Yoga for Beginners – Breathing

yoga-for-beginners-breathing -1Many  control  systems  and  other  internal  and  external factors  are  involved  in  the  regulation  of  our  breathing. The  breathing  pattern,  i.e.,  its  depth  and  frequency, changes  according  to  how  much  oxygen  is  required  by the  muscles  or  the  brain  in  different  circumstances. Receptors  in  the  blood  and  in  the  pulmonary  alveoli sense  when  the  supply  must  be  increased. At  rest,  we breathe about 12 – 16 times per minute.

During  relaxation  or  meditation,  the  breathing  rate  can fall  to  four  breaths  per  minute,  when  the  brain  and muscles are in rest and recovery mode.

Nasal Breathing

It is natural to breathe through the nose, and our breathing    naturally    switches    between    the    two    nostrils. Chronobiological   research   shows   that   this   happens every two hours, with 80% of the air breathed in passing through the favored nostril.

Advantages of Nasal Breathing

The   natural   narrowing   means   that   the   air   inhaled through the nose is

  • cleaner,
  • more moistened and
  • warmer than when breathed in through the mouth.

The  mucus  membranes  work  as  a  filter,  which  is  why you  should  always  breathe  in  and  out  through  your nose. The nostrils are also the location of our olfactory organs, which sense pleasant or unpleasant odors that then influence our state of mind.

If  the  activity  level  of  the  diaphragm  is  increased,  e.g., by  the  increased  resistance  of  nasal  breathing,  this causes other benefits, such as the promotion of venous return from the legs.

Abdominal Breathing

The downward movement of the diaphragm when inhaling  compresses  and  stimulates  the  organs  below. This gentle   pumping   action   stimulates   and   activates   the metabolism of the organs involved in the digestive process. When you breathe out, your diaphragm rises and massages   your   heart   and   also   activates   the   vagus nerve.   During   the   inspiration   phase   of   deep   yogic breathing,  the  air  then  flows  into  the  abdomen.  Then the movement continues over the chest and the collar- bone.  Breathing  can  become  shallow,  especially  during exertion,  i.e.,  in  difficult  or  unfamiliar  asanas  (positions), so this is precisely when you should really try to breathe deeply but calmly.

Yoga for Beginners - Breathing

“Relaxation Pose”

Observe  your  body:  does  your  chest  or  your  abdomen rise  first  when  you  inhale?  The  former  is  a  sign  of breast  breathing,  the  latter  of  abdominal  breathing.

Breathing and State of Mind

The way we breathe reflects our state of mind, which is why our experience of the same breathing exercises can vary from day to day.

Your  state  of  mind  is  reflected  in  your  breathing,  and you can control it by controlling your breathing.

The Breathing Phases

There are three phases in the breathing process: inhalation, exhalation, and the retention of breath, the length of which depends on how relaxed you are.

If you feel unwell during the breathing exercises, or are suffering  from  dizziness,  nausea  or  a  headache,  you should  stop.  If  these  feelings  persist,  stop  exercising altogether. You should only perform the exercises while you are feeling well.

Lung Activation

Raise  your  arms  to  the  side  at  head  height  with  the palms facing upward, breathing in deeply as you do so. Fold  your  hands  and  hold  your  breath.  Straighten  your arms upward and in this state of tension lean your upper body  first  to  the  right  and  then  to  the  left. Then  center your  body  again  and  only  then  breathe  out,  lowering your  extended  arms  down  to  the  side  of  your  body.

  • With your  in-breath,  raise  your  arms  and  imagine that you are taking in energy.
  • With your  out-breath,  exhale  stale  air  and  expended energy.
  • Breathe in and out through your nose.

Gorilla

Breathe in deeply and hold your breath. Tap your lungs with  your  fingertips,  moving  outwards  from  your  chest to your collarbone. Tap yourself from your chest down- ward and also tap your ribs and back. When it becomes uncomfortable   to   hold   your   breath,   breathe   out   in bursts  until  your  lungs  are  completely  empty,  leaning slightly forward as you do so.

Hold  your  breath  for  a  moment  and  then  breathe  in deeply through your nose.

The second time around, hit your chest with a flat hand and the third time with your fist.

  • Before  holding  your  breath,  inhale  just  enough  so that it doesn’t hurt when you beat your chest.
  • The  beating  action  stimulates  your  blood  circulation, your metabolism and your lungs.
  • As you hold your breath, relax your face, your neck and your larynx.

Fire Reverence – Agni Sara

Inhale deeply, then breathe out and in again. Then noisily exhale as much air as possible through pursed lips, bending forward as you do so. Keep your back straight and   place   your   hands   on   your   thighs.   Pull   your stomach  upward  and  inward.  Hold  your  breath  after exhaling.  Perform  a  pumping  movement  in  which  you expand  and  contract  in  your  stomach  as  quickly  as possible.   When   you   feel   the   need   to   breathe,   you should   do   so.   Breathe   quickly   but   under   control through your nose as you straighten yourself up again. Breathe  out  and  in  twice  more  before  repeating  the whole exercise 1-2 times.

This exercise gives you energy and stimulates digestion. You  can  increase  the  effect  by  drinking  half  a  glass  of lukewarm  water  before  performing  this  exercise  on  an empty stomach.

Alternate Nostril Breathing – Anuloma Viloma, Nadi Shodana

Breathe out and in twice a little more deeply than nor- mal  to  prepare  yourself  for  this  exercise.  Alternately close  your  right  nostril  with  your  right  thumb  and  your left  nostril  with  your  ring  finger.  Bend  your  index  and ring   finger.  Always   inhale   through   the   same   nostril through   which   you   just   exhaled,   and   then   exhale through  the  other  one.  Count  to  four  as  you  breathe out and to eight as you breathe in, in the same rhythm. Inhale and exhale about 10 times.

  • Alternate  nostril  breathing  helps  you  control  your breathing and open your nasal passages. This breathing exercise helps to fight allergies, hay fever and asthma and prevent head colds.
  • Emotional  imbalances  are  transformed  into  a  calm feeling of power and strength.
  • Sun (active) and moon (calm) energies are harmonized.

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