There could be many reasons why you’re interested in learning a simple breathing technique in yoga. For some of us we’re wanting to use these breathing exercises to develop practical skills and improve our yoga and meditation practice. While for others, we might be drawn to the physiological benefits. Like the ability to increase our breath capacity and be able breathe more efficiently. And then there’s also those of us that are looking for psychological support to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve our sleep.
No matter what your motivation for focusing on breathing in yoga is, it’s useful to have a simple breathing exercise available at your fingertips to use in your yoga practice and off the mat.
Want to jump right into the practice? Find a quiet place to sit and follow along with this 5 minute breathing exercise to cultivate a full yogic breath.
In this blog we’ll explore a simple support breathing practice (also known as pranayama) that you can practice at the beginning or end of your yoga practice, or even at another point during your day.
Full Yogic Breath Instructions
You can work on cultivating a full yogic breath by following the below instructions. If you prefer to sit with your eyes closed while being guided you can follow along with this breathing technique on YouTube.
Come to a comfortable seated position and rest one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
Allow your breath on the inhale to expand out into your belly and chest lift up towards your hands. And then on the exhale allow your breath to move out away from your chest as it sinks down and out of your belly as it draws back.
Repeat this breathing pattern for a minimum of 10 – 20 breaths and if you like for around 5 – 10 minutes.
Try taking your hands away from your belly and chest for the last five rounds of breath and see if you can feel the more subtle movements of the body on each breath.
How to Be Effective When Practicing the Breathing Exercises
How should I sit?
You want to keep your spine long throughout so that you really give your upper body space to breathe freely. You can focus on your bone structure, allowing your head and shoulders to stack above your hips. And then seeing if you can ground your hips and lift up and lengthen through your spine, right up to the crown of your head. At the same time release any tension from your belly and face. And allow your shoulders to be heavy.
If you’ve discovered a comfortable way to sit for meditation this can be a great position for seated breathing techniques too.
What if I don’t feel any movement in my body related to my breath?
If it feels hard to feel the movement of your belly and chest with each breath see if you can allow your breath to deepen. It might help to imagine the way that babies, cats and dogs breathe with their full upper body.
The pressure of your hands resting on your belly and chest can help sense some movement there with your breath. If this is still difficult to feel, you might start by trying to imagine this movement with the breath. And see if over time this helps feeling the movement of your full yogic breathing.
How often should I do these breathing exercises, and how long should they be done for?
Like with any home yoga routine one of the key ways that you’ll notice success is by practicing the same thing consistently over a period of time. How often and long you’re able to commit to doing this breathing technique will be for you to decide.
If possible I’d recommend trying for at least 5 minutes 2-3 times a week. That way you can really give yourself time to get familiar with the technique and notice benefits for yourself.
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