breathing techniques why are they essential to yoga

Breathing Techniques - Why are they essential to yoga?

Posted On : 12 April 2017.

Posted By : Yogi Mahesh Chetan.

Yoga is not all about flexibility, strength and focus. Without proper breathing and attention to the breath, it won't be much different from aerobics. Breathing is one of the most important aspects of yoga. Often times in modern yoga practices it is not emphasized enough. The power of the breath is an immense benefit that shouldn't go unnoticed.

The breathing techniques used in yoga stem from pranayama practices. Pranyama means holding the breath. There are some major pranayama techniques that every yogi should practice and be aware of. The benefits of these pranayamas go beyond physical strength and focus. They can help provide much needed stress relief, calm down the mind, reduce anxiety and give clarity when you are over taken by emotion.

Let's look at some popular breathing techniques used in yoga and when they should be utilized:

Kapalabhati

kapalbhati

If you practice kapalabhati, always follow it up with a longer breathing technique after it. Kapalabhati uses a lot of energy. It’s also a cleansing breath. So it is not a practice that should be practiced everyday. It is advisable to get proper guidance from an instructor before going deep into this type of breathing practice.

Nadi sodhan (anulom vilom)

Anulom-Vilom

This can be practiced by anyone and is known to be good for all diseases (without retention). However, if you have a cold, it’s better not to practice this technique. If you practice this for 5 minutes, it works on your external energy. If you practice it 5-10, it will start to work on your internal energy. If done for 15 minutes, it will work on systems. 15-20 minutes will have an effect on organs. 20-25 will work on tissues. More than 25 minutes of this technique will affect each and every cell on your body.

Ujjayi

ujjayi-pranayama

This is also known as: Sea sound breath and sleeping child breath. It’s good for the thyroid glands. It’s also good for most diseases, except for ear infections and throat cancer. It’s good or hyper thyroid issues. It’s also good for immunity. The thyroid gland stimulates our metabolism. Furthermore, it’s also thought to be good for constipation, asthma, diabetes (lack of fire). It’s very good after 40 years of age because at this age, there’s a lack of calcium in the body. The thyroid gland controls the calcium, so stimulating the thyroid gland can be very beneficial for those who are over the age of 40.

Bharastrika

bharastrika

This is a very forceful breathing. There should be an audible sound coming out as you exhale from both nostrils. When you inhale, the belly should come out and during exhalation, the belly should go in. This technique should not be practiced for more than 20 breaths if you have respiratory issues.

Surya Bhedi

surya bhedhi

Known as the sun piercing pranayama, here the inhalation is done through the right nostril and the exhalation is done through the left nostril. This too is an active pranayama. It’s thought to be good for constipation related issues.

Chandra Bhedi

chandra-bhedi

Known as the moon piercing breath, here the inhalation is done through the left nostril and the exhalation is done through the right.. It’s good for having too much fire in the body and for hypertension since it’s thought to be a cooling breath.

These are only a handful of the many breathing techniques used in yoga. If you are interested in learning more about yoga, AYM offers drop-in classes and monthly yoga retreats. It is located in upper Tapovan, overlooking the holy Ganga.