Aimee Christine Hughes, ND
Breath is the key to life. Learning to breathe freely, observing the breath so that it gradually penetrates every cell of the body, is fundamental to healing. Yoga's systematic breathing techniques can help soothe stress, ease pain, and strengthen lungs.
Breath is the key to life. Learning to breathe freely, observing the breath so that it gradually penetrates every cell of the body, is fundamental to healing.
Yoga's systematic breathing techniques can help soothe stress, ease pain, and strengthen lungs. By paying attention to our breathing, making it deeper and more conscious, we make optimal use of our pranic energy. Tension is released, a sense of calm eases the mind, and new awareness is reached, uplifting the body, mind, and spirit.
The following breathing exercises are meant to calm your spirit and lighten your heart. Always keep your eyes closed to maintain an inner peace.
1. Dirgha Calm belly breathing
Lie flat on your back in relaxation pose, arms extended, palms facing up and feet naturally splayed open. If you need to modify this pose due to pain in the lower back, place a rolled towel under the neck or knees, or simply bend the knees, leaning them against one another. Gently empty the lungs while observing the navel fall. Practise breathing in and out through the nose for five minutes. Meditate on the navel rising and falling.
2. Nadi shodhana Alternate nostril breathing
Sit in a comfortable position. Hold your right hand in front of your face with your middle and index fingers curled toward your palm. Place your thumb next to your right nostril and your ring finger next to your left nostril. Use your thumb to close your right nostril and inhale, slowly and deeply, through the left. Pause. Release your right nostril and use your ring finger to close your left nostril; exhale slowly and fully. Pause, keeping your left nostril closed; inhale slowly and deeply. Pause. Release your left nostril and close your right nostril; exhale slowly and fully. This is one full round of nadi shodhana. Start with five to 10 rounds, and increase as your comfort level grows.
3. Ujjayi Ocean breathing
Begin with your mouth open and exhale making a "ha" sound. Close your mouth and exhale the same "ha" sound in the back of your throat. Make the same sound while inhaling through your nose with your mouth closed (this is done by constricting the back of your throat). It should feel as if you're trying to inhale through a straw. Pause; exhale deeply. Do this exercise for three to five minutes.
4. Shitali Cooling breath
Sit in a comfortable position. Curl up the edges of your tongue, letting the tip protrude slightly. Or keep your lips slightly parted and draw in air over the tip of the tongue. If you can curl the tongue, inhale slowly through the tip, feeling the coolness of the air flowing inside it. Now close the mouth, pull your tongue in and exhale through your nose completely. Do this six times. Then breathe normally for several breaths, and repeat the exercise.
Do these breathing exercises whenever you wish, but try to keep up a regular practice to reap their full benefit.
Pranayama is the science of breathing. In Sanskrit, prana means "life force" and ayana means "to prolong or regulate."