Breathing is an essential part of our lives. In fact, we breathe around 20,000 times per day. Moreover, we already have to learn to breathe properly from the moment we came into this world as babies. However, many of us have unknowingly adopted improper breathing habits by the time we reached adulthood. As a result, we experience health problems due to these habits.
For example, poor breathing can cause adverse effects to our various systems of our body such as the circulatory, endocrine, and nervous systems. Among common symptoms many of us can experience due to poor breathing include dizziness, chest pains, anxiety attacks, and body pains, to name a few. Likewise, shortness of breath every time we engage in intense physical activities and vocal strain are also caused by improper breathing.
The above reasons are why we have to be aware of how we breathe. So, how can we achieve proper breathing? We can do this by practicing correct Ashtanga Yoga breathing. Knowing the proper way of breathing can be one of the best things you can do for your body and for yourself.
According to an article posted on AshtangaWorkshop.com, “breathing (pranayama) is the heart of ashtanga yoga, and breathing correctly is at the core of our search for heatlh, wellness, contentment, and peace.” In Ashtanga yoga, Ujjayi breath is often used.
In Sanskrit, “ujjayi” means “victorious breath”. It is called such because “Ujjayi breath is a method through which lungs are expanded fully in all directions, hence the chest expands and moves upwards similarly to that of a victorious warrior,” according to blog post on YogaCsaj.blogspot.com.
Every yoga pose is connected to proper breathing. It helps keep us calm, comfortable, and composed every time we attempt to do a yoga pose, no matter how complicated it is. However, there will be times that you may run out of breath from doing yoga, or get frustrated because you weren’t able to achieve a difficult pose. After all, yoga is not really that easy at first.
Nevertheless, we should not ignore the importance of proper breathing in yoga and even in our daily lives. You may have noticed that when you are tense or angry, you are most likely to be advised to take a deep breath before you even do something irrational. More often than not, taking a deep breath somewhat does wonders of keeping you calm.
The same goes when we try yoga – before even getting started with yoga poses, we have to learn to breathe correctly. To do the right Ashtanga yoga breathing technique and be able to apply it to your daily life, you can seek the guidance of an experience teacher of yogi.
You can see in this post to know why ashtanga yoga is good for you.
You can reap the benefits of proper breathing, among which are the following as enumerated by an article posted on MindBodyGreen.com:
1. It helps improve concentration and focused on the practice; and also enables the yoga practitioner to remain in poses longer
2. It increases your endurance and improves your meditative state during the practice. At the same time, it helps release tension on our body parts.
3. Proper breathing helps regulate body heating. Breathing is like a massage for the internal organs. In effect, sufficient body heat will enable you to be prepared for the asana poses. At the same time, our internal organs can be cleansed through proper breathing.
4. Ashtanga yoga breathing also helps relieve headache and sinusitis, as well as decrease the occurrence of phlegm, and strengthen our nervous and digestive systems
5. Proper breathing helps us promote peace of mind. It also enables us to be resilient not only when we are not able to achieve a certain yoga pose, but also when faced with various challenges in life.
Are you ready to try Ashtanga yoga breathing? Here it goes.
1. The first step is to sit in a comfortable position, preferably in a seated cross-legged position like Buddha (some people refer to this as “Indian sit”). Make sure you have your yoga or exercise mat to sit on for more comfort.
2. Place your hands on your knees or on your lap. Make sure that you are seated upright and not slouched, and your head not hung down.
3. Try breathing through your nose and as if coming from the back of your throat. Make sure you can hear your own breathing.
Hold your hand in front of you like a mirror. Breathe deeply and exhale with your mouth open, as if you are making a fog on your hand using your breath. Your exhaling should sound like “Haaaaahhhh”.
1. Again, breathe through your nose, taking note of your breathing control and the steadiness of your breathing as well as the “Haaaaahhh” sound while inhaling and exhaling. Basically, you’re doing the same breath as that in Step 2, only that your mouth is closed. If you will notice, you are creating the “Haaaaahhh” sound in your throat.
2. If you hear yourself breathing that way, don’t be conscious. That is actually the “Ujjayi” breath we are talking about!
3. Imagine your deep breathing move up your spine and go through the crown of your head. Feel your belly going up and down while breathing deeply. Your breathing should also feel cool when you inhale, and warm when exhaling.
4. Make sure that your inhaling and exhaling is the same length, say, 5 counts inhale and 5 counts exhale.
Have you tried doing the above steps? If so, how did it feel? It should have made you feel better, calmer, and healthier, to say the least.
Learning Ashtanga yoga breathing is not only for yoga junkies, it’s for everyone, too! After all, everyone deserves some peace of mind and a good overall health – and that can be achieved by starting from the basics.
As mentioned earlier, proper breathing is essential to our lives. For one, singers have to learn to control their breathing so they can reach those high notes, or last through a 2-hour concert performance. Likewise, learning the right way of breathing can also be a big help especially when you are exercising or lifting weights. Constricting your breathing during workouts can result to lack of oxygen, thus making you feel dizzy and unable to continue your routine.
Basically, practicing proper breathing is already a form of exercise. It is not just a primer for an exercise routine, but also a way to calm your senses and improve your mental health. A sound mental health can resonate on our outside appearance. If we are stressed, it shows through our bodies (ex. dark circles under the eyes, hair loss, weight loss or weight gain).
With that being said, we should not only focus on maintaining our physical health or improving our physique, but also what’s inside us (literally). Thus, we should never underestimate the power of Ashtanga yoga breathing, and should be part of our daily habit for a better overall well-being!
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I am a passionate Yoga Instructor. I enjoy helping people to get to know Yoga and practice Yoga. Therefor, I create this website to give more information about Yoga, to let more people know about its benefits and from there have a better health, live a better life.