Do you do Yoga breathing exercises? – Procedure & Benefits Explained!
Yoga breathing exercises are really very effective for almost all age groups. We have brought fo you the best yoga breathing exercises for kids adults and as well as for beginners.
Since the beginning of our discussion on Yoga and its benefits, I have been talking about Yoga breathing exercises and pranayam techniques. In fact, every time I list the exercises, Yoga breathing exercises are always on top.
So, what are these breathing exercises, what is pranayam and how is it important? Let us address these questions today as I bring in here the Yoga breathing exercises that are not only beneficiary but necessary.
We all know that breathing is the fundamental requirement to stay alive but how can simple breathing make you healthier? You may search the internet and can find long lists of Yoga breathing exercises and what should you begin with and what not.
I will definitely also tell you all of that, all kinds of Yoga breathing exercises for beginners, kids and adults, and correct ways to do them and also the tips for better breathing.
But before that we will talk about the function of this breathe or air in our body and how it works upon our health. I am sure knowing this would make you feel more confident in practicing your Yoga breathing exercises because you would know the reason why you are doing it and also the outcome of the particular exercise.
So, let’s move on…
‘Prana’- The Vital Energy
What makes us live? Air. What makes the blood circulate in our body? Air. What makes the disease commute from one organ to other and one person to another? Air.
Air is the vital life-force energy that practically makes everything happen in this universe. Yoga breathing exercises are called Pranayam, it is the mixture of two words, ‘prana’ and ‘ayama’, prana means life and ayama means control or regulation.
So, literally, Yoga breathing exercises are techniques to regulate the inlet and outlet of the air or the life-force energy into your body so that it remains healthy and fit. Interesting! Isn’t it.
Now let us hop on to know more about this life-force energy and how it works in our body.
Yoga Breathing Exercises
The air that we breathe is divided into five parts in accordance with the areas of the body it commutes and functions that it performs.
The five divisions of the vital life-force energy are as follows:
Pran Vayu (Respiratory system)
This is the proto-system of any living body and it refers to the air that functions from the throat to the lungs. Its main job is to look after the proper functioning of voice-box, vocal cords, oesophagus, lungs and heart.
Apaan Vayu (Excretory System)
This system refers to the air that functions from your navel to the anus. This controls the excretions of toxins from your body. The main function of the air here is to help in the elimination of stool, urine, period blood, sperms and fart. This air is also responsible for pushing the baby out from the uterus.
Udaan Vayu (Nervous System)
The air that works upon the area above the throat till the crown is Udaan Vayu. This air practically controls the nervous system of the body. The main function of this air is to regulate the functioning of pituitary and pineal glands. It is also responsible for the proper functioning of eyes, nose and facial tissues. This is the air that gives glow to our face and gives us lively shiny eyes.
Samaan Vayu (Digestive System)
This air controls the activities of the body from below the heart till the stomach. This air is responsible for the proper functioning of liver, intestines, spleen and pancreas. Its duty is to ensure the proper functioning of the digestive system.
Vyaan Vayu (Circulatory System)
This is the air commuting along with the blood in veins and arteries. It is responsible for all the activities in the body. The functioning of muscles, ligaments and blood pressure is controlled by this air.
Apart from these five divisions, there are five other sub-divisions of air named Devdutt, Naag, Krukal, Kurma and Dhananjaya. These are combinedly responsible for sneezing, hiccups, blinking of eyelids, yawning, itching and snoring.
Yoga breathing exercises or Pranayam, is the control or regulation of these five divisions of the life-force energy in our body. Once you know which organ you have to work upon, you are confident in practicing your pranayam and will be able to feel its effect on the particular organ.
What do you understand by Yoga Breathing Exercises?
Yoga breathing exercises are a way to detoxify and cleanse your inner body. Apart from the veins and arteries, our inner body also consist of subtle energy centres called chakras.
Yoga breathing exercises are a way to cleanse those chakras off the blockages with the help of the cosmic life-force energy so that they may function properly resulting in a healthy and a balanced life.
Before we proceed to learn the Yoga breathing exercises of beginners, kids and adults let us understand about the terms used to perform these pranayam.
