Yoga poses (asana) were designed to strengthen and heal the body and in turn make it so one could sit comfortably, for hours on end, in deep meditation. The poses were also created as a challenge for the mind. When the mind is focused on overcoming an obstacle it can not be filled with riotous thoughts.
Many illnesses start in the mind and are born from dis-empowering emotions and thoughts. Stress, anger and fear weaken the body and, if left unchecked, can lead to disease (dis-ease).
The good news is the mind also has the power to heal those ailments, sometimes in an instant. We’ve seen evidence of this in the placebo effect.
We all know the mind is capable of creating havoc with the emotions. We can speed up the heart just by envisaging a scary scenario, or make ourselves angry by imagining an injustice against us. The more creative the mind the more possibilities
Control the Breath Control the Mind
Within yoga we are taught to control the breath, either through timing one’s movement with the breath or via regulation of our breathing patterns though certain techniques and exercises (pranayama). It is through breath control we learn to control the mind.
Benefits of Yogic Breathing:
- Increased energy
- Better health
- Happiness on tap
- Clearer thinking and concentration
- Improved problem solving
- Reduced stress-related illness and anxiety
- Reduction in addictions and addictive behaviour
- Improved sleep
I have practised yoga for nearly 20 years and it is only in recent years that I have made a conscious effort to include specific breathing techniques. I can attest to how powerful they are and how they can change your yoga practice and your life by including them.
Amazing Yoga Breathing Techniques:
Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing)
This technique takes moments to perform. It quietens the mind and blisses you out. It is great to do before bedtime especially if you’ve got a wired, monkey mind or it can be used in situations where nerves are a problem: before an exam or interview. It also balances the masculine and feminine energies within the body.
Kapalbhati (bellows breath)
This is an all round brilliant, breathing technique! It stills the mind and works and strengthens the core stomach muscles. Kapalbhati is known as the yogic coffee and is beneficial to do in the morning (to be done on an empty stomach), or when one needs a quick energy boost. It is fabulous if you are feeling a lot of emotion around the solar plexus area (mid-stomach), which it quickly eliminates. After performing bellows breath you are left with a quiet, yet energised, mind.
Ujayi (victorious breath)
This is commonly used within yogic asana practise to create heat within the body, keep the mind focused and help eliminate toxins. It also quietens the mind.
Dynamic Asana Practice
This is yoga asana practice where, instead of holding poses static for a certain length of time, you move in and out of them on the inhalation and exhalation. Again, brilliant for quieting the mind but also great for alleviating tension, creating strength and flexibility. (I have not attached a link to this as it’s probably best to first practise under a qualified instructor).
All yogic breathing systems should be approached gradually. When first attempted they can make you dizzy or even anxious. However, these will quickly pass so don’t be put off.
© Diane Brown