Learning how to breathe while doing yoga is so simple you may think that it is a minor aspect of your yoga practice. But proper breathing in yoga is crucially important to a positive yoga experience. The reason is simple. Your muscles need oxygen to perform properly. If you breathe unevenly or shallowly, lactic acid accumulates in your muscles. This will cause you to tire very quickly while exercising and may lead to a burning sensation in your muscles. To avoid lactate buildup, experts recommend that you breathe evenly, allowing your respiration to increase naturally–as it will do automatically–with the increased intensity of exercise. Learning how to breathe while doing yoga will teach you to control your rate of respiration which will enhance your muscular performance and the results of your yoga practice.
Yoga practitioners pay strict attention to the practice of pranyama in conjunction with their yoga practice. Although most Westerners equate pranyama with the breath, to a yogi, pranyama is a living, breathing term. Indeed, they consider pranyama to be its own entity, one that exists apart from the body. As such, it should be treated with honor and respect.
- Begin your yoga practice with five or six slow, deep breaths. Be sure to breathe from your stomach rather than from your chest.
- As you in inhale, let your breathe expand your stomach like a balloon. As you exhale, retract your abdominal muscles to push the breath out of your lungs. (Your stomach should deflate like a balloon).
- As you prepare to move into your yoga stretches or postures (asanas), inhale deeply, but not too deeply. Keep it natural. You should also inhale for each movement upward or for each movement that requires chest expansion.
- As you move into your stretches or asanas, exhale. You should also exhale when you bend down or move deeper into a stretch or posture.
- In between these designated inhaling and exhaling periods, breathe evenly. Always breathe while doing yoga. Never hold your breath.
That’s all there is to it. Learning how to breathe while doing yoga is a simple as…well…breathing–and a whole lot more fun!