Pranayama is the term used in Yoga to represent the science of breath control. Yoga practitioners believe that one’s life is not measured in days, but in terms of the number of breaths. With slow, deep and rhythmic patterns of breathing, you can strengthen your respiratory system, soothe your nerves, reduce your cravings, and be able to focus and concentrate better.
The Importance of Breathing
Breath plays a major role in Yoga. Most of us use only about one third of the lungs capacity (the top part of the lungs only) when we breath. When practicing yoga, you need to learn how to breathe correctly.
A full yogic breath should involve the upper lungs (near your collarbones), the middle (near the ribcage) and the bottom. This is also known as abdominal breathing, where you take in the maximum amount of air into your lungs. Only when this is done, then your body would be able to benefit most from the air you breathe in.
Breathing should be done entirely through your nose. Your nostrils are made for breathing – they have nostril hair, which filter any particles, and the mucus lining actually helps to kill germs. The nasal passage also helps to warm up the air and makes it ready to enter the lungs. If you breathe through the mouth, all these benefits are lost.
Breathing for Yoga
Breathing in Yoga is normally coordinated with each step in the poses. In fact, understanding the breathing techniques for each posture that you perform will help you complete the postures more successfully. Each breath consists of the in-breath (inhalation) and out-breath (exhalation).
Inhalation brings the oxygen to your body, and is energizing. This is typically coordinated with an upward movement, like lifting your arms.
Exhalation, on the other hand, releases the tension and helps the downward movements, like lowering your arms of bending into your seated forward bend.