In Yoga, breathing is the key to success In Yoga, breathing is of utmost importance; it is only when you have mastered the technique of breathing right that you can hope to gain from Yoga. The various breathing exercises in Yoga are called ‘Pranayama’, and these exercises need to be practiced with immense concentration and determination before you can incorporate them naturally in your daily life. Many diseases and stress related problems are caused by wrong, shallow breathing and deep breathing or ‘Pranayama’ is a sure shot way of improving your health. In deep breathing, you need to take in air right from the pit of your navel, up your abdominal muscles and chest so that the maximum amount of oxygen is supplied to all the internal organs of the body. Once the air (oxygen) is inside you, you should retain it for as much time as possible and then slowly release it by making a slight ‘O’ with your mouth (or the sound ‘whoosh’). This is termed as ‘mindful breathing’. Mindful breathing strengthens your respiratory system and improves your immune system. It also increases the capacity of your mind and concentration, and has an overall positive impact physically, mentally and spiritually. The first step in achieving the right breathing regime is to observe your breathing cycle. In order to do so you need to temporarily isolate yourself and sit in a comfortable position. The most popular yogic position is the cross-legged one, called Sukhasana. Another possible posture is when you sit on your haunches with your feet comfortably tucked behind you -- this is called Vajrasana. Incidentally this is a good posture to be in to speedup the digestion procedure, but it could get uncomfortable after a few minutes. Your final option is to sit in a comfortable chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Whatever be your posture, remember to keep your back and neck completely erect, but not tense. Now begin with some natural breathing through the nose; keep the mouth relaxed. Observe each inhalation and exhalation you make, and try to gauge the internal rhythm of your body. Next, start counting the length of your breaths. Here it may help to keep your eyes closed, and concentrate on lengthening each inhalation and exhalation. Count slowly in your mind (Thousand and one, thousand and two, thousand and three…), and get your body used to the fact that your breaths are longer, and more importantly, the length of your inhalation and exhalation is the same. Start with a count of five inhalations, five exhalations and then try to move on to a twelve count through patience and practice. Your final goal should be to inhale for 12 counts, hold your breath in for 12 counts, then exhale for 12 counts and hold again for the same period before starting the cycle again.
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