Yogic Breathing – Part 1
- This post is about the science of yogic breathing, how to effectively practice it, and understand how it creates a significant difference in the quality of our life.
- Most of our simple day to day problems such as headache, mind cloudiness, not able to concentrate, lethargy, hypertension, chest tightness are all due to low levels of oxygen in the blood.
- So in this post we will see how to improve oxygenated blood in our system through proper Yogic breathing.
Part 2 – Mind and breath connection
- If you have experienced a yoga session, you must have heard about the terms ‘Diaphragmatic breathing’ abdominal breathing, or Yogic breathing. If u are into yoga, then breathing effectively is an important first lesson. Well….Breathing effectively is an important lesson even if u r not into yoga. I am a yoga teacher and usually, my first lesson is yogic breathing. Life of a yoga teacher is very difficult when it comes to teaching breathing to their students. Bcoz they would say, Hey I am breathing all my life, what are u here for….Yes we are breathing all our life 24/7
- But have you ever observed your breathing in relation to your state of mind? Have you noticed your breathing on days when we are very busy either physically or mentally ?… . Have you ever given a thought if we are doing breathing at least close to our average capacity? Start observing your breath, at times of stress, work pressure, when u r angry. You will notice that Breath is very shallow and disturbed without a proper rhythm. This is what an ancient text in Yoga called Hata yoga pradipika states that..
When the mind is unsteady… the breath is also unsteady,
When the breath is under control, the mind too is in control. This is exactly the principle followed in Yoga to calm the mind.
Let us have a small practice to understand how this yogic breathing works. So I want you to sit with your back straight and take 2 long deep breaths. Imagine you are in a doctor’s office and you are asked to take long deep breaths…
My question now is….When you did a deep inhalation; did your abdomen go inside or come out? If you want to try one more time, pause this post and go ahead and try…This time place one palm on the abdomen to note your movement.
Let us look into the physiology of breathing before going into what is the correct way of breathing….
When we intake air into the body, the air enters the nostrils, goes down our windpipe, the trachea, and reaches our lungs. In this picture, you can see the windpipe, the lungs, and the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle located between the lungs and abdominal organs. When the lungs expand, it pushes the diaphragm down which subsequently pushes the abdominal organs out. Exactly the reverse happens on exhalation. The abdomen comes in, The diaphragm regains its original positions expelling all the air outside of the lungs.
This is the pattern that happens naturally in our body during a relaxed state. Observe a child sleeping, you can notice that the abdomen rises upon inhalation and drops down on exhalation. So now you have the answer when you take a deep inhalation, the abdomen should come out. If you are contracting your abdomen, that means you are only doing shallow breathing involving only your chest region.
There are 3 types of breathing
- Deep abdominal breathing
- Chest breathing – Thoracic breathing
- Very shallow breathing – Clavicular breathing
Even if we aware of this concept, we don’t do this diaphragmatic breathing throughout the day. Due to tension, work stress, what we do, we take shallow breaths based on our state of mind. So how do we train ourselves to do this abdominal breathing..
Let us do another practice
Yogic Breathing Part 3
Again place one palm on the chest, one on the abdomen, eyes closed….
Start with gentle breathing…..
Bring awareness to the expansion of Lungs, movement of the abdomen.
Now on exhalation, gently pull your abdominal muscles inside, release and deep inhale
I want you to give a momentary pause after every inhale and every exhale… for a sec
Pause this post and do this 10 more times
When you come back from practice, we will see how it benefits your body….
By now you should feel how deep breathing feels like….You must be already feeling calm and relaxed.
In the first part of post, we talked about a lot of day-to-day problems such as headache, confusion, lack of concentration etc. When we do shallow breathing, there is no enough oxygen in the brain, then we experience headaches, confusion, lack of energy etc. When we maximize our breath capacity in every inhalation, then the lungs produce a fairly good amount of oxygenated blood which is circulated throughout the body.
Assuming, I am a person sitting all day, say I am a couch potato taking shallow breaths throughout the day….But Still, my body provides the needed oxygen to all parts, is not it? How does this happen? It is because the heart starts pumping harder and faster to provide that same amount of oxygenated blood. The same scenario happens during exhalation, If complete exhalation doesn’t happen, then the residual CO2 in my system gathers as impurities, eventually change as toxins, and manifest as various diseases in our body.
So If we train ourselves to do this kind of deep breathing in one-hour yoga sessions, we would repeat this unknowingly throughout the day.
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