HJ: The depth and rhythms of our breath are intimately tied to the regulation of our nervous system, which ultimately controls our stress levels and the alertness of the mind. Ancient Indian seers, mystics and yogis developed many powerful breathing practices, known as pranayama, to regulate these aspects of the body and help spiritual seekers access higher levels of consciousness. 3 of the core practices are outlined below. Remember to start slowly as they can produce some very real and profound healing reactions in the body and mind.
Breathing Exercises – Introduction to Pranayama
The most important part of yoga practice is the ability to breathe deeply and fully. Proper breathing is vital to our health, mental focus and sense of calm.
In this free, introductory class, Kavita guides you through simple techniques to bring fullness to your breath; these techniques are useful both on and off the yoga mat.
Bring the Yoga of the Breath with you wherever you go.
The Full Yogic Breath is at the core of yoga practice. When you learn to breath from your deep belly instead of your chest you increase your lung capacity, increase circulation, send more oxygen to the brain and reduce stress and tension quickly and effectively.
Benefits: reduced tension, increased lung capacity and circulation, improves mental performance and encourages focus
Contraindications: None. This breath is suitable for everyone who requires oxygen.
If the Full Yogic Breath is the foundation of breathing in your practice, then Diafragmatic Breathing is the foundation of the breath in general. When you shift your breath from the upper chest to the diaphragm, you increase the quality of your breath, the amount of oxygen to your blood and calm focus in your mind.
In this short tutorital, Kavita shows you how to do just that breathe deep and breathe easy for a more complete yoga practice.
The Ocean Sounding Breath is also known as Ujayii Breathing, Victory Breath or, for the cheeky yogi – the Darth Vader Breath. To create the proper “hah” sound, hold your hand up to your mouth and exhale as if trying to fog a mirror. Inhale the same way. Notice how you constrict the back of the throat to create the fog effect. Now close your mouth and do the same thing while breathing through the nose, creating the ‘ocean’ sound. Imagine that you are drinking your breath through the nose. You can do this breath during asana practice to bring more oxygen to the body, during meditation to increase mental focus, or anytime during the day that you find your concentration slipping. Duration: 6 min
Benefits: increases mental focus, builds heat in the body and promotes a sense of mindful calm.
Contraindications: if you have asthma be careful with this breath, those with bronchitis or any sort of lung or sinus infection should avoid until fully recovered.