by Heather Greaves - the Self Care Expert and Body Therapies Yoga TrainingYoga Breathing is an intrinsic part of your yoga exercise. Let's look at the impact forgetting to breathe has on you in 4 different areas. Then we'll examine the benefits of yoga breathing in any sitting pose. (Experience this for yourself as you are sitting reading this article.) When you practice at home, you have to remember to breathe without the reminder of a yoga teacher. I hope by understanding the importance of breathing in a yoga pose, you will be inspired to practice yoga breathing, on and off the mat.
If you are holding a yoga pose, difficulty increases unnecessarily.
There's a building of pressure within the body, unnecessarily and unconsciously.
The yoga pose is experienced as being heavier than it could be.
Your ability to observe and feel your body is compromised.
When holding a pose there are actually many options for breathing that produce varying effects that span the range from relaxing to energizing. Today let's look at breathing completely as our example, while maintaining a regular rhythm. To breathe completely, first exhale fully gently drawing the abdomen in towards the end of the exhalation. Then relax the abdomen and inhale fully, slowly.
Benefits of Yoga Breathing
1. Reduces muscle tension - As the breath expands the ribcage, muscles from the shoulders to abdomen can relax more and more. The breathing from the diaphragm can relax even the muscles of the organs within the body; especially the stomach and intestines.
2. Increases energy, improves circulation, and reduces fatigue - The body itself works less to receive an ample supply of oxygen. The words prana, chi, ki are used for life energy. Exhaling completely removes stale air and allows even more life energy to nourish all cells within the body.
3. Decreases perception of pain - If there is pain in the lower back while sitting, a deep breath can reduce tension in that area, and certainly the perception of pain anywhere in the body.
4. Calms the mind - The long slow exhalations that are part of our yoga breathing technique today reduces the chatter in the head and quiets the mind.
5. Increases intellectual alertness - You become acutely aware of what's happening within your body, how correctly you are holding the yoga pose, the amount of tension in your legs and shoulders, where your focus is, what subtle adjustments can be made to enhance the pose, how you feel in the pose.
"It is only in the space that our thoughts and our feelings enclose that our happiness can breathe in freedom - Maurice Maeterlinck"