Correct breathing is extremely vital for yoga poses. Synchronizing yoga movement with breath creates harmony in the body and mind. You need to develop an harmony in breathing. When you expand your body – you inflate the lungs and the diaphragm – you need to inhale and when you contract your chest and diaphragm – you need to exhale. Learning to breathe correctly can help you to do your yoga poses better. Yoga stretching exercises improves circulation and helps release tension and stress. Through proper breathing, you provide the body with oxygen, which feeds all the vital organs and muscles of the body.
There is a profound relationship between mental state and breathing and diaphragm breathing improves our mental state. Normally we breathe unconsciously and we only use one eighth of our lug capacity. To utilize the full capacity of the lung we need to breathe using our lungs and diaphragm. Diaphragm breathing is not a belly breathing or stomach breathing. The diaphragm is a flat muscle that sits underneath our lungs and supports respiration. When we breathe in, the diaphragm moves downward – it moves laterally (outward) and causes the rib cage to expand to accommodate the lungs as they expand. When we breathe out, the diaphragm moves upward, the rib cage returns back to its original position. The diaphragm is a muscle and just like any other muscle in the body it needs to be exercised. Initially, it might be difficult in controlling the diaphragm, but as you practice, it becomes easy.
Breathing Rules During Yoga Exercises
The common rules for yoga breathing are as follows:
1. The breath should be slow, deep, and even. You should not take exaggerated breaths.
2. Breathe deeply and naturally.
3. Breathe through your nose. As a general rule, exhale as you bend forward, inhale as you bend backward or stretching. Breathe normally at other times. For some postures, holding of breath is required.
4. Unless required, do not hold your breath during yoga exercises, as you deprive your body of oxygen. If you hold your breath, you will reduce the flexibility of the body.
5. The breath should simultaneously relax and energize the body. Notice your posture at all times. This will enable the oxygen to make its way to flow throughout the body and to the muscles.
6. Breathe deeply and use your diaphragm. But don’t fill your lungs to its maximum capacity. When the diaphragm is stretch to its fullest, it’s hard to control it. Don’t overstretch it. Keep your larynx muscles as relaxed as possible.
7. Inhale when stretching and exhale when contracting. Exhale when lowering and inhale when rising. Twisting movements are made on the exhalation.
8. Inhale, while you are going out of the normal position, exhale when you are returning back to the normal position. When you reach the end of inhalation, you may pause for a second.
9. Our natural tendency is to hold the breath, especially in a challenging pose. This creates stress and tension in the body. Breathe slowly, evenly and deeply as you hold the pose.
Correct use of the breath adds an important dimension to the practice of yoga poses. It brings both physical and mental relaxation and leads naturally and easily to the practice of yoga postures.