Yoga is an Indian traditional system of personal healthcare practices. Yoga is the ability to direct all the faculties of the mind towards one object and sustain that focus without distraction.
Before one begins the practice of Yoga, it is absolutely essential that the person learns to regulate his/her breath. This is important because, without the practice of breath regulation, a person tends to hold the breath while performing an asana (a body posture). By breathing improperly, one will not be benefited by the practice of Yoga. On the contrary, wrong-breathing practices will result in breathlessness and tiredness that will reveal as various forms of ailments.
In this feature, we will introduce you to the importance of breathing correctly for both physical and mental well-being.
Proper breathing practiced during asana will help a person stay fit, feel youthful and energetic.
The process of inhalation has to be understood before one can apply it. Inhale filling the chest downwards towards the abdomen. Similarly, on exhalation, tuck the abdomen inside first, proceeding towards the chest. Regular practice will give the desired awareness to follow this practice. It is important to remember that all breathing practices should be smooth and not straining .
Tip: A complete and smooth long exhalation will result in a smooth long inhalation. Exhalation should always be equal to or more than inhalation.
Breathing practice is helpful in all asana (body postures) and particularly plays a very important role in the practice of Pranayama, Mudras and Bandhas (special postures and neuromuscular locks). While performing even simple breathing exercises, it is essential to be aware of your posture and breathing.
We will use Tadasana to illustrate how to breathe with asana. Tadasana, known in English as the Palm tree posture, is an asana that helps strengthen the ankles, shoulders and opens the air sacs of the lungs.
To start with, stand with your feet together as shown in the figure, hands hanging loosely by the side of your body. Keep your eyes open and fix your gaze on a point, on the wall ahead.
While inhaling, raise your hands up simultaneously lifting the heels off the ground, as shown in the figure. Make sure you are resting on the balls of the feet and not on the toes. Resting on the toes will result in discomfort and imbalance.
While exhaling, slowly lower the heels to the ground simultaneously bringing down the hands. Time your Inhalation and exhalation at 3 seconds each.