The Yoga Breath and why it is important

Pranayama (Life Force) (Breathing)

 Pranayama falls under the 4th Limb of Yoga

The Importance Of Breathing

During a yoga class, your instructor will tell you to consciously think about your breathing. Your breathing is just as important as the poses because it allows for a deeper mind and body connection. Thinking about your breath also allows you to tailor your movements to when you inhale and exhale. For example, when you inhale, you have more energy, which is why you typically move into a new pose as you take a breath. On the other hand, as you exhale, you should feel your muscles relax, which is when you should be stretching or sinking deeper into the pose.

How Breathing Can Improve Your Form

Practice is essential if you want to improve your yoga skills. While mastering the movements and poses is important, it’s also necessary that you focus on the breathing aspects as well. As you practice yoga at home, pay special attention to how you breathe.

Simply breathing and noticing the natural breath precedes any Pranayama practice

The breath is the only voluntary and involuntary body function in the body that reveals your unconscious emotional, mental and physical patterns. We can only heal and transform these patterns once we choose to recognise them. Otherwise, your breath will continue telling your story whether you choose to listen or not. Once you realise that you can influence the depth, rhythm and sound of the breath, you will understand the power of Pranayama.

First steps- Sit in a comfortable meditative portion that allows your neck, back and crown of the head to be in a straight line. This can be with your back against a wall fro support or even lying down flat on your back in Savasana (Corpse pose) 

  • Breathe in and notice thoughts as they arise.

  • Breathe out and notice thoughts as they dissipate.

  • Give yourself permission to release your attachment to your thoughts during this time of meditation.

  • Return to the moment with a calm and clear open mind.

A Moment of Silence: Sahita Pranayama

The resting state known as Kumbhaka exists in between the active processes of inhalation and exhalation. Practicing this method increases mental and physical endurance and places the emphasis on stillness—as long as there is no attempt to hold the breath with force and create even more anxiety.

Here’s how to gain the greatest benefit without causing more stress:

  • Inhale with a natural and focused breath and pause

  • Hold the breath, not to the point of discomfort or struggle, but long enough to settle into the stillness

  • Exhale the natural breath and pause

  • Hold the breath, notice the stillness

  • Repeat for up to 5 minutes and then rest in Savasana – Practice Yoga Nidra desired- Click here for a Level 1 Podcast cor just close your eyes and be still for approx. 20 minutes or more

Surya Bhedana

In its simplest form, Surya Bhedana Pranayama is inhaling fully through the right nostril, holding the breath and then exhaling through the left nostril.

Explained:

To assist with this pranayama, the yogi places the forefinger and middle finger of the right hand between the eyebrows, then uses the ring finger to close the left nostril for the inhalation. The thumb is used to close off the right nostril while the breath is held for as long as is comfortable. The ring finger is then lifted to allow full exhalation through the left nostril.

The body has three main nadis, or channels, through which energy flows. They are the ida (left), pingala (right) and sushumna (central). The pingala nadi, which represents masculine sun energy, begins in the muladhara (root) chakra and ends at the right nostril, which serves as a sort of entrance to this sun energy. By practicing surya bhedana pranayama, the yogi taps into and activates the pingala nadi energy, which controls physical work and animation of the body.

Clare McGill