How to Practice Yoga Breathing Techniques

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Many people who study yoga report that the most practical lessons they learn from their studies are not only how to exercise and meditate, but also how to breathe in new and conscious ways that change their lives for the better. Before you read this chapter, take a breath and notice how you feel. Notice the air going in and out of your lungs and how the air feels in your nose, mouth, and throat.

The breathing techniques we present here are designed to relax and energize you. We didn’t invent these breathing techniques; they’re ancient practices from traditional yoga. The breath is the bridge between the mind and body. In traditional yoga, subtle breathwork and diaphragmatic breathing are helpful in leading you toward deeper self-realization. The breathing techniques are considered an art and science in the yoga system, and yoga teachers have skillfully refined and perfected these breathing techniques over the centuries.

You can practice these breathing techniques by themselves or as you do your yoga-with-weights workouts. You can consider these techniques “explorations.” As you master these breathing techniques, pay attention to the subtle and sometimes powerful ways that they affect your body
and mind. Get to know each technique so that you can call on it when you need it. For example, depending on how the techniques make you feel, you may try the Complete Breath when you’re anxious or the Ocean Breath when you’re low on energy. You can do these breathing techniques while you’re sitting, lying down, or standing.

After experimenting for a while, you discover the breath that feels best to you while you’re working out. For each workout in yoga book, we suggest a certain breath, but that doesn’t mean you can’t substitute a breath you prefer.

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