Home Fitness Yoga Styles Breathing Exercises

Yoga Breathing Exercises


yoga breathing

One of the most important aspects of yoga is breathing. Followers of the art of yoga stress that breath cleanses toxins from the system. In addition, this allows for the transfer of good energies throughout the body, and is a means to control the connection between the mind and body.

Any study of yoga is not complete without an overview of ways to focus your breath. This includes when performing movements and poses and its overall function within the body.

As a general rule, a practitioner of yoga breathes in when flexing or entering a pose and exhales when returning to rest. This changes when a pose is held and breath is used to either stabilize the body or as a means to time how long the pose is meant to be held.

In some poses breath actually assumes the role of an assistant to the proper form in that it can be drawn in to change the position or shape of some organs. In addition, proper breathing plays an important role in calming, centering, and cleansing the mind.

Breathing In Yoga


Most of the time, when you breathe, emphasis is placed on the inhalation and the exhalation is a necessary process to prepare for another breath. In Yoga, however, emphasis is placed on exhalation. In fact, some forms of Yoga (such as chanting styles) require a syllable to be uttered upon exhalation (Ah, or hmmm).

In Yoga, there are three distinct ways to breathe:

Diaphragmatic: Most men breathe in a diaphragmatic way. The lungs fill with air from the bottom and a swelling of the abdomen occurs. This is considered the best way to breathe.

Intercostal: The lungs fill with air primarily in the middle and the ribs rise. The thoracic cage dilates and less air is taken in (when compared to diaphragmatic). This type of breathing is considered incorrect as it requires more effort and provides less air.

Clavicular: Many women breathe in a clavicular way. Breathing is labored and done by a raise of the shoulders. The lungs fill with air only in the upper most regions. This is considered the worst way to breathe.

In yoga, a complete and perfect breath combines all of the three ways to breathe into one fluid motion:

  1. Let all of your breath out.

  2. Gently drop your diaphragm and begin to take a breath.

  3. Raise your rib cage effortlessly.

  4. Raise your shoulders to fill the top of the lungs.

Yoga Breathing Exercises


yoga breathing

Equal Breathing: is meant to put the mind in a state of inner-calmness and peace. Begin in a sitting position. Shut your eyes and focus upon how your breath enters and leaves your body. Slowly count to 5 as you draw breath in and then exhale for the same amount of time. Breathe in this way for 5 minutes.

Skull Shining Breath: is believed to be a way to cleanse the body of toxins and prevent a variety of illnesses. Begin in a sitting position. Breathing only through the nose, inhale and exhale 4 or 5 times. Once complete, draw a full breath in through the nose and exhale quickly as soon as your lungs are completely filled with air. Continue this process for a minimum of at least 5 minutes.

Cooling Breath: is meant to release heat from the body. Begin in a sitting position. Breathing through the nose, inhale and exhale 4 or 5 times. Roll your tongue (it should look like a hot dog bun stuck out of your mouth from the front). Draw breath in through the mouth and exhale using your nose. This may be repeated as many times as you wish.

Abdominal Breathing: Begin in a sitting position. Put your hands on your belly and feel the air filling up your body. As you breathe, feel the abdominal muscles contracting. Try breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth (pursed lips).

One Nostril Breath: Closing your right nostril with your finger, draw in breath very slowly through the nose. Let the breath out in the same way. This exercise may be repeated using the other nostril.

Facts and Statistics


yoga breathing

When you control breathing while exercising, breath becomes more regular and any form of activity becomes about 56% more effective. Remembering to breathe while lifting the body rather than holding your breath is important for muscle oxidation and the prevention of strains.

According to studies of the lungs and their function, most people normally only use 25% of their lung's total capacity. With lungs having an estimated 75 million cells, only one quarter of those cells, or around 19 million, are being used every time we breathe. On average, human beings draw 21,600 breaths every day. This equates to approximately 88 pounds of oxygen into the body.

Your body uses several ways to remove toxins. Defecating removes 3%, Urinating removes 7%, Sweating removes 20%, and Breathing removes 70%. As is evident, the majority of toxins are removed from the body through breathing. For this reason, the importance of deep and proper breathing can not be overstated.