Could yoga breathing be the answer you are looking for?
This world can feel like a crazy place sometimes. Many people respond to today’s challenges by feeling anxious or withdrawing. Others find themselves allergic, in pain or concerned about other health issues.
How To Use Yoga To Handle Stress
When the going gets tough or the little things become irritating beyond tolerance, do you tend to fly off the handle easily or bottle up your emotions?
Imagine your life with less pain, reduced anxiety or with lower blood pressure. Imagine staying calm in the midst of crisis.
The breath is intimately connected to many of our physiological processes and to our emotions. For example if you get angry or upset your breath will be irregular, rapid and shallow. If you feel pain you may find yourself holding your breath or breathing very shallowly. If you continue these breathing patterns you will continue to be angry or your pain may worsen.
The breath is also connected to our spiritual states of being. When we are feeling unconnected and out of tune, the breath may be heavy and frequent. When we are feeling our bliss the breath feels lighter. In the ultimate states of reverie, samadhi or enlightenment, the breath slows down and may even stop. Becoming breathless is not the same as holding the breath. In fact it is quite the opposite.
Both the positive and the negative reactive breathing patterns happen automatically.
The good news is that you can choose to control and change your breathing. When you do this you can calm down or feel less pain. The concept is simple but it’s not always easy to do. Especially in the heat of the moment or the intensity or persistence of pain.
Having a regular practice of yoga breathing can help you to change your breathing patterns when you need it the most.
If you wait until you are emotionally out of control or feeling the onset of a headache, it’s really difficult to try to practice a breathing technique that you don’t know well. That’s why it’s important to practice breathing exercises on a daily basis.
The amazing side effect of practicing regularly is that you just may find that you don’t fly off the handle so easily, that your health is improving or you become the one who stays calm when everyone else is running in circles.
Change your breathing, change your life
Yoga Breathing helps us physically
- Reverse the stress response
- Lower heart rate
- Reduce pain
- Sleep better
Yoga Breathing helps us mentally & emotionally
- Reduce anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Reduce depression
- Feel happy
Yoga Breathing helps us spiritually
- Brings us to a state of calm
- Helps us to focus
- Helps us to feel connected
- Aides in feeling bliss
Think about it. If yoga breathing can positively affect this many areas of your life, consider how profound it is. On the flip side, incorrect breathing can be harmful.
Become aware of your breathing habits to change them.
If you want to change negative breathing habits, start by watching your breath. Is it:
- or do you hold your breath?
Often we are unaware of our breathing habits. You may find that the act of observing your breath will help you begin to change your breathing patterns. For example, you may not realize that you hold your breath when you are tense. As soon as you notice that you are holding your breath you are going to start breathing.
How to Practice Yoga Breathing
There are three phases of yoga breathing. In all phases breathe through your nose. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed.
First phase is belly breathing. This is the foundational yoga breathing practice. It is used when no other breathing or pranayama is specified.
- Begin with your hands on your belly. As you inhale feel your belly move under your hands as it expands.
- As you exhale, feel your belly contract under your hands.
- Allow your breath to be as deep and slow as possible.
- Once you feel that you have the first phase often called belly breathing down, you can take your hands off and continue breathing without them on your belly.
Second phase. This phase is usually not practiced by itself, other than to learn it as a stepping stone to the full yogic breath.
- Begin with belly breathing – as you inhale continue to inhale until both your belly area and then your lower ribs expand with the incoming breath.
- Exhale and feel first your lower ribs contracting and then your belly.
- Make the movement smooth and continuous.
- This phase is sometimes called 2 – part breathing.
Thirds phase or Full Yogic Breath. Feel as you inhale that you are expanding your lungs in all directions, not just in front.
- Continue past the second phase until the upper lungs expand with the inhalation.
- Pause for just a moment with the breath in.
- Exhale contracting the upper ribs, then the lower ribs and finally your belly.
The more you practice, the easier it will be to take deep, full, even and relaxed breaths. The more you practice the more you will benefit and be the calm, healthy person in the crowd.
To find out more about the importance of breathing, in all aspects of your life, check out this inspirational video by the wonderful Cecilia Sardeo of Zenward:
What are you waiting for? If you really want to make an impact on your life, start your yoga breathing now!