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Top 10 Yoga Breathing Practices

9 Sep 2021 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy

Yoga Breathing Practices

Actually this Breathing sounds so simple , but working with the breathe is a Yogic technique that can completely change your life .Whether you are a beginners or  an advanced practitioner , you can practice Pranayama , it is the regulation of the breathe with the certain techniques .  Pranayama is generally defined as breathe control . The word Pranayama is comprised of two roots :` prana’ plus `ayama’ . Prana means ‘Vital energy’ or `life force’ . and ‘ayama ‘ means control . Thus the word pranayama means ‘extension’ or ‘ expansion ‘ of the dimension of prana . The techniques of pranayama provide the method whereby the life force can be activated and regulated in order to go beyond one`s normal boundaries or imitations and attain higher state of vibratory energy and awareness .

“Pranayama teaches the aspirant to regulate his breathing and thereby control the mind.”

B.K.S. Iyengar

That`s a pretty good claim ! Here are 10 of the best breathing exercises that you can practice .Remember you don`t have to be expert to practice these breathing exercises .

1) Lion`s Breathe ( Simha Pranayama )

Lion`s breathe is the simple breathing exercise that`s said to alleviate stress , eliminate toxins , strenghthens the fine muscles of the neck and face  , making it a natural yoga face lift . This method doesn`t need any counting or holding . so , it`s perfect for complete beginners and children .

You can do lions breathing to help you to clear your throat if you have a dry mouth or throat tickle . It also helps to relax your facia muscles .

To , begin follow these steps :

  1. Exhale all the  air out of your lungs
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose , tilt your head back slightly , open your mouthsuper wide and stick your tongue out while exhaling loudly like a roaring lion .
  3. Feel free to roar like a lion while exhaling . The audible release is what makes this  breathing method more powerful .
  4. Practice this  while sitting down or in a chair wherever you feel comfortable and try raising your arms up in cactus while inhaling  . Lower them down on the exhale . This will make you more resilient to stress over time .

2) 4-7-8 Breathe

This breathing exercises is great for beginners and is very calming . It can be best for those suffering from anxiety . You can practice 4-7-8 breathing anywhere and at any time . When you `re first learning  , try to practice at least twice a day , but you can do it as often as you want .

To begin , Sit comfortably with your spine straight . While breathing in , keep your tongue poised against the gum line on your front teeth . then, Exhale completely through your mouth  , making a whoosh sound

  1. Close your lips and inhale through your nose for a count four .
  2. After that , Hold your breathe for seven seconds .
  3. Finally ,Exhale completely through your mouth making a whoosh sound for a  count of eight .
  4. This completes one cycle . Repeat it for four more cycles .

This powerful breathing exercise  is natural transquilizer for the nervous system . Do it anytime when you feel stressed  . It will become more powerful when you use it .

3) Ujjayi breathe ( Ujjayi Pranayama )

You are  more likely to listen this Ujjayi breathing if you have ever been to Vinyasa session . This means ‘ ocean breathing’  . The steadiness , sound , and depth of the Ujjayi breathe help to link your body , mind and spirit to the present moment . This unification adds richness and depth to your practice .

Ujjayi is particularly beneficial for calming the mind . It is known to be beneficial for those suffering from stress , insomnia , and mental tension.

To begin , Both the exhale and inhale should be through the nose .

  1. nhale deeper than usual .
  2. Exhale slowly and contract your throat  muscles .
  3. The sound should be gentle `HAAAAAH’ . The breathe should be so subtle it will likely only be audible to you . If it is loud , you need to exhale a  little more gently .

4) Alternate Nostril Breathing ( Nadisodhana Pranayama )

Nadi sodhana means ` clearing the passage of circulation’ , or Alternate Nostril Breathing ,” is a simple yet powerful technique that settles mind , body and emotios . This yogic exercise is safe for all the yogis of all levels and ages . So , it is done in the end or starting of every yoga classes .

Whenever you feel stressed  ,  anxious about a conversation or nervous about the a project or presentation , this breathing exercise can be quick and calm ing way to bring you back to your centre .

There are several styles of Nadi Sodhana  , but all of them serves the purpose of creating balance and regulating the  flow of air through your nasal passage .

To begin ,

  1. Sit in any comfortable meditation posture
  2. Keep the head and spine straight .
  3. Relax the whole body and close the eyes
  4. Relax your left hand comfortable in your lap or in jnana mudra .
  5. With your right hand , bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest in between your eyebrows , lighly using them as anchor .
  6. The fingers we will be actively  using are the thumb and ring finger .
  7. Take a breathe in and out through your nose .
  8. Close your right nostrils with your right thumb , inhale through the left nostrils slowly and steadily .
  9. Close the  left nostril with your ring finger so that both nostrils are closed . and retain

Your breathe at the top of the inhale for a brief cause .

  1. Open your right nostril and release the breathe slowly through the right side;pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale .
  2. Inhale through the right side slowly .
  3. Hold both nostrils closed .
  4. Open your left nostril and release breathe slowly through the left side . pause  briefly at the bottom .
  5. Repeat 5-10 cycles ,allowing your mind to follow inhale and exhale .

5) Bellow Breathe

This breathe exercise is best for boosting your energy . This is a vogrous practice  , entailing a series of active inhalation and exhalation . This  practice burns up toxins and stimulates  the metabolic rate , producing heat and flushing out wastes and toxins . Also , It balances and strengthens the nervous system , including peace , tranquility and one poinntedness of mind in preparation for  meditation .

