If you want to transform the way you breathe in yoga, try these 8 techniques

There’s a world of difference between just breathing and truly harnessing your breath during yoga.

Breathing is as natural as walking, but in yoga, it’s about choosing to take control and transform the way your breath moves with your body.

Trying to master the art of yogic breathing or pranayama without guidance can feel like a shot in the dark.

But, don’t fret.

I’ve got you covered.

I’m here to share eight techniques that will revolutionize your yoga practice, making every inhale and exhale a conscious, enriching experience.

1) Embrace diaphragmatic breathing

Let’s face it, many of us don’t give our breath the attention it deserves.

Especially during yoga, where your breath should lead your movements, not the other way around.

Enter diaphragmatic breathing, a technique that yoga practitioners swear by.

It revolves around the concept of filling your lungs to their maximum capacity, allowing more oxygen to flow into your body.

When you breathe shallowly (commonly known as chest breathing), you’re not making full use of your lung’s capacity.

But with diaphragmatic breathing, you engage the diaphragm and expand your lungs, filling them with a greater amount of air.

It’s like upgrading from a small cup to a large one – you can hold more!

And in yoga, more breath equals more life.

By consciously shifting to diaphragmatic breathing, you’ll not only deepen your practice but also feel more relaxed and centered throughout the day.

2) The magic of Ujjayi breath

I remember when I first discovered Ujjayi breathing, and it was a game changer for me.

This technique, also known as the “victorious breath” or “ocean breath,” is a staple in many yoga practices.

It’s a diaphragmatic breath, which first fills the lower belly, rises to the lower rib cage, and finally moves into the upper chest and throat.

Using this technique helped me to focus on my practice and stay present.

It was during an intense Vinyasa class when I was struggling to keep up with the pace.

My mind was scattered, and my breath was all over the place.

That’s when my instructor reminded us of the Ujjayi breath.

I focused on inhaling and exhaling through my nose, with a slight constriction in the back of my throat, creating a soothing oceanic sound.

The transformation was instant. I felt more present, more in control.

Each asana flowed into the next with grace and ease.

Now, whenever I step onto the mat, Ujjayi breath is my go-to technique.

It helps me connect deeply with each movement and keeps my mind calm and centered.

3) Harnessing the power of alternate nostril breathing

Alternate nostril breathing, or Nadi Shodhana in Sanskrit, is a powerful yogic breathing technique.

This practice is all about balance, as it involves breathing alternately through the left and right nostrils.

What makes alternate nostril breathing special is its ability to harmonize the two hemispheres of our brain.

The left nostril is associated with the right hemisphere of the brain, responsible for creativity and imagination.

Meanwhile, the right nostril is linked to the left hemisphere known for logic and analytical thinking.

By practicing alternate nostril breathing, we stimulate and balance both sides of our brain.

This can lead to improved focus and a profound sense of calm.

4) The calming effect of deep belly breathing

If you’re looking to slow down your mind and tap into a sense of inner peace, deep belly breathing is a technique you’ll want to explore.

The process is simple but effective.

You inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to expand fully.

Then, you exhale slowly, drawing your belly inward.

The focus is on making each breath deeper and slower than the one before.

The beauty of deep belly breathing is that it activates the body’s relaxation response.

This slows your heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Try using this technique at the beginning of your practice to set a calm and centered tone.

Or use it at the end during Savasana for a deeper relaxation.

5) Experience tranquility with the humming bee breath

There’s a beautiful technique in yoga called the Humming Bee Breath, or Bhramari Pranayama.

It’s named after the Indian black bee, Bhramari, because of the humming sound produced while practicing this technique.

It’s simple to do.

You close your eyes, plug your ears with your fingers, take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, you make a humming sound.

This might sound strange, but the vibrations from the humming can have a calming effect on your mind.

Practicing the Humming Bee Breath can be a great way to end your yoga session.

It brings your focus inwards and calms your mind, preparing you for meditation or a peaceful Savasana.

6) Finding peace with the 4-7-8 breathing technique

Life can be chaotic.

It’s full of ups and downs, twists and turns.

And sometimes, amidst the noise and haste, we forget to breathe – I mean, really breathe.

That’s where the 4-7-8 breathing technique comes in.

It’s a simple yet powerful tool that can help us find calm in the storm.

Here’s how it works.

You inhale through your nose to a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, then exhale through your mouth for a count of 8.

This cycle is then repeated a few times.

What I love about this technique is its simplicity.

You can do it anywhere, anytime – whether you’re on your yoga mat or stuck in traffic.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique has been a lifesaver for me during tough times.

It helps to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and bring a sense of peace and tranquility.

7) The transformative power of Sama Vritti

When I was navigating a particularly stressful period in my life, I found a technique that became a constant companion: Sama Vritti, or Equal Breathing.

The practice is as straightforward as it sounds. You inhale for a count of four, then exhale for the same count.

The aim is to balance your inhalation and exhalation, creating a steady rhythm that grounds and soothes the mind.

During those challenging times, this simple yet profound technique helped me find my center.

It was like an anchor amidst the storm, steadying me when everything else seemed to be spinning out of control.

Sama Vritti is more than just a breathing technique.

It’s a reminder that no matter how turbulent life can get, we always have the power to find our balance and return to our own steady rhythm.

8) Embracing stillness with breath retention

The last technique on our list is breath retention or Kumbhaka.

This practice involves pausing and holding your breath for a brief moment after inhalation or exhalation.

Breath retention might seem counterintuitive at first.

After all, yoga is all about the flow of breath, right? But in reality, the pauses between breaths can be just as powerful.

Holding your breath allows you to tap into a deeper sense of stillness and calm.

It’s like pressing the pause button on life’s chaos and giving yourself a moment to just be.

You can practice breath retention during any part of your yoga practice.

Just make sure you’re comfortable and relaxed, and never force yourself to hold your breath longer than feels natural.

The power lies in your practice

Here’s the most important thing you should know about transforming the way you breathe in yoga: it’s all about the practice.

Each breath you take is an opportunity to deepen your connection to yourself and your yoga practice.

And each technique you try brings you one step closer to truly mastering your breath.

So explore these techniques, play around with them, see what works for you.

But most importantly, keep practicing.

Because it’s through consistent practice that transformation truly happens.

Bree Lennon

Bree Lennon

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