Friday, September 18, 2015

Yogic Breathing, an introduction

Breathing is a natural process, one in which we don’t have to think or make any extra effort. Due to this, many people tend to not give much importance to breathing technique during yoga practices as we give to the postures (asanas). On the contrary, yogic breathing technique (Pranayama) is the essence of the yoga practice. Without pranayama one cannot get the true benefits of any yoga posture or prepare for meditation.
“Yogic breathing technique is at once a physical health practice, mental health practice, and meditation. It is not just breath training, it’s mind training that uses the breath as a vehicle,” says Roger Cole, PhD, Yoga teacher
Some of the important beginners’ yogic breathing techniques are:
1) NATURAL BREATH AWARENESS: This is the practice where you observe your natural breath without trying to manipulate in any way. After some time you should be able to feel the movement in your belly and certain tension in your chest region with every inhalation and a feeling of relaxation with every exhalation. You can practice natural breath awareness for 5 to 10 minutes.
2) ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING: In this practice you inhale and exhale fully through the left nostril while keeping your right nostril closed. Than repeat the same process with the right nostril while keeping the left nostril closed. You can practice this technique up to ten rounds in each nostril. Another important point to remember is you should try to develop a breath discipline by controlling the inhalation/exhalation for exactly the same length of time.
3) BREATH RETENTION: This is the most important practice because holding breath increases the pressure inside the lungs and gives them time to fully expand, increasing their capacity. As a result it allows more time for the proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the cells. In this practice, inhale and inflate your lungs to the full capacity and then hold the breath for 5 seconds. After 5 seconds inhale a little more for the second time and keep the retention for as long as you are comfortable, than exhale out. You can practice breath retention for up to 5 rounds.

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