Breathing is the very essence of life and the first thing we do when we enter this world and the last thing when we depart. Every leaving beaning has its own system to take oxygen from air or water. We as human takes oxygen from the air through nose and Absorve in the lungs. But in the era, the oxygen available in the normal air is not pure due to global warming the oxygen level has reduced in the air. So in this situation, there are only freeways to inhaling more oxygen to the body are yoga and some asana.
For thousands of years, Yoga and Ayurveda have employed breathing techniques (pranayama) to maintain, balance, and restore physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It results in several physiological benefits, achieved through the control of respiration.
The benefits of a regulated practice of simple, deep yogic breathing include:
Increase in energy levels
Reduced anxiety, depression, and stress
Lower/stabilized blood pressure
Regulating your Breath – The Yoga Way
The most simple breathing exercise for calming both the nervous system and the overworked mind is a timed way of breathing where the exhalation is longer than the inhalation. This reduces the tone of your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) while activating your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest, relax, and digest response). Breathing in this way for at least five minutes will bring about a difference in your overall mood. Anyone can do this exercise without having to consult a teacher.
In addition to the practice of simple deep breathing, ancient yogis have detailed different types of rhythmic deep breathing techniques that can have differing effects on the mind and body. Each of these breathing techniques has specific effects on the mind-body continuum.
Please keep in mind that you should learn the following breathing techniques from a qualified teacher who will also be able to guide you when to practice, how many times and over what period of time. In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, one of the oldest texts on Hatha yoga, it is said that: “All diseases are eradicated by the proper practice of pranayama. All diseases can arise through improper practice. The lungs heart and nerves are normally strong and gain strength with regulated and suitable pranayama, but weakened with improper practice. By wrong and excessive practice one’s mental quirks and even nervous tics could become exaggerated. Every practice should be treated with respect and caution. Hence guidance is to be sought.
The Yoga Chudamani Upanishad states: “Just as the lion, elephant and tiger are brought under control slowly and steadily, similarly the PRANA should be controlled, otherwise it becomes destructive to the practitioner.
1. Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing
A yogic practice that immediately helps you to feel calmer whenever you are feeling anxious or agitated.
Inhale deeply through your left nostril while holding your right nostril closed with your right thumb. At its culmination, switch nostrils by closing off your left nostril and continuing to exhale smoothly through your right nostril. After exhaling fully, proceed to inhale through the right nostril, again closing it off at the peak of your inhalation. Lift your finger off the left nostril and exhale fully. Continue alternating your breathing through each nostril and practice for 3 to 5 minutes. Ensure that your breathing is effortless, and your mind gently focusing on the inflow and outflow of breath. The above description is a beginner’s version of alternate nostril breathing. More advanced versions include regulated breathing on a certain count for inhalation and exhalation as well as breath retention. The Rajadhiraja system of pranayama is a highly advanced practice, which combines alternate nostril breathing with a focus on a certain chakra while repeating a mantra. It is only taught individually, hence for those interested to learn more please email us.
2. Ujjayi or Ocean’s Breath
Cooling pranayama can help soothe and settle your mind when you feel irritated, frustrated or angry.
Inhale slightly deeper than normal. Exhale through your nose with your mouth closed and constricting your throat muscles. If done correctly, this should sound like waves on the ocean. You can also try this practice by exhaling with your mouth open and making the sound “haaaaah”. Try to make a similar sound with your mouth closed, with the outflow of air through your nasal passages. You should then use the same method while inhaling with some practice, gently constricting your throat as you inhale. Even though Ujjayi can be practiced once in a while as described above, daily Ujjayi must be prescribed by a teacher and is given when the Sushumna Nadi is sufficiently cleared, hence the need to practice under the guidance of a teacher. It is calming, but has a heating effect, stimulating the process of oxidation. It is contraindicated for low blood pressure.
The Pranayama techniques of deep breathing listed above are geared to improving the levels of energy in the body. Through regular practice, you will soon start to breathe more effectively without making any conscious effort.
