How to Breathe in YogaApril 11, 2022
Breath is key to a yoga practice. It’s a bridge between the physical and mental body and is what differentiates yoga from other forms of exercise. And while a focus on the breath may be difficult to grasp as a beginner yogi, as you become a more seasoned yogi this breath body connection truly is your Yoga practice. A common question I receive is, how exactly should you be breathing during a yoga class?
First and foremost, there is nothing more important than maintaining a steady breath throughout a yoga class. If you notice the pace of the breath picking up, slow down for a few poses and come back to the steady rhythm of the inhale and the exhale. You don’t want to push yourself too hard and the breath is a great indicator of where you are, so pay attention to it! Steady breathing brings a rhythm and consistency to your practice, calming your nervous system. For me, yoga is not about an athletic workout or a heart pumping session- I have cardio exercises for that. It’s about regulating, calming and connecting the body and mind together through a steady cultivation of breath and movement. Always breath in through the nose and out through the nose or mouth. Remember, the breath is just as important as the movement.
For more intermediate practitioners, try taking steady breath to the next level through Ujjayi breathing. This breath technique requires an inhale through the nose and an exhale just like you are fogging a mirror, but with the mouth closed. You can practice by placing hand in front of your face, palm facing you. Notice what it feels like in your throat when you exhale; you should feel a slight vibration in the back of your throat. Next, try to incorporate this into your practice and see how it changes your experience, improves focus and further calms the nervous system.
Remember that the physical practice of yoga is only one of the eight limbs of yoga, with many of the rest focused on breath techniques and meditation. Breath is key to a true yoga practice, so think about it through your next class.
Happy breathing !