July 31, 2020

How to breathe correctly while doing yoga poses?

For the past couple months I’ve done extensive research on breathing in general. You might be surprised to find out that so many people don’t know how to breathe correctly and don’t ever question their breathing habits, even when faced with serious health issues such as snoring, sleep apnea, and malocclusions. I highly recommend the latest book by James Nestor called “Breath. The New Science of a Lost Art”.

Key Takeaways from the Book:

  • Breath through your nose as much as possible.
  • Tape your mouth at night and opt for side sleeping vs back/belly sleeping. Ideally the bed needs to be on a slight incline so that your head is higher than your feet.
  • Talk less! When you talk, you tend to mouthbreathe.
  • Humming is extremely beneficial for our health as it increases levels of nitric oxide in the blood. Make it a habit to hum 15-20 min a day.
  • Maintain correct mouth posture by keeping your teeth in slight contact with each other and pressing your tongue against the upper pallet of your mouth.
  • Take long, deep, diaphragmatic breaths , and exhale slowly.
  • When exercising, strive to breathe as slow as possible through your nose, even when you are doing a very strenuous activity and are tempted to mouthbreathe.
  • if your nasal passages are blocked, try to clean them by blowing your nose, using a Netty Pot (nasal rinse with salt water). If you nose is blocked due to allergies, use anti-allergy remedies. Do anything in your power to open up your nasal airways so you can breathe through your nose.
  • Doing breathing exercises is very useful for the body and the mind. Certain types of yoga, for instance, kundalini yoga, use a lot of different pranayamas (breathing techniques). 
  • Wim Hof method of breathing proves to expand lung capacity, calm down nervous system, regulate body temperature, and improve immune system. It has become my favorite breathing practice! Here’s the link to the 10-min guided session by Wim Hof.

How to breathe during yoga asana practice?

In my opinion, as mentioned above, as long as you are breathing through your nose and slowly, you are doing your body good. There is a very popular type of breathing that helps to warm the body from the inside, calm down nervous system, and maintain a better focus during yoga asana practice. It is called Ujjayi, or victorious breath. Some people also call it oceanic breath, because it has a certain ocean-like sound to it.

To perform ujjayi breathing, follow these simple steps:

  • Seal your lips, establish a proper mouth posture, and start to breathe in and out through your nose.
  • Take a slow inhale, and as you exhale slowly through your nose, constrict the muscles in the back of your throat to produce a an ocean-like sound.
  • Once you have mastered this on the out-breath, use the same method for the in-breath, gently constricting the back of your throat as during both inhalations and exhalations. 

This breathing technique is rather simple to learn. I’m sure after a few rounds of breaths you will get it. I recommend doing it sitting or lying down first, and then incorporating it into your asana practice. Notice how this breathing method affects your practice. Here’s a demonstration video for ujjayi breathing.

I hope this blog posts brings some insights into your breathing routine and yoga practice. I am currently available for private yoga lessons in Los Angeles area or online, and I have room in my schedule for a couple new clients. It could be YOU!!!1q2 I offer a free trial session, flexible payment plans, and I am here to answer any questions you might have. Don’t hesitate to reach out! 

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