Breathing is a key component to your yoga practice. Not only does focused, conscious breathing allow you to deliver more oxygen to your body, but it also allows you to hold difficult poses longer. In addition to these main benefits, controlled and deep breathing encourages your body to relax both physically and mentally, further enriching your practice. Think of these three breath-related things when practicing:
1. Focusing Breath During Practice
Breathing occurs automatically—so much so, that we rarely stop to check how we are breathing. And during periods of stress or tension, our breath often becomes shallower and quicker. Yoga asks that we tune into our breath and truly expand our lungs. Focusing our breathing in this way strengthens the entire respiratory system. It also begins creating muscle memory, which means that even without conscious thought, the lungs expand to fuller capacity as we go about our daily routines.
2. Building Strength Through the Breath
Controlled breathing can also help you better control your movements as well as hold a pose for a longer period of time. Deep breathing improves your neuro-muscular coordination, allowing you to move smoothly from posture to posture. Consciously opening the chest, breathing through the nose, expanding the belly and contracting it not only encourages correct posture but encourages the body to exercise the muscles as it is meant to do.
3. Increasing Oxygen By Breathing Deeply
Our bodies crave oxygen. The brain, nervous system, and blood especially rely on oxygen to function optimally. Increasing the body’s oxygen intake helps to purify the blood as well as rid the body of toxins. Organs begin to function optimally instead of minimally. The mind often finds a deeper relaxation too; focusing on breath pushes inconsequential thoughts and troubles away, inviting a more meditative state of mind.
Breath should never be taken for granted. In fact, it is as important to work towards perfecting your breathing technique as it is to perfect your posture technique. Each yoga session should begin by focusing on breath. This attentiveness to the breath should continue long past the session’s conclusion. Remember to check in with yourself throughout your practice and note the fullness of your inhalations and exhalations. Challenge yourself to breath as deeply as you can as you enjoy the energy yoga brings to you.
Pranayama, or the ability to control one’s breath, aims to assist the individual in delivering more oxygen throughout the body using proper breathing techniques. Proper techniques draw air in through the nose while allowing the lungs to fill to capacity. In our daily lives, our postures and inattentiveness to our breathing often result in shallow, rather than full, breathing. In our yoga practice, heart-lifted postures and attentiveness to our breathing result in deep, full breaths which resonate throughout the body.