Yogic breathing is known as Pranayama in Sanskrit. Pran stands for breath or the vital energy required for the body. Ayama stands for control.
When we put them together it gives us controlling breath In other words, it is the breath which is the force of life and by controlling it we can achieve a healthy mind and body.
While Pranayama is just one of the eight aspects of yoga, there five types of breathing, which are each responsible for different types of activity in your body. These are Prana, Apana, Vyan, Udana and Samana.
Of these most important are Prana and Apana. Prana is the upward flowing wind (breath) and Apana is the downward flowing wind. Practicing the different types of yogic breathing helps in not only achieving healthy body, but also healthy mind.
All these types of breathing techniques stimulate para sympathetic nervous system and promote wellbeing.
A Few of the Different Types of Breathing Techniques in Yoga
When you are doing the breathing exercises in yoga it is important to be sitting in the right position and comfortable. The best position for deep breathing exercises is to sit in the cross-legged pose. If you have problems with your knees, try sitting on a chair with your legs hanging down.
Take care with the placement of your hands. Make sure they’re relaxed and comfortable and sitting on your knees with your palms facing upwards.
Most importantly, close down the eyes to help focus on each breath.
Ujjayi (pronounced ooo jai yay) is done with a pose (asana) in Yinyasa yoga to link the breath to movement. When done properly, Ujjayi (translated as ‘victorious’) breathing should be both energizing and relaxing.
In the yoga sutra, Patanjali suggests that the breath should be both dirga (long) and suksma (smooth). The sound of Ujjayi is created by gently constricting the opening of the throat (the glottis muscles) to create some resistance to the passage of air.
You can read more about Ujjayi breath in our blog Breath In Yoga.
This breathing technique should be practiced before any of the other techniques.
Sit cross legged with your hands rested comfortably. Breathe through your nostrils deep into your abdomen, feeling the movement and sensation in each nostril of the air moving in. Slowly exhale until the air in your stomach is gone, being sure to feel the sensation of the air leaving your nostrils. Repeat this 15-20 times.
This yogic breathing technique is known as Alternate Nostril Breathing. It helps to cleanse and strengthen your respiratory system and helps you balance both sides of your brain, in turn relaxing your mind.
To do this breathing exercise, place your right thumb on your right nostril and extend your other finger on this hand out straight. Placing your thumb on your right nostril closes it down. Now….breathe through your left nostril…..5 deep breaths slowly, in and out.
Repeat this on the left side.
At Ebb & Flow we focus on deep belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing and ujjayi in our practice. Yogic breathing will really have an effect on your wellbeing, positivity and sense of calm. Find some time and space in every day to practice yogic breathing