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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yoga - Improve Your Breathing

By Barbara Tomasik

Yoga is an ancient discipline that encompasses the entire body and mind and the breath is the link between the two. So, to perform correctly the yogic exercises one needs to learn the art of breathing which will lead to complete physical and mental relaxation and balance.

Yoga has been practiced for many centuries to improve the overall health and well-being of a person. With the stress we put our bodies through on a daily basis it is good to know that there is a way out.

To get the most benefits from a yoga practice we need to learn how to breathe correctly using our entire lung capacity and not only a small fraction of our lungs. When you breathe with awareness you become more aware of your physical body and of your state of mind. You will get lots of benefits like:

1) By breathing slowly and deeply you allow more oxygen to get into your body, especially to the brain.
2) It will release tension and stress.
3) The correct breathing will help to reduce wastes and toxins.
4) It will improve digestion.
5) It will improve your concentration.
6) It will help you think in a more positive way.

Apart from a deep abdominal breathing, which is quite easy to learn and relaxing, there are many other types of breathing. Some can be done on your own after learning from a qualified yoga teacher, but some should be always done in a presence of a yoga teacher.

The deep abdominal breathing is best done lying on your back on the yoga mat in a well ventilated room. Keeping your eyes closed observe the natural breath rising and falling for a moment. Then begin to lengthen the inhalation and deepen the exhalation. Start noticing the rhythmic rise and fall of your abdomen and the feeling of complete relaxation.

Alternate nostril breathing without retention can be easily mastered but adding the breath retention should be done under the proper guidance from a yoga teacher. It has some health contraindications so please check it before attempting it.

Kapalabhati is a more vigorous form of breathing helping to energize your body. It is good to learn it from a qualified yoga teacher before trying to perform it on your own.

In some circumstances breathing exercises should not be done:
1) If you are having any breathing problems.
2) Directly after eating food.
3) If you are depressed.

Remember: Breathing exercises can be detrimental to your health if done incorrectly!

Ms Barbara is a Certified Yoga trainer and also a Teacher in Physical Education. She is a member of REPs as Advance Instructor level 3.