Thursday, 9 February 2012

Yogi Breathing Exercises |

Yogi Breathing Exercises Photo Credit Yoga pilates image by Christophe Schmid from

The practice of controlled breathing during yoga is called pranayama. Dozens of yogi breathing exercises exist, and which ones you choose depend on your goals, style of practice and physical condition. According to "Yoga Journal," focusing on the breath fosters health and promotes mental clarity.


Ujayi breath is fundamental to flowing yoga practices such as vinyasa flow and ashtanga. You may incorporate ujayi breath into a physical set of poses, or simply perform it as a breathing practice on its own. To perform the breath, inhale through your nose and direct the air toward your abdomen. As you exhale, let the breath tickle across the back of your throat while making a "ha" sound---similar to the gentle rush of ocean waves. Try to keep your mouth closed as you exhale. This breath practice creates a soothing rhythm to your breath helping to calm you. The awareness of the breath helps you focus on the present and your experience in class, rather than having your mind worry about daily stresses. The breath also helps soothe you, so that you can better hold poses and induce a more relaxed state.


The purpose of kapalabhati is to cleanse your system of tension, excess mucus and chest blockages. The breath is rapid and focused on the diaphragm muscle. Kapalabhati roughly translates into "skull shining" breath, and is believed to help reduce brain fog and fuzzy thinking. Do be aware that this breath, if practiced too aggressively, can cause dizziness. To perform the breath, sit in a comfortable position and take two normal breaths. Exhale by powerfully contracting the lower belly--between the pubis and navel---and blowing out your nostrils. Quickly suck the air back in through your nose for two counts and again rapidly exhale. Beginners only need to do about 8 total one-second breaths. End by taking a few long, steady inhales and exhales. As you become more skilled, you can work your way up to 20 or 30 repetitions.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing, known as anuloma viloma, is good for those just beginning a focused Pranayama practice. During the breath cycle, inhale through one nostril for 4 counts, hold the breath for 16 counts and then exhale through the other nostril for 8 counts. The benefits of this breathing technique, according to the ABC of Yoga website, is to encourage heightened functioning of both sides of the brain. The technique is also believed to calm the mind and the entire nervous system. Gently press your right thumb against your right nostril to close it and inhale using your left nostril for 4 counts. Retain your breath, with the thumb and pinky finger closing both nostrils for 16 counts. Exhale using the right nostril for a count of 8. Commence with the other side, breathing through only the right nostril while the pinky finger closes the left for a count of 4, close both nostrils and retain the breath for 16 and then release to exhale through the left nostril for 8. Start with three rounds of the total exercise, working your way up to as many as 20.


No comments:

Post a Comment