To begin ,

  1. Sit in a comfortable meditation posture with the hands resting on the knees in either chin or jnana mudra .
  2. Keep the head and spine straight , close the eyes and relax the whole body .
  3. Inhale and exhale forcefully throughout the nose .
  4. Immediately afterwards breathe in with the same force . Forceful inhalation results from fully expanding the abdominal muscles  and forceful exhalation from firm contraction of the abdominal muscles .
  5. Continue in this manner . counting 10 breaths .
  6. Take a deep breath in and out slowly .
  7. This is one round . Practice up to 5 rounds .

6) Three part breathing

The three parts are the ‘abdomen’ , ‘diaphragm’ , and chest  . This exercise is good for insomnia, anxiety and frustrating situations .” You can also practice this on or off the mat . Three part breathing also helps you to calm your mind  and muscles .

To begin ,

  1. Sit in a comfortable position .
  2. Place one hand on your chest and  other on your belly .
  3. Inhale into your upper chest , and then expand the air into your belly . Your belly should feel like big ballon .
  4. Exhale from the belly first then , the upper lungs .
  5. Repeat as needed . Be susre that the breathe is smooth .

7) Sheetali Pranayama(THE COOLING BREATHE )

Sheetali pranayama also known as cooling breathe , is  the breathing practices that cools the body and affects important brain centres associated with biological drives and temperature regulations . Sheetali pranayama soothes and calms the mind –body by activating powerful evaporative cooling mechanism on the inhalation .But do not practice it in a polluted atmosphere or during cold weather .

To begin ,

  1. Sit in any comfortable meditation posture .
  2. Close the eyes and relax the whole body .
  3. Extend the tongue outside the mouth as far as possible without the strain . Roll the sides of the tongue up so that it forms a tube . Practice a long , smooth  and controlled inhalation  through the rolled tongue .
  4. At the end of inhalation , Draw the tongue in , close the mouth and exhale through the nose .
  5. Practice yogic breathing throughout .
  6. The breath should produce a sucking sound .
  7. A feeling of icy coldness will be experienced on the tongue and the roof of the mouth .

This is one round .

The duration of the inhalation should gradually become longer to increase the cooling effect . Gradually increase the number of rounds from 9 – 15 .

8) Bhramari Pranayama

Bhramari pranayama also known as humming bee breath , is one of the best breating exercises to free the mind of agitation , frustration , or anxiety and get rid of anger to a greater extent .Bhramari relieves stress and cerebral tension , and so helps in alleviating anger , anxiety , and insomnia , in increasing the hearing capacity of the body . It strengthens and improves the voice . The vibration of hmming sound creates a soothing effect on the mind and nervous system .

To begin ,

  1. Sit in a comfortable meditation asana .
  2. Close the eyes and relax the whole body .
  3. The lips should remain gently closed with the teeth slightly separated throughout the  practice  . This allows the sound vibration to be heard and felt more distinctly .
  4. Raise the arms sideways and bend the elbows , bringing the hands to ears . Use the index  or middle fingers to plug the ears or the flaps of  the ears may be  pressed without inserting the fingers .
  5. Bbring the awareness to the centre of the head .keep the body absolutely still .
  6. Inhale through the  nose .
  7. Exhale slowly and in a controlled manner while  making deep , steady humming sound like that of the black bee .
  8. The humming sound should be smooth , even and continuous for the duration of the exhalation . The sound should be soft and mellow  .
  9. At the end of exhalation , the hands  can be kept steady or returned to the knee and then raised again for the  next round .
  10. Both inhalation and exhalation should be smooth .
  11. This is one round.

9) Kapalbhati pranayama (Skull shining breathe )

Kapalbhati has a cleansing effect on the lungs and is a good practice for the respiratory disorders . It balances the strengthens the nervous system and tones the digestive organs . It purifies the nadis , and removes sensory distractions . It energizes the mind , for mental work and removes sleepiness .

But this breathing practice should not be practiced by those suffering from heart diseases , high blood pressure , vertigo , epilepsy , stroke , hernia , or gastric ulcer . It  is  not recommend during pregnancy .

To begin ,

  1. Sit in a comfortable meditation asana . The head and spine should be straight with the hands resting on the knees in either chin or jnana mudra .
  2. Close  the eyes and relax the whole body .
  3. Exhale through both nostrils with a forceful contraction of  the abdominal muscles .
  4. The following inhalation should take place passively by allowing the abdominal muscles to relax .
  5. Inhalation should be spontaneous recoil , involving  no effort .
  6. After completing 10- rapid breaths in succession , inhale and exhale deeply . Allow the breathe to return to normal .
  7. This is  one round . Practice up to 5 rounds .

10) Breathe of Fire 

This breathing practice is a little more advanced .; do not practice it if  you reverse breathe .

Reverse breathing is very common phenomena among  beginners . Before doing this  breathing practice , make sure you are inhaling from the bottom of the lungs to the top , and exhaling from the top of the lungs down.

Begin practicing for 1-3 minutes at a time . This practice can make you dizzy . so , it`s best done in home. Sit in a comfortable meditation position .

  1. Hands sit comfortable and loose on your knees  . Close your eyes and exhale completely .
  2. Feel your belly expand and contract on inhale  . Focus on the sensation .
  3. Use the diaphragm  to quickly pump the breath in and out.
  4. Close your mouth and start pumping the air through your nose .
  5. Keep in mind , this breathing method is not meant for children , menstruating women , or pregnant women .  

This powerful breathing practice works by rapidly draining old , stale air , from your lungs ,and invigorates your body with fresh oxygen . There is no doubt this breathing exercises will flood your body with natural feel –good natural chemicals and the increase in oxygen can actually help your body dispose of cancer cells .

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