Breathing – the 2nd Pillar of Yoga

Breathing – It has the same word as Life in the ancient texts, but it is probably the most neglected part of the five. Most people don’t use their breath fully and are not aware of it, leading to bad posture and malfunctioning body and mind. The technics to enhance your respiratory capacity and your health are called Pranayamas and will lift your posture, self-confidence and energy.

breathe stone

Yoga teaches us how to use the lungs to their maximum capacity, and how to control the breath. Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmical, and in general we fill all our lungs. This increases vitality and mental clarity. Most people use only a fraction of their lung capacity for breathing. They breathe shallowly, barely expanding the ribcage. Their shoulders are hunched, they have painful tension in the upper part of the back and neck, and they suffer from lack of oxygen creating an environment for stress. The lungs can be divided in three parts and types of breathing are;

1. Clavicular breathing is the most shallow and worst possible type. The shoulders and collarbone are raised while the abdomen is contracted during inhalation. Maximum effort is made, but a minimum amount of air is obtained.
2. Thoracic breathing is done with the rib muscles only, expanding the rib cage, and is the second type of incomplete breathing.
3. Deep abdominal breathing is the best, for it brings air to the lowest and largest part of the lungs. Breathing is slow, deep and proper use is made of the diaphragm.

Actually, none of these types are complete. A full Yogic breath combines all three, beginning with a deep breath and continuing the inhalation through the intercostal and clavicular areas. Basically you fill your whole lung with air and you are aware of any muscle that might contra work your breathing to relax them. Deep breathing immediately stops stress by signalling to the brain to stop producing stress hormones and start producing feel good hormones. These are healing and rejuvenating.

To get the feel of proper diaphragmatic breathing, wear loose clothing and lie on the back. Place your hand on your upper abdomen, where the diaphragm is located. Breathe in and out slowly. The abdomen should expand outward as you inhale and contract as you exhale. Try to get the feeling of this motion. You can also put your hands on someone´s back ribs and feel how they expand or not.

By far the most important offering of good breathing is Prana, i.e. the subtle energy of the vital breath. Control of the Prana leads to control of the mind and body, it connects the two to become one. Breathing exercises are called Pranayamas, which means to control the Prana. It is a powerful way to reach health. We teach Pranayamas that can be done by anyone anywhere at all retreats. It is a vital part of a healthy balanced life and great way to get rid of disease, stress, abundance of weight, or any other imbalance.

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