Different Stages Of Breathing In Yoga

By Patricia | November 12, 2008
Stages Of Breathing In Yoga

Yoga Breathing is based on the premise that breath is life itself, the most vital function by which we live. Pranayama is, therefore, one of the 5 principles of Yoga. It consists of a set of breathing exercises that help cultivate healthy long-term breathing habits in an individual. Right Breathing, according to Yoga, is the ability to carry more oxygen into the bloodstream and from there, to the brain. The ultimate aim is, of course the control of the vital life force which in Yogic parlance is called Prana. So, Pranayama is, in essence, the art of breathing and breath control. It comprises a set of exercises designed to meet these ends which, subsequently, help keep the body and mind healthy.

Stages of Breathing In Yoga

Puraka (Inhalation)

Puraka is the Sanskrit name for a single inhalation. It is a simple, involuntary technique by which we draw air into our lungs, through our nostrils. This should be a continuous and smooth process. If you pause once or more in the course of a single inhalation, the process is called a broken Puraka and not a series of Purakas.

Abhyantara Kumbhaka (Full Pause after inhalation)

Kumbhaka is the process of deliberately holding one’s breath after inhaling as much air as we can into our lungs. This, however, should be done without moving the lungs, muscles or any part of your body. In the beginning you might try by force to resist breathing and hold your breath. There are rather complex methods and instructions to achieve this.

Rechaka (Exhalation)

Exhalation is the third stage and is called Rechaka. This should also be unbroken and even, just like inhalation. Very often, though, the speed of exhalation may vary from that of inhalation. As a rule, we use muscular energy to inhale while we just have to relax the tensed muscles to exhale of. This relaxation automatically expels the air from our lungs. Then again you may use muscular effort to exhale just as in inhalation. Air can be expelled from the lungs with muscular effort, when standing or sitting, with the help of the abdominal muscles.

Bahya Kumbhaka (Pause after Exhaling) Empty Pause

The pause after exhaling is the fourth stage of breathing, called Kumbhaka, particularly when the termination of breath is intentional or protracted. This empty gap ends the breath cycle that finishes as the suspension ends you start inhaling again.

The breathing cycle that is normally taken for granted as just a single inhalation followed by a single exhalation is thus broken down into 4 different and distinct phases or stages.

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