No matter what anybody tells you, yogic breathing is typically done through the nose, both during inhalation and exhalation.
For traditional yogis, the mouth is meant for eating and the nose for breathing. Here are three good reasons to breathe through the nose:
- Since you are breathing through two small holes instead of one big one, it slows down your breathing. In Yoga, slow is good.
- According to traditional Yoga, nasal breathing stimulates the subtle energy center, which is located near your sinuses. This location is the meeting place of the left (cooling) and the right (heating) current of vital energy that act directly on the nervous and endocrine systems.
- Your nose is the only organ able to properly prepare the air you breathe; mouth breathing leads to over-breathing, chronic hyperventilation, depleted carbon dioxide levels, reduced blood circulation and narrowing of the airways
Relaxing with a couple of deep breaths
Think about the many times you’ve heard someone say “Now just take a couple of deep breaths and relax.” Well, it really works!
Yogic breathing is like sending a fax to your nervous system with the message to relax.
Try the following exercise:
1. Sit comfortably in a chair.
2. Close your eyes and visualize a swan gliding peacefully across a crystal-clear lake.
3. Now, like the swan, let your breath flow along in a long, smooth, and peaceful movement. Ideally, inhale and exhale through your nose.
4. Extend your breath to its comfortable maximum for 20 rounds; then gradually let your breath return to normal.
5. Afterward, take a few moments to sit with your eyes closed and notice the difference in how you feel overall.
Practicing safe yogic breathing
Here are a few safety tips to help you enjoy your experience.
- If you have problems with your lungs (such as a cold or asthma) or heart disease, consult your physician before embarking on breath control, even under the supervision of a Yoga therapist.
- Don’t practice breathing exercises when the air is too cold or too hot. Avoid practicing in polluted air, including the smoke from incense. Whenever possible, practice breath control outdoors or with an open window.
- Don’t strain your breathing — remain relaxed while doing the breathing exercises.
- Don’t overdo the number of repetitions.
- Don’t wear any constricting pants or belts.
“It is a common belief that we breathe with our lungs alone, but in point of fact, the work of breathing is done by the whole body. The lungs play a passive role in the respiratory process. Their expansion is produced by an enlargement, mostly downward, of the thoracic cavity and they collapse when that cavity is reduced. Proper breathing involves the muscles of the head, neck, thorax, and abdomen. It can be shown that chronic tension in any part of the body’s musculature interferes with the natural respiratory movements.
Breathing is a rhythmic activity. Normally a person at rest makes approximately 16 to 17 respiratory incursions a minute. The rate is higher in infants and in states of excitation. It is lower in sleep and in depressed persons. The depth of the respiratory wave is another factor which varies with emotional states. Breathing becomes shallow when we are frightened or anxious. It deepens with relaxation, pleasure and sleep. But above all, it is the quality of the respiratory movements that determines whether breathing is pleasurable or not. With each breath a wave can be seen to ascend and descend through the body. The inspiratory wave begins deep in the abdomen with a backward movement of the pelvis. This allows the belly to expand outward. The wave then moves upward as the rest of the body expands. The head moves very slightly forward to suck in the air while the nostrils dilate or the mouth opens. The expiratory wave begins in the upper part of the body and moves downward: the head drops back, the chest and abdomen collapse, and the pelvis rocks forward.
Breathing easily and fully is one of the basic pleasures of being alive. The pleasure is clearly experienced at the end of expiration when the descending wave fills the pelvis with a delicious sensation. In adults this sensation has a sexual quality, though it does not induce any genital feeling. The slight backward and forward movements of the pelvis, similar to the sexual movements, add to the pleasure. Though the rhythm of breathing is pronounced in the pelvic area, it is at the same time experienced by the total body as a feeling of fluidity, softness, lightness and excitement.
The importance of breathing need hardly be stressed. It provides the oxygen for the metabolic processes; literally it supports the fires of life. But breath as “pneuma” is also the spirit or soul. We live in an ocean of air like fish in a body of water. By our breathing we are attuned to our atmosphere. If we inhibit our breathing we isolate ourselves from the medium in which we exist. In all Oriental and mystic philosophies, the breath holds the secret to the highest bliss. That is why breathing is the dominant factor in the practice of Yoga.”
― Alexander Lowen, The Voice of the Body
You breathe when you are asleep, when you are no longer conscious of your own ideas of self-identity. Who, then, is breathing? The collection of information that you mistakenly think it’s you is not the main protagonist in this drama called the breath. In fact, you are not breathing; breath is naturally happening to you. You can purposely end your own life, but you cannot purposely keep your own life going. The expression, “My life” is actually an oxymoron, a result of ignorance and mistaken assumption. You don’t posses life; life expresses itself through you. Your body is a flower that life let bloom, a phenomenon created by life.”
From The Twelve Enlightenments― Ilchi Lee
Breathing is such a natural activity that we seldom give it thought. The only time we even become conscious of it is when we’re breathless from exertion or, well, panic. Or in the case of swimming, sometimes both at once.
There’s probably a greater range of breathing skill in swimming than in any other activity. Elite swimmers can breathe effortlessly while maintaining perfect form at maximum exertion and world-record pace.
Breathing is unquestionably the most fundamental of all swimming skills. If you can learn to do it nearly as well and automatically in the water as on land, it helps calm and focus you to work on basic skills. It also provides the aerobic capacity to swim long distances and fuels the power to swim at maximum speeds.
3. Continue your exhale-focused breathing, but consciously shift to making each inhale as passive as possible. How much of your lungs can you refill simply as a response to the “vacuum” you created with your exhale, before making your inhale more active? Repeat until you notice an increase in your ability to refill passively.