- Purak: When we inhale the air through nostrils, it is called purak.
- Kumbhak: When we hold our breath, either externally or internally, it is called kumbhak.
- Rechak: When you release the air out of your body through nostrils, it is called rechak.
The combination of these three activities when designed in a systematic manner become Yoga breathing exercises, called Pranayam.
Yoga breathing exercises can be easy start for the ones who want to begin Yoga. The results, however, are deeper than a beginner can think of.
Let’s get back to chakras and the effect pranayam puts on them. The human body is made of five elements, air, water, earth, fire and space. These five elements correspond to the subtle seven chakras in the body.
The brief description of the seven chakras is as follows:
- Muladhara Chakra: This chakra lies at the end of the spinal cord and corresponds to the Apaan Vayu or the excretory system of the body.
- Svadhisthan Chakra: This chakra lies in the lower abdomen and corresponds to Vyaan Vayu or the circulatory system of the body.
- Manipura Chakra: This chakra lies in the abdomen near the stomach and corresponds to Samaan Vayu or the digestive system of the body.
- Vishuddhi Chakra: This chakra lies near the heart of the body and corresponds to the Udaan Vayu or the nervous system.
- Agya Chakra: This is the third-eye chakra located between the eyebrows and is responsible for the overall well-being of the practitioner. This chakra plays a pivotal role in maintaining focus and concentration.
- Sahasrara Chakra: This chakra lies at the crown of the head of the practitioner and comes into picture only when the yoga practitioner reaches the advance level of meditation.
Practicing the yoga breathing exercises help you target these chakras and clear the blockages in them. Cleansing the chakras automatically makes you feel energetic, confident and strong.
Yoga Breathing Exercises Procedure
For beginners, yoga breathing exercises will be the best start. Once you decide that you have to start practicing yoga you begin with basic yoga breathing exercises.
- Sit in a comfortable position on your mat. Sit in cross-legged position (Sukhasana) or lotus pose (Padmasana).
- Choose a mudra that suits you best, and take a deep breathe.
- You can begin with any of the pranayams listed below but the best recommendation is ‘Om’ chanting.
- Chant ‘Om’ for nine times while inhaling and exhaling deeply. This will make your mind still and ready for the exercises.
Types of Yoga Breathing Exercises
Now that you are all set, take a look at the Yoga breathing exercises or pranayam which offer of a plethora of benefits for a lifetime.
It is the easiest and the first yoga breathing exercise. It can be called ‘Om’ chanting also. The technical term is however, Udgeeth Pranayam.
- Sit in a comfortable position, relax yourself.
- Make sure there is no noise or disturbance around you, a serene garden or park is recommended.
- Close your eyes and inhale deeply.
- Chant ‘Om’ while exhaling and extend the sound of humming for a while.
- Repeat this for nine times at a go, you will feel relaxed, peaceful, calm and composed.
This pranayama is generally practiced right after Udgeeth pranayama, it relaxes the mind of a person and help them to increase concentration.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Focus your concentration at your Agya Chakra (Third-eye chakra).
- Take a deep breath and resonate the sound of ‘Om’ in your mind.
- Exhale deeply. Let the buzzing sound remain.
- Repeat this for 10 times.
Anulom-vilom : Alternate breathing Yoga Exercise
- Sit on your mat in a comfortable position.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through your left nostril.
- Now, open your right nostril and exhale.
- While exhaling, slowly close your left nostril with your left thumb.
- Inhale through your right nostril.
- Open the left nostril and exhale.
- Repeat this pranayam for 20 times.
- Sit in cross-legged position (sukhasana) or the lotus position (padmasana) on your mat.
- Place your hands on your lap one over the other with palms facing upwards.
- Keep your palms open.
- Close your eyes and inhale deeply.
- Let the air fill in your stomach.
- Now, exhale in bits creating a pressure on your stomach.
- Do it for ten times in one breathe.
- Repeat the set for 3 times.
Bhramari Pranayam (Bee-humming)
- Sit cross-legged (sukhasana) on your mat.
