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Yoga Breathing for Better Health

By HERWriter
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One of the Five Principles of Yoga is Pranayama or Breathing which promotes proper breathing. The Yogis realized the importance of an adequate oxygen supply thousands of years ago to promote more oxygen to the brain and prevent disease. It is imperative that you learn how breathe before beginning your Yoga practice.

In a world where women are pulled in so many directions, it is even more important to take the time to get in touch with your body. According to Syd Hoffman, Owner of Joyful Yoga in Chandler, Arizona (www.joyfulyogastudio.com), “Yoga provides a safe time for women to forget their ‘to do’ list & just be in the present moment, listening to their breath and feeling each muscle smile as it is being stretched. Taking care of others does not exist at this time!”

Hoffman says, no matter what stage of life we are in, the result of practicing Yoga, in particularly its’ foundation of Pranayama or Breathing, is a reduction of “life symptoms”. “Yoga is one of the best drug-free, healthy ways to get rid of all our hormonal discomfort due to the awkward hormonal imbalance of being a woman such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause,” says Hoffman.

The following breathing exercise can help you establish the foundation of Yoga Practice:
You will learn how to take a full breath and cycle that breath through properly to form a basis for your Yoga practice. Your goal is to develop full use of your lungs and establish a mind/body connection as you get in touch with the rhythm of your breathing. Start by lying on your back, with your knees bent. Place your left hand on your abdomen and your right hand on your chest, becoming aware of how your hands move in and out with each breath. Next, practice filling your lower lungs by breathing so that your left hand goes up when you inhale and your right hand remains still. Always inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat this ten times. Now, we will continue to inhale deeper as you not only fill your lower lungs but continue inhaling into your upper chest. As you do so, your right hand will rise and your left hand will fall a little as your abdomen falls.

Add a Comment5 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

very good

February 28, 2010 - 2:46pm

Interesting, as I had also learned recently that it is best to start at the abdomen and work your way up with the breath. It is really not the abdomen, of course, but to visualize the diaphram exanding, as you want to feel the sensation of "filling up" the lungs deeper and lower in the body, then end with the chest.

A few reasons for this: it feels awkward as adults, but watch kids breathe! They are not concerned with their bellies sticking out, as adults are, and their abdomens move in and out with their breath. As mentioned above by Andre, breathing in your chest (more of a shallow breath) leads you to hunch your shoulders, and thus creates more muscle tension and stress.

Singers also use deep breathing that is not shallow...and does not start in their chest..but rather is deeper and thought of as "breathing from your abdomen".

January 31, 2010 - 9:00am
EmpowHER Guest

I am a certified Yoga Teacher with the KHYF and I like this article but one correction is that a complete breath starts in the upper chest and then moves to the abdomen. It does not make sense to fill from the bottom of the lungs as the air comes in from the top so fill from the top down as you would fill a container with gas. This breath also complements poses, filling the chest first in a back arch is completely in tune with the movement, extending the abdomen allows the back to arch near the completion of the pose. Conversely the abdomen should be released first on exhale as this also complements poses on exhale such as a forward bend.

November 16, 2009 - 9:24am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I do not agree with the comment saying that you have to breath from chest first. Stressed up people breath from their chest and relaxed people breath from their abdomen. So, to my opinion this article is right that it is best to start breathing from the abdomen first and then expand towards the chest. Try for yourself to find out which one feels more natural and relaxed. For the back bends you are right that it will be very natural to expand the chest when going into this pose.


January 31, 2010 - 8:47am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

andre you are correct!

February 23, 2010 - 6:28pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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