3. Shiitali Kumbhaka or the cooling breath
Fold your tongue lengthwise and inhale deeply through the fold. Close your mouth, hold the breath on a count of eight and then exhale through the nose. Continue for eight breaths, sustain for a maximum of eight minutes. Thereafter you massage the diseased area of the body (as prescribed in yoga therapy). Benefits of this method include reduced pitta (heat) in the regions of the head, neck, and upper digestive tract. It is contraindicated in case of asthma, bronchitis, and chronic constipation.
4. Siitkari Kumbhaka or the hissing breath
This practice has the same basic effects as the shiitali method. Inhale through the nose, hold your breath for eight seconds and exhale through the mouth, while resting your teeth on your tongue and producing the sound s-s-s with your tongue. In addition to reduced pitta, benefits include purification of the senses. The contraindications are the same as for shiitali.
The practice of Shiitali and Siitkari are to be avoided for a period of one hour before and after the practice of pranayama connected with one’s meditation. In general it is best to only practice one pranayama technique at a time.
5. Brahmari or the humming breath
The inhalation is similar to the ujjayi (detailed above) and during exhalation one has to hum like a bee. The humming results in a resonating vibration in the head and heart. Proceed to take ten deep breaths in this manner and then another ten deep Brahmari breaths while closing both ears during the exhale process. This helps to notably enhance the resonance effect and resultant benefits. This method helps in balancing vata (circulation or flow) in addition to subtly enhancing awareness, both mental and emotional. Additionally, it may be practiced together with yoni mudra (as taught by a teacher). Never practice this method while lying on your back. It has to be practiced while sitting in upright position.
6. Bhastrika or the bellows breath
A word of caution: This exercise must only be performed under supervision. Close the right nostril and inhale twenty rapid bellows-like breaths through the left nostril. Repeat with twenty more bellows breaths through the right nostril while keeping the left nostril closed. Proceed to take twenty bellows breaths through both nostrils. This method helps draw prana (the life force) into the body and mind, thus clearing out mental, emotional and physical blocks.
7. Surya Bhedana or the solar breath
Similar to the Nadi Shodhana, inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left. Repeat this for a minimum of six breaths and a maximum of ten minutes. Benefits include heating and warming breaths that help balance vata in the body. It is contraindicated in case of heart disease, hypertension, epilepsy, hyperthyroidism, peptic ulcer and acidity.
8. Chandra Bhedana or the lunar breath
Inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right for a minimum of six breaths and sustain for a maximum of ten minutes. This cooling breath process helps reduce pitta. It should not be practiced by people who suffer from depression, who have mental disturbances, excess mucus and a sluggish digestion.
9. Lion’s Breath
This breath control activity encourages a sudden release, and invites a little playfulness into the practice. This is one of the most fun breathing practices, especially for kids. It is also a great addition to an adult class on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings, when everyone is ready to let go of the week they have had, and embrace the weekend.
Lion’s Breath involves inhaling deeply through your nose then leaning your head back and opening your mouth very wide to exhale loudly while sticking your tongue out. Try practicing this while rising your arms up on the inhale and forming cactus arms with your exhale to accentuate the relieving effects.
10. Breath of Fire
Used in Bikram classes, this practice is very warming, as the name itself implies. It is great for warming up the abdominal muscles and ignites Tapas, or heat, in the organs. This is superb for a practice that is focused on detoxing.
Practice Breath of Fire by sitting tall, inhaling gently through your nose, then vigorously pumping your exhale out through your nose while pulling your navel in repeatedly and in short spurts. Each pull in with your belly exerts another exhale quickly after the last. Make your inhales and exhales even in force, depth, and time.
11. Skull Cleanser
Otherwise known as Kapalabhati Breathing, this technique is another cleansing breath exercise that raises your energy level dramatically. Basically, it is the same as the Breath of Fire technique, but with a larger emphasis on the exhale, and with your arms straight up above your head to promote lymph circulation through the upper body.
Hold your hands in the mudra of your choice. For example, try Apana Mudra for invoking the future. Simply make your hands look like a dog’s head with the ring and middle finger resting on your thumb in a triangle, stick your pinkie and pointer finger straight up like ears.
