In today’s yoga session, we will be less demanding in terms of physical, but no less important as we will entirely be focusing on the various breathing techniques.
Breathing in and out correctly is very important, not just during your yoga sessions or practices but in every moment of your life. A slow breath that draws the air deep into your lungs delivers more oxygen to the blood, fuelling your muscles and enhancing the overall concentration.
It improves all-around cardiovascular function, lessening the anxiety and stress on the heart. It also calms one’s mind, relieving stress and anxiety in an entirely natural and practical way. Yogis usually refer to this practice of improving one’s overall breathing process as the Pranayama.
In Sanskrit, the word Prana often means the “life force,” while the word Yama means the “control,” which underlines how the central correct breathing is often known as the yogic way of life.
Exercise #1: complete breath standing
With this breathing pose, we will learn how to breathe correctly, in steps with the required asanas as you practice them while being mindful, as it will greatly enhance the benefits of yoga and the benefits you draw from the various yoga poses.
- This pose helps in increasing one’s energy & focus
- It also strengthens the spine
- This pose also tones one’s arms & upper body
- It also improves one’s overall balance & posture
- To start with this yoga pose, start standing in the Mountain Pose. Then start to exhale slowly through the nose, while contracting your abdomen and then relaxing both your shoulders and neck. So let your chin sink towards your chest.
- Begin with a long, deep breath as you slowly start to raise your chin and arms, both palms facing upwards. Lifting both of your arms opens your lungs allowing the air to naturally flow in.
- At the same time, rise on both of your toes until both of your arms are fully extended above your head. Then slowly bring your hands together if you feel you can do it. And then accordingly hold the same pose for a count of five.
- And as you begin to exhale gracefully lower both of your arms and then accordingly, sink onto your heels.
- Repeat the same process about five times.
Exercise #2: standing forward bend
Today in this yoga pose, we will combine the slow, deep breathing with the movements in this standing forward bend pose. And by breathing slowly, deeply, and correctly through these asanas, you will be able to take the stretch even further.
- This pose strengthens one’s back muscles
- This pose also stretches the hamstrings
- It also tones one’s digestive organs
- It can also relieve one’s headaches
- Start by standing in the Mountain Pose, with both of your feet just slightly apart.
- Slowly start to inhale as you raise both of your arms to parallel above your head, both palms facing inwards.
- Then accordingly, exhale as you fold forward from both of the hips. Then grasp both your elbows and then accordingly bring your nose as close to your knees as is comfortable without straining too much. You may also bend both of your knees slightly if the stretch is too intense.
- Then accordingly, hold for a count of 20, still breathing in the same position.
- To come out of the pose, place your hands on your hips and slowly raise your upper body to the standing position as you begin to exhale.
- And then accordingly repeat the same process twice.
Exercise #3: half lotus pose
The Half Lotus yoga pose, or also known as the Ardha Padma Sana, is a classic seated yoga pose that works best to open the hips and stretches both of the knees and ankles.
- This pose also builds flexibility in hips, knees & ankles
- It also strengthens one’s spine & abs
- This pose improves one’s posture
- It also increases one’s overall energy
- To start with this yoga pose, start by sitting in Staff Yoga Pose, also lengthening both of your spines from the tailbone through to the top of your head.
- Slowly bend your right knee, clasp the foot with both of your hands, and then accordingly place your foot on top of your still outstretched left leg as far up your thigh as possible (remember your key goal is to place it in the hip crease).
- Then accordingly bend your left knee, and pull the leg in and tuck the heel under your right leg with the heel up against your groin. Then accordingly place both of your hands on your knees, with fingers in the chin mudra.
Note: Skip this yoga pose, or consult your yoga instructor or your medical advisor before attempting it, if you have an acute knee injury or if you have had a knee or hip replacement, then it is advised to skip this pose.
Modifications: Initially the beginners may find that the Half Lotus yoga pose is not easy. In that case, move from the Staff Yoga Pose to a simple maybe a cross-legged yoga position with both of your hands on knees, and fingers in the chin mudra.
If your knees are higher than your hips, or if you feel any discomfort in your knees or your hips, sit on a folded blanket for some support. Then accordingly strengthen your spine, then accordingly relax your shoulders and focus on your breathing.
Exercise #4: alternate nostril breathing
To start with this alternate nostril Breathing pose or also known as the Nadi Shodhana, helps in clearing the nasal passages while increasing the flow of prana, or popularly described as the “life force” through the body.
- It also relieves one’s stress
- This pose also enhances the mental function
- It also soothes one’s nervous system
- It promotes calmness & sleep
- This pose can also boost the energy
- To start with this pose, sit in the Half Lotus Yoga Pose, or maybe in a simpler cross-legged body posture if the Half Lotus yoga pose is not comfortable for you. Then slowly place both of your hands on your knees in the shuni mudra, or also known as the “seal of patience”.
- Slowly as you begin to exhale through your left nostril, use your thumb to close your right nostril. Then similarly, when you begin to inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril. Now you can use your ring and little finger to close your left nostril and slowly exhale through your right nostril.
- Ans while repeating the same process of Inhaling through the right nostril, then close it with your thumb. Then, exhaling through the left nostril.
- This is usually what we call the one complete breathing cycle.
- Accordingly, repeat the same process about seven times.
Exercise #5: Belly Breathing
Belly breathing, also known as Deep Abdominal Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing, is an exercise that will help strengthen your diaphragm leading to more efficient breathing throughout your yoga session or even throughout the day.
- This breathing exercise brings more oxygen into one’s blood.
- It also massages one’s abdominal organs, while improving digestion & lymphatic drainage.
- It also calms one’s nervous system, while reducing heart rate.
- To start with this exercise, lie on the floor face up in the Corpse Yoga Pose. Then accordingly, place both of your hands and palms downwards over your belly just below the ribcage and then slowly inhale and deeply through your nose.
- Then start to inhale calmly and slowly until you cannot take or breathe in more air comfortably.
- By now, you should be able to feel your belly expand with each breath. Now start to gently breathe out through your partly closed mouth, and then tighten your stomach muscles as you start to exhale to push the air out of the stomach.
- Then repeat the entire exercise session slowly and calmly for about 2–3 minutes.
Exercise #6: corpse pose
This Corpse Yoga Pose or also known as the Shavasana is the ideal moment to focus on your breathing while paying close attention to each rhythm without judgment.
- This yoga pose also relaxes one’s mind & body after the physical exertion
- It also promotes deep relaxation
- It can also reduce one’s fatigue
- To start with this exercise, lie on your back with both of your arms at your sides, and your palms up. Let your feet drop open. And then slowly close your eyes.
- Then starting from the soles of your feet, carefully scan up to the crown of your head, while releasing the tension in your joints and the muscles along the way.
- Then accordingly invite and allow the peace into your mind and body. Use your breath as a guide, as your focus to clear your mind and keep yourself attentive to the present moment.
- While in the same position, make sure to rest for about 5–10 minutes with a clear mind.
Whenever you feel the need to take a break from all the chaos that is happening in the world right now, just close your eyes and practice the above-mentioned breathing exercise continuously.
(Also Read: Yoga for Mindful Focus)