Yoga Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are so simple yet so obvious that we so often take them for granted. We ignore the power breathing has to affect our body, mind and spirit. With each inhalation, we bring oxygen into our body and spark the transformation of nutrients into fuel.
Each exhalation rids the body of carbon dioxide, a toxic waste. Breathing also influences our state of mind.
It can make us calm or excited, relaxed or tense. Breathing can make us confused or clear in our minds. Above all, in the Yogic tradition, air (Prana) is the primary source of energy or life force. It is considered a psycho-physio-spiritual force that permeates the entire universe. Yogic Breathing Exercises are called Pranayama in Sanskrit. They may be done in association with Yogasanas (postures) or just while sitting down quietly.
Here are some of the most common types of yoga breathing exercises and their benefits.
- Skull Shining Breath - Kapalabhati Pranayama
- Alternate Nostril Breathing - Nadi Sodhana Pranayama
- Cooling Breath - Sitali Pranayama
- Ocean Breath - Ujjayi Pranayama
- Three Part Breath - Dirga Pranayama
Pranayama is loosely translated as Pranic (breath) control. The ancient Yogis developed a number of breathing techniques to optimize the benefits of Prana. In Yoga, pranayama is used as a separate practice in itself to help clear and purify the body and mind. It is also used as a preparation for meditation. In asanas, the practice of postures, breathing exercises help optimize the benefits of the practice, and focus your mind.