How to Take Control of Your Breath on and Off the Mat

3 min read

Most of us breathe unconsciously and inefficiently before we start yoga. It is important to master breathing early, as it is vital to our health.

These five tips can also be used to breathe in a prone or upright position. The most important thing is to apply this breath in your asana.

First, focus on your breath alone. Then, incorporate it into your practice.

The Nose

Breathe using your nose and not your mouth. The nose is used for breathing, while the mouth is used for eating.

By breathing through the nose, we can regulate the temperature, humidity, and speed of air entering our lungs. This makes our breathing easier and more efficient. Simple but super effective.

Simple: Breathe through your nose.

Breath Direction

Inhale down and exhale up.

Feel the breath move down to the belly button as you inhale. Trace a line by moving the breath in and out of all directions. Feel the breath move inwards towards your spine and then upwards towards your throat as you exhale.

Simple: Exhale up, inhale down.

Release Tension With the Inhale

Breathe in and out. Allow the breath’s expansive quality to expand your abdomen all around. The deep breath helps to align the spine and allows you to stand tall without activating the abdomen.

Simple: inhale to release tension in your body from your belly in all directions.

Strength with Exhale

Your exhale will give you strength and contraction after your inhale has expanded. Feel a gentle upward squeeze from your pelvic, up through your lower abdomen and belly, and all the way to your throat. Then, let the breath out through your nose. As you follow that line, create strength from your roots to your throat.

Simple: Exhale is strength, and it lifts your energy upwards and inwards.

Slowing Breathing with the Throat

Slow your breath by gently squeezing the back of your throat while focusing on the exhale. It can sound like air being pushed through a valve. This is the exact idea. These “bottles” contain the breath from the place where you started the breath.

Simple: Slow down your breath by constricting the back of your throat.

Put it Together

As you inhale, feel the breath move down and out of your belly. This will create space all around.

Exhaling, lift the breath towards your throat by squeezing the lower abdomen and pelvic floor.

Now What?

Once you have mastered the technique, it is easy to incorporate it into your physical practice. Keep all of your movements strong on your exhale, and use your inhale both to fill the pose and to create space.

Don’t forget to practice with kindness and compassion. Good luck! Re-programming your breath can be challenging, but it is well worth the effort.

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