Breathing and yoga

Breathing and yoga
Belief in the benefits of controlled breathing goes back centuries.

Central to ancient Hindu philosophy was prana, described as vital “airs” or “energies” flowing through the body. Stemming from that belief, yoga was built on pranayama or breath retention. 

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Breathing exercises

Breathing is at the core of ancient (and currently trendy) mindfulness practices, from yoga and tai chi to meditation.

However, studies suggest that breathing exercises alone, derived from those ancient yoga practices, can be good for the body and mind. 

Deep, controlled breathing

It involves filling the lungs to the max and goes by various names like belly or diaphragmatic breathing.

It has been linked to improved cognitive performance, lower stress levels, and lower blood pressure.

Breathing in meditations
In the first half of the 20th century, deep breathing began to emerge on its own as a relaxation method.

Every relaxation, calming, or meditation technique relies on breathing, which may be the lowest common denominator in all the approaches to calming the body and mind.

Controlling your breathing
Breathing is the only autonomic system we can wrest control of.

Controlled breathing techniques can get one autonomic system under control and in turn affect others (like the heartbeat), alleviate momentary anxiety and longer-term emotional stress, and perhaps even improve physical and cognitive health outcomes.

Belly breathing

Normal human breathing at rest should raise the belly, not the chest.

To relax during a particularly stressful moment, take three slow, deep belly breaths to interrupt the fight-or-flight response.

The belly breath of pranayama
  • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. 
  • Breathe in through your nose and fill your lungs from the bottom up, first expanding your belly, then your chest, and finally raising the collar bones. 
  • Pause. 
  • Then gently exhale from top to bottom, using your stomach muscles to push out the last of the air. 
  • Pause. Then repeat.

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Progressive Relaxation

How it’s done: To nix tension from head to toe, close the eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group for 2 to 3 seconds each. Start with the feet and toes, then move up to the knees, thighs, rear, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw and eyes — all while maintaining deep, slow breaths.

Dizziness is never the goal. If holding the breath ever feels uncomfortable, tone it down to just a few seconds at most.

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IDEAS

  1. Sit up tall, and relax your shoulders. 
  2. Keep your mouth closed and inhale rapidly through your nose with quick, short breaths (exhale quickly as well). 
  3. Try doing that for about 10 seconds
  4. Take a 15-30 second break and breathe normally. Repeat several times.
Pranayama

Pranayama is about breathing science and having control over breathing brings many physical & mental benefits. Controlled breathing by pranayama techniques lets you hold the horses of your mind, you keep calm, become able to think wisely, and make the correct decisions. It eventually makes you stress-free and happy.

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