12. Three Part Breathing
This slow, smooth process is super relaxing and is wonderful for insomnia, anxiety, stress, and frustrating situations. Three Part Breathing calms the mind and soothes the muscles. It is a wonderful way to end a late evening practice or begin a restorative practice.
Start by placing one hand on your upper chest and the other on your navel. Inhale into your chest then your upper abdomen, and finally puff your belly out like a balloon. Slowly release the breath in the same way, smoothly exhaling the air from your belly, then your upper abdomen, then your chest.
13. Alternate Nostril Breathing
This breathing exercise takes focus and clarity to prevent getting confused and to remember where you are in the process. For this reason it is best used before an exam or when you are trying to ignite focus and discipline for any reason. 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.
Practice this technique by placing your right middle and pointer fingers in the palm of your hand leaving just your pinkie and ring fingers and your thumb free. Take your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale through the left nostril. Now take your ring finger and place it over your left nostril to exhale through the right nostril.
Next leave your hand as it is and inhale through the left nostril, then switch, placing your thumb over your right nostril and exhaling through the left nostril.
Repeat this until you are finished with your breathing exercise.
The first few times you try this one you may get your left and right confused. Don’t give up; you’re not alone in that struggle. Try to remember that each time you inhale you are sealing the breath in and that is when you switch sides.
14. Bellows Breath
Bellows Breath is very, 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.
Raise your hands up to the sky in little fists, or with the fingers splayed out wide. Inhale through your mouth and with every exhale, drop your elbows into your side body and make a “HA” sound from the bottom of your diaphragm.
Don’t be afraid to be loud here, as this is incredibly freeing and releases any pent up energy, stagnation, or frustrations very quickly.
15. Ujjayi Breath
This is the most used breathing technique, as it is easy to perform during your physical practice, no matter what type of practice you have. It is useful for calming the mind and the nervous system in tricky situations both on and off the mat. It sounds like the ocean and can cool you off very quickly.
Practice Ujjayi breathing by inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Drag the breath along the back of your throat so that it creates a gentle hissing sound and feels like sipping a cool drink through a straw. Try to make each inhale last as long as the exhale, and take each breath a little deeper than the last until your breathing is long and smooth.
Practice your breathing techniques as often as possible. Being able to control your breath will deepen your physical practice dramatically, and will help you take each posture longer, deeper, and more healthfully.
Beyond that, it will change your emotional health and allow you to stay cool as a cucumber in arduous situations down the line.
Which is your favorite yoga breathing technique to practice and why? Share with us in the comments below!
Apart from sustaining life, the mind, body, and breath are so intimately connected that they deeply influence each other. The way we breathe is influenced by our state of mind, and in turn, our thoughts and physiology can be influenced by our breathing. Deep breathing practices advocated in advanced yoga training can have a positive impact on our physiology, both body and mind.
Active Yogic Breathing
Practice long, slow and deep breaths in and out through the nose as you walk at a moderate pace. Try to extend your inhalations and exhalations as you walk. Keep the count of steps during each full inhale and exhale. Aim to take ten steps or more for each inhale and exhale. This method works to combine the calming effect of breathing with an active lifestyle.
The process of thinking and emotions are both voluntary and involuntary as is the act of respiration. Pranayama (control of the vital life force) can be achieved through the control of the respiration process. Advanced yogic breathing practices bring benefits to the various systems of the body, by improving circulation and thus enhancing the performance of the various organs.
In yoga we call the branch dedicated to our breathing techniques Pranayama, which means breath control.
Breathing exercises are a huge part of any yoga practice, and they can be a very useful tool in our daily lives, too. If you’re new to yoga, you might need a little guidance when connecting the breath to the movement. This free 30 Day Yoga Challenge will help you move with intention and keep you connected to your breath.
There are a bunch of different techniques you can try utilizing for different effects. Here are just a few, in no particular order.
Before you get started, it’s always important to try to take a few relaxed breaths before and after each exercise. Start with just 30 seconds per exercise, building to longer increments of time as your body is ready. If you get dizzy, simply stop and relax for a few minutes, evening out your breath.