If you have never attempted to do yoga before, then you might assume that it is a form of exercise that is all about stretching and flexibility. Of course, there is a large degree of both of these in yoga, but there is so much more as well. One of the biggest elements of all kinds of yoga that you might not have thought about before is breathing. Breathing and the different ways that it can be done plays a huge part in the various poses and benefits of yoga and getting your breathing right is almost as important as getting your poses right! To help you out, here are some of the most common breathing techniques in yoga explained.
● Ujjayi Pranayama
This is sometimes referred to as ‘ocean breath‘ and is practiced by inhaling and exhaling through the nose while slightly contracting the back of your throat. It gets its ocean nickname because the sound that you make from contracting your throat almost resembles sea based white noise.
Also known as skull shining breath, this is a technique that is believed to be able to clear the mind. You sit in a comfortable seat and place your left palm face up on the left knee, with your right hand going on your belly. You then breath with fast, forceful inhales that allow you to passively inhale between exhales. It has the effect of clearing your energy and detoxifying your body.
This is the technique of breath retention, which can help to clear your thoughts and reach a better level of concentration. It can be performed by inhaling as much as possible to inflate your lungs, and then holding that breath for around 10 seconds, and then inhaling a little bit more before holding the full amount for as long as you can. Be careful not to hold for too long as this isn’t an exercise that is intended to make you pass out!
● Nadi Shodhana
This is the term for what you might recognise as alternate nostril breathing. It is a simple technique to master, just sit comfortably with your spine straight and bring your right palm to in front of your face. Closing your eyes, take a deep breath before exhaling. Next, close your right nostril with your thumb so that you exhale only through your left nostril. Repeat the process again on the opposite side and do this pattern for about 5 to 10 cycles depending on how much time you have. This is a great way to unlock blocked energy channels.
So, now that you know how to breathe properly for yoga, the only thing left to do is pick up a great quality yoga mat and book a slot in your first class! Yoga really is a form of exercise that can be performed by anybody, so no matter what your level of experience or ability is, don’t be afraid to take that first step and we can guarantee that you will fall in love with this ancient and beneficial practice.