- Close your eyes and place your fingers as suggested below:
- Place the index finger on each eyebrow.
- Place the middle finger on the eyelids.
- Place the ring fingers on each nostril.
- Cover your ears with your thumbs.
- Now, take a deep breath and close both the nostrils with your ring fingers.
- Hold your breath and make a humming sound.
- Let the sound resonate in your ears and head.
- Slowly open your right nostril and exhale.
- Do not stop the hum. Let it die naturally.
- Repeat the same with left nostril.
- Perform this pranayam for 7 times.
Bhastrika (Bellow breathing)
- Sit on the mat in a comfortable position.
- Initially, keep your breathing normal.
- Focus on your breaths and feel yourself inhaling.
- Feel the oxygen passing through your windpipe to your stomach.
- Exhale, feel the negativity thrown out of your body with the carbon-di-oxide.
- Focus on how the blood carries oxygen to each and every part of your body.
- Take time to observe your inner-self.
- Take time to inhale as well as exhale.
- Repeat this pranayam for 9 times.
This pranayam is practiced to cure acidity and other gastric problems. It involves kumbhak that means holding the breath, the air is exhaled and held for a while in this pranayam.
- Sit in a comfortable position, preferably padmasana.
- Take a deep breath and exhale completely. Squeeze your stomach as much as possible.
- In this pranayam you have to practice holding of breath.
- Try holding your breath like this for at least 10 seconds. Repeat the pranayam for five times.
- This pranayam is helpful for people who suffers from digestive disorders and gastric issues. It strengthens your bowels and kidneys for better functioning of the excretory system of the body.
- This pranayam improves strength to hold back, endurance and improves immunity.
Yoga Breathing Exercises for Kids
Kids and children can begin their yoga breathing exercises or pranayam from the age of 3 years. Parents should teach them basic exercises and pranayama techniques as soon as they turn 3 years old.
According to Swami Ramdev, a renowned Yoga guru, children in the age group of 5 years to 10 years should practice the yoga breathing exercises as mentioned below:
- Bhastrika Pranayama for one minute daily.
- Kapalbhati Pranayama for five times.
- Bahya Pranayama for 3 times.
- Anulom-Vilom Pranayam for five minutes.
- Bhramari Pranayama for three minutes to five minutes.
- Udgeetha Pranayama for three to five minutes.
- Pranava Pranayama for one to two minutes.
Practicing these pranayamas will make them stronger, sharper, more intelligent, smart, energetic, brave and disciplined. Practicing Yoga breathing exercises will increase their self-confidence also.
Yoga breathing exercises also helps them boost their focus and concentration. This will lead to an enhanced IQ and efficient eyesight.
Problems of anger, violence, crime and disobedience won’t persist in children, they would become more considerate, patient, accepting, sensible and sensitive.
Children from 10 years to 18 years of age should practice the below Yoga breathing exercises for their better health:
- Bhastrika Pranayama for 2 minutes.
- Kapalbhati for 10 minutes.
- Anulom-Vilom for 10 minutes.
- Bahya Pranayama for five times.
- Bhramari Pranayama for five times.
- Udgeetha Pranayam for five times.
- Pranava Pranayama for two to three times.
Yoga Breathing Exercises Postures and Poses
Poses and postures during yoga breathing exercises is very important because the way you sit or stand will determine the inlet and outlet of air in your body.
Incorrect body posture may result in improper breathing or choking. If you are sitting on a mat, you may follow these three, yoga breathing exercise postures and poses as per your convenience.
- Sukhasana: This is the basic cross-legged position that all of us are comfortable with. You can begin your practice with this position and later on go for padmasana.
This posture is good for people who have a stiff or obese body and cannot sit in padmasana for long.
- Padmasana: This is the lotus pose and the practitioner is supposed to put right feet on the left thigh and left feet on the right thigh.
Initially that may not be possible so the practitioner can sit in adhra-padmasana, it means half lotus pose. Gradually when you practice this posture daily, your body will become toned and you will be able to sit in padmasana comfortably.
- Vajrasana: This is the posture generally recommended to follow after you have had a meal. This is the only yoga pose allowed after having a meal.
