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Breathing

Most people use only a fraction of their lung capacity for breathing. They breathe shallowly, barely expanding the ribcage. Their shoulders are hunched, they have painful tension in the upper part of the back and neck, and they suffer from lack of oxygen. They should learn the full Yogic breathing.

Learning The Abdominal Breathing

To get the feel of proper diaphragmatic breathing, wear loose clothing and lie on the back. Place the hand on the upper abdomen, where the diaphragm is located. Breathe in and out slowly. The abdomen should expand outward as you inhale and contract as you exhale. Try to get the feeling of this motion.



Learning The Full Yogic Breathing

Once you feel proficient in the practice of the abdominal breathing you will be ready to learn the Full Yogic Breathing. Breathe in slowly, expand the abdomen, then the ribcage, and finally the upper portion of the lungs. Then, breathe out in the same manner, letting the abdomen cave in as you exhale. This is the Yogic complete breath.

Pranayama

By far the most important thing about good breathing is the Prana, or subtle energy of the vital breath. Control of the Prana leads to control of the mind. Breathing exercises are called Pranayamas, which means to control the Prana.

The Different Types of Breathing
There are three basic types of breathing.

1. Clavicular breathing is the most shallow and worst possible type. The shoulders and collarbone are raised while the abdomen is contracted during inhalation. Maximum effort is made, but a minimum amount of air is obtained.
2. Thoracic breathing is done with the rib muscles expanding the rib cage, and is the second type of incomplete breathing.
3. Deep abdominal breathing is the best, for it brings air to the lowest and largest part of the lungs. Breathing is slow and deep, and proper use is made of the diaphragm.



Actually, none of these types are complete. A full Yogic breath combines all three, beginning with a deep breath and continuing the inhalation through the intercostal and clavicular areas.

Breathing and Prana links

kapalbhati exercise (Skull Shining Breath)

more kapalabhati info

Ujjayi Pranayama Whisper or Ocean Breath

Anuloma Viloma Alternate Nostril breathing

Skull Shining Breath Kapalabhati Pranayama
From Ann Pizer,
Your Guide to Yoga.

Benefits: cleansing, invigorating, warming, prevents illness and allergies

This breath consists of rapid, forced exhales followed by passive inhales. It is best done at the beginning of a yoga session. In Kundalini practice, Kapalabhati breath is sometimes done while holding poses.

1. Come to sit in a comfortable crosslegged position.

2. Take two or three deep inhales and exhales through the nose to prepare.

3. Inhale to a comfortable level, and then exhale sharply and forcefully through the nose, drawing the belly in as you exhale.

4. Let the inhale happen passively, and continue this cycle of forceful exhales and passive inhales at a fast pace, so that the belly is pumping continuously.

5. Do three rounds of thirty breaths each, coming back to deep inhales and exhales between each round.

Anuloma Viloma is also called the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. In this Breathing Technique, you inhale through one nostril, retain the breath, and exhale through the other nostril in a ratio of 2:8:4. The left nostril is the path of the Nadi called Ida and the right nostril is the path of the Nadi called Pingala. If you are really healthy, you will breathe predominantly through the Ida nostril about one hour and fifty minutes, then through the Pingala nostril. But in many people, this natural rhythm is disturbed. Anuloma Viloma restores, equalizes and balances the flow of Prana in the body.

One round of Anuloma Viloma is made up of six steps, as shown below. Start by practicing three rounds and build up slowly to twenty rounds, extending the count within the given ratio.

The Vishnu Mudra

In Anuloma Viloma, you adopt the Vishnu Mudra with your right hand to close your nostrils. Tuck your index and middle finger into your nose. Place the thumb by your right nostril and your ring and little fingers by your left.


Inhale through the left nostril, closing the right with the thumb, to the count of four.

Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of sixteen.

Exhale through the right nostril, closing the left with the ring and little fingers, to the count of eight.

Inhale through the right nostril, keeping the left nostril closed with the ring and little fingers, to the count of four.

Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of sixteen.

Exhale through the left nostril, keeping the right closed with the thumb, to the count of eight.