We can’t live without breathing, that’s a scientific and physical fact. But knowing how to breathe properly can actually not only allow you to live, it can also allow you to improve your health. And it’s free. All you need to do is to learn how to breathe properly. One way to do that is by subscribing to our Online Course, it’s fairly inexpensive, plus, you’ll save money instead of buying regular medicine.
Moreover, the air you breathe is not only free, but you can also choose where you want to breathe it. May it be in a park or at home, or even by the seaside, there’s always room for breathing. Doing it properly is only a small investment compared to what this can do to you if you’re serious about it.
Here’s an extract from a Health note on the Daily Mail (UK) on why breathing might just be one of the most important things to do in a day, and why doing it properly can be vital.
“We all do it on average 20,000 times a day – but are we doing it properly?
While most of us never give breathing a second thought, the way you draw breath can affect your physical and mental wellbeing.
Breathing properly can reduce your stress levels, improve your workouts and boost your immunity to infections and illnesses. Poor breathing can lead to panic attacks and even conditions like insomnia and depression.
Read our guide below to why breathing properly is so important.
And click on the links at the bottom of the page for two specific breathing techniques that can boost your health, discover if breathing correctly can help you lose weight and follow our specially designed ‘breath workout’ for femail readers.
Why is breathing properly important?
Breathing correctly means that our bodies are being supplied with the right amount of oxygen, replenishing our brain and other vital organs with essential nutrients.
If you are not breathing correctly, your body can be robbed of oxygen, leading to a host of conditions.
Your skin can suffer as it is not receiving enough fresh oxygenated blood, your muscles can tire easily during a workout as they are not getting the right amount of oxygen and you can feel constantly tired and lethargic because there are not enough vital nutrients being carried in the blood.
Breathing incorrectly can also affect the levels of carbon dioxide – or CO2 – in the blood. While oxygen is important for our bodies to function properly, CO2 is just as vital.
Fiona Agombar, a yoga teacher and author, explains, ‘You need a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. If you breathe too fast, you breathe off too much carbon dioxide, which, in turn, will make your whole system too alkaline.
‘A certain level of CO2 is necessary for your cells to maintain the correct level of acidity and to function properly.’ ”
So, if breathing can help you cure certain conditions you may have, why not give it a try? After all, you might even enjoy it.
A few dietary advices…
For the control of all breathing difficulties, certain minimum dietary restrictions are necessary. All mucus-forming foods should be severely restricted. Milk and products like ice cream and tea or coffee laced with milk and sugar, groundnuts (peanuts), peanuts butter, refined and processed products of all types, but especially white flour products, white rice, white sugar, soda drinks, pastries and sweets, especially chocolate must be particularly avoided.
The diet should contain plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and many of these should be used in the raw form as juices. Plenty of water should be included for daily use so that the affected tissue can be re-nourished by the good diet. All condiments should be kept to a minimum and when used, used as a medicine
For more Breathing Tips, please try our online course –
Dominique is one of the rare internationally renowned breathing masters.
Having acquired and mastered the Pranayama Yoga techniques in Pondicherry, South India more than three decades ago, Dominique has since been traveling around the World and has taught the Art of breathing in five continents, in India, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, USA, Brazil, Africa, Australia, and Europe.
A French native now based in Europe, (specially in Scandinavia) is currently working with artists in preparation for their plays, shows or musicals.
Born in France, Dominique became absorbed in a career in health, fitness and spirituality at a very early age. He received his initiation and first instructions in Yoga in a Buddhist temple in Hikkaduwa / Sri Lanka, and after 6 months of training, moved to India to study under the world-renowned Dr. Swami Gitananda, who recognized in Dominique, one of his most outstanding and talented students. Along the years, Dominique gave his preference to the extreme importance of the breath. And his work and philosophy is now entirely related to the breathing system.
He deeply believes that anyone without a proper breathing control is unable to think and act positively according to the Nature. That is why Dominique states that if the entire world in reaching its worst chaotic moments, it is due to a massive and global pollution and a wrong alimentation and one of the result is the misuse of our brain. A superficial breath will influence the brain negatively. The brain will not receive enough oxygen and will then transmit wrong message to the rest of the system.
To Dominique, the best way to be aware of a situation and react positively, is breathing well (deep and slow): if we feel a lot of anger in ourselves, there are two ways to react:
• getting rid of that anger by reacting violently and harming our surrounding
• breathing right and feel the anger transformed in a peaceful and civilized thought or action
It is a little bit more than breathing deep…
The Deep and Slow Breath can be acquired very easily. To get a perfect breathing system, we must re-educate our thoracic cage.
A few exercises accompanied with some deep breathings will allow every part of the thoracic cage to expand wide enough so that every single alveoli of the lungs will be correctly inflated with air. Everyone can have access to this marvelous technique. It takes only a few minutes practice everyday.
Breathing is not a simple thing as we think it is: we do it automatically, but do we do it in the right way for every breath?
As breathing detoxifies and releases toxins, if you are not breathing effectively, you are not properly getting rid of the toxins in your body, forcing other muscles in your body to work more and the next thing you know you’re sick.
On the other side, breathing better will help you release tension. Think how your body feels when you are tense, angry, scared or stressed. It constricts. Your muscles get tight and your breathing becomes shallow. When your breathing is shallow you are not getting the amount of oxygen that your body needs. Breathing better will help you relax and feel less stressed.
The movements of the diaphragm during the deep breathing exercise massages the stomach, small intestine, liver and pancreas. The upper movement of the diaphragm also massages the heart. When you inhale air your diaphragm descends and your abdomen will expand. By this action you massage vital organs and improves circulation in them. Controlled breathing also strengthens and tones your abdominal muscles. This is probably why we call the diaphragm the 2nd heart of our body.