Yoga breathing techniques, commonly known as pranayama, are an essential component of any growing yoga practice. Pranayama is one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga included in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, which indicates it was considered an essential step on the route to enlightenment.
Learning to soothe or stimulate the body via breathing will substantially improve many parts of your life, in addition to strengthening and enhancing your yoga asana practice. Paying attention to the breath is another meditation practice that can be employed on or off the mat since it keeps us in the present moment. When the mind is totally concentrated, the past and future fade away.
What Exactly Is Prana?
Prana is a Sanskrit word that implies energy, breath, or life force. Learning to direct and manage prana in the body has long been seen as an essential component of yoga. 1 Breathing, being a necessary physical function, is an involuntary act.
Although we cannot control whether or not we breathe, we can regulate how we breathe to some extent. At the heart of pranayama practice are exercises in breath control, such as breath retention and purposeful techniques of intake and expiration for particular mental and physical advantages.
Your Autonomic Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system, which includes the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, controls breathing. In general, the sympathetic nervous system is in charge of regulating our responses to stimuli, determining whether they are dangerous, and triggering the signals that inform the body how to respond. This is also referred to as fight or flight reaction.
The parasympathetic nervous system assists the body in returning to normal when a threat or stressor has gone through. Breathing is one of the things that the sympathetic nervous system influences.
When you are in actual danger, your respiration becomes quick and short as your body strives to load itself with oxygen to aid in your escape. This breathing pattern is also a response to non-life-threatening situations. It occurs in response to panic and then feeds the panic.
When you’re aware of how stresses affect your sympathetic nervous system, you may purposefully slow and deepen your breathing to indicate to your body that it’s OK to relax. You may utilise your breath as a strong force to regulate your body’s responses to stress.
Three-Part Breath – Dirga Pranayama:
Excellent breathing practise for beginners. Three-part breathing teaches you how to completely fill and empty your lungs, which is vital because you’re probably not used to using your entire lung capacity. It’s also a good way to start your yoga practice.
Equal Breathing – Sama Vritti Pranayama:
Taking long, deep, leisurely breaths helps to relax the body. Bringing your whole attention on maintaining the same length of inhalations and exhalations engages your mind, providing it with a much-needed reprieve from its typical hum of activity.
Alternate Nostril Breathing – Nadi Sodhana:
In nadi sodhana, you close one nostril and exhale and inhale through the open pathway before switching sides. 2 This assists in restoring equilibrium by cleansing the energy channels on both sides of the body.
Cooling Breath – Shitali Pranyama:
A simple breath, ideal for a hot day or when the body is heated after yoga poses.
Ocean Breath – Ujjayi Pranayama:
Ujjayi breath is fascinating since it both calms the sympathetic nervous system and increases oxygen intake. Because it is strong enough to support a forceful flow, it is the fundamental breath utilised in vinyasa yoga.
Lion’s Breath – Simhasana:
Lion’s breath relieves facial tension and allows you to expel some steam. 2 It is possible to perform it at any time throughout a yoga session.
Skull Shining Breath – Kapalabhati Pranayama:
This difficult breathing technique is best learnt from an experienced teacher, as it can cause lightheadedness if done incorrectly. This breath, if mastered, creates heat and clears the nasal passages.