Sitting in vajrasana, a person is on his knees and hips resting on the calves. Keep on foot thumb over the other and arms resting on your thighs.
Clothes for Yoga Breathing Exercises
There are no particular preferences about any special clothes for practising Yoga breathing exercises but you should make sure that you are not wearing tight fitting clothes that makes you uncomfortable while you breathe deeply.
Yoga should be done wearing soft cotton clothes that are neither too tight nor to lose. You should feel comfortable in your clothes and there should be enough room for you to breathe in and out properly.
Best Place for doing Yoga Breathing Exercises
The place for doing Yoga breathing exercises is obviously an open space where there is a lot of air.
The ideal place to perform Yoga breathing exercises is an open place or a garden with immense greenery. Sitting under a tree or surrounded by a tree helps in more oxygen intake and makes you more comfortable and relaxed.
Connecting with the nature makes you more grounded and you feel free. Practising breathing exercises in an open atmosphere increases the benefits of Yoga breathing exercises manifolds.
So, ideally try practising Yoga breathing exercises in a garden, park or terrace surrounded with plants and trees.
Practising Yoga breathing exercises in a garden also gives you the liberty to be exposed to sunlight. Practising yoga in the morning sun works wonders on your body, soul and mind.
Morning sunrays are known to recharge your mind and is a great source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is extremely beneficial for people suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis and other bone-related issues.
However, if you are not able to perform the Yoga breathing exercises in an open space, make sure you do it in a naturally-lighted room. Yoga breathing exercises should be ideally done in the day time so make sure that there are windows in the room that allow fresh air and sunlight.
Face in the direction of light and perform your Yoga breathing exercises. For beginners, the ideal time is morning time and ideal place is the open space.
Do not perform the pranayamas or Yoga breathing exercises in a closed or a suffocated room.
Best Time for doing Yoga breathing exercises
The best part of Yoga breathing exercises is that every time is the best time to practice pranayama, or breathing techniques in Yoga.
Ideally, as always said, Yoga breathing exercises should be done in the morning. Morning is the most recommended time for practising Yoga breathing exercises because in the morning your mind is comparatively less cluttered and your mind is fresh.
If you do your Yoga breathing exercises in the morning, you get charged up for the entire day. When you practice right breathing right at the start of the day, you breathe right all through the day.
However, if you want to practice Yoga breathing exercises at any time of the day you are welcome to do that. Whenever you feel exhausted and tired mentally, these exercises may come handy to you.
Try practising Anulom-Vilom when you are stressed out and see the magic. Bhramari Pranayama is useful when you are suffering from headache. Nadi shodhan works wonders in sinus and cold.
So, you may practice the Yoga breathing exercises at any time of the day be it morning, afternoon and evening.
Yoga Breathing Exercises Tips
Now that you are all set to begin your Yoga breathing exercises, lastly, I would like to give you some useful and essential tips that will help you improve your practice of Yoga breathing exercises. Please take a look:
- Focus and maintaining your concentration is must for meditation. When sitting for beginning your breathing exercise in Yoga, you should aim at being thoughtless.
- Clear your mind of any thought that is disturbing you. It can be difficult initially. For achieving this, you can follow these tips:
- While taking in each breathe, let a thought pass through you. Just relax and do not make effort to make any thought stay or leave.
- Just be still and let your mind rest. Leave your work, responsibilities and duties aside. Be calm.
- Surrender yourself to whichever higher power you have your faith in. Just ask the cosmic energy to give your strength to concentrate on achieving the state of thoughtlessness.
- You may be worried about practicing Yama and Niyama before mastering the art of meditation but you don’t need to put efforts for that. The moment you start adapting Yoga breathing exercises, you will automatically experience a change in your lifestyle.
- Surround yourself with affirmations, keep reminding yourself about the positive things around you.
- Practice gratitude and acceptance with each breath you take during the practice of Yoga breathing exercises.
Following all of this and practicing Yoga breathing exercises will definitely bring a wonderful transformation in your life and you will feel immense inner strength, calmness and peace of mind.
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