Would you like to boost your energy as well as strengthen your immune and nervous systems while stoking your digestive fire? One of the most straightforward is yoga breathing techniques. As you know, your breath is the most important aspect to help you keep balance during your Yoga time. If you push yourself to get into a deep Yoga pose while your breath is restricted, then you will get lost. This is the reason why breathing exercises are a huge part of any yoga practice, and they can be a very useful tool in our daily lives, too. There are bunches of different techniques you can try utilizing for different effects. Here are just a few to help you complete your practice.
Blow off some steam, wake up your face, and lighten up your practice in Lion’s Breath! This breath control activity encourages a sudden release, and invites a little playfulness into the practice.
START: Kneel on the floor and cross the front of the right ankle over the back of the left. The feet will point out to the sides. Press your palms firmly against your knees. Fan the palms and splay your fingers like the
FINISH: Take a deep inhalation through the nose. Then simultaneously open your mouth wide and stretch your tongue out, curling its tip down toward the chin, open your eyes wide, contract the muscles on the front of your throat, and exhale the breath slowly out through your mouth with a distinct “ha” sound. The breath should pass over the back of the throat. You can roar two or three times. Then change the cross of the legs and repeat for the same number of times.
BREATH OF FIRE
Used in Bikram classes, this practice is very warming, as the name itself implies. Breath of Fire is a rhythmic breath with equal emphasis on the inhale and exhale, no deeper than sniffing. It’s done by pumping the naval point towards the spine on the exhale and releasing the naval out on the inhale.
START: Sitting up tall, with a straight spine, hands placed on knees in open palm mudra and your eyes closed, start by feeling your belly expand with each inhale and contract with each exhale. Breath of Fire is powered from the navel point (solar plexus) and the diaphragm is used to pump the navel in and out with each exhale and inhale.
FINISH: Quicken the pace of the inhale and exhale, but keep them equal. There is a quick inhale and quick exhale with no pause between them at the rate of approximately 2-3 cycles per second. Begin practicing for 1-3 minutes at a time. When done correctly, your chest will remain relaxed and slightly lifted and your hands, feet, face and abdomen will also be relaxed.
NOTE: If you feel dizzy, giddy, or light headed, slow down your pace and ensure that both the inhale and exhale are of equal duration. Breath of Fire should not be done by menstruating or pregnant women, or children younger than 16.
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING
This breathing exercise takes focus and clarity to prevent getting confused and to remember where you are in the process. Focusing in this way can be calming as it clears the mind; so many people will use it before bed if they tend to over think stuff at night.
START: Take a comfortable seat and make sure your spine is straight and your heart is open. Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand just in front of your face. With your right hand, bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly using them as an anchor. The fingers we’ll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger.
FINISH: Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose. Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily. Close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a brief pause. Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale. Inhale through the right side slowly. Hold both nostrils closed (with ring finger and thumb). Open your left nostril and release breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom. Repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales.
Bellows Breath is very invigorating and is a wonderful way to begin an early morning Power yoga practice, or to wake yourself up in the middle of a meeting or long lecture.
START: Sit in any steady asana. Keep the body erect and close the mouth. Inhale and exhale in rapid succession. During this process, a hissing sound is produced. Don’t be afraid to be loud here, as this is incredibly freeing and releases any pent up energy, stagnation, or frustrations very quickly.
FINISH: Start with say 10 inhalations and exhalations per round. It can be increased over a period of time. You can increase the difficulty off this breathing technique by taking a deep breath after the last exhalation and hold the breath inside for as long as comfortable. Then exhale and start breathing normally. This will constitute one round. Do three such rounds. If you are short of time, practice at least one round, which is good enough to maintain fitness.