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Yoga Benefits part 2 – Breathing

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Yoga is much more than a body movement!

Yoga is much more than just stretching and movement. From mediation to breathing Yoga has more to offer than what most of us are aware of.

You may think “Yoga, I don’t really do any Yoga” first we encourage you to try but if it is not feasible to fit into your lifestyle no worries breathing techniques can be implemented at any level in any given timeframe and by anyone.

Let’s talk about breathing

In yoga, breath is your life force. It’s what keeps you grounded, calm, clear headed. It’s what helps you make better decisions in all sorts of situations.  For thousands of years, yoga has included breathing techniques that we now know are scientifically proven to:

  • Improve blood pressure
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Restore energy levels
  • Reduce pain
  • Relax muscles
  • Lower stress-induced cortisol levels

The following are types of breathing techniques and what they used for.

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1. Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing

This type of breathing brings almost immediate relief to those who are suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, or when you’re feeling agitated.

It helps slow your heartbeat, lower your blood pressure, and calms down the central nervous system. Alternate nostril breathing is a good practice for general well being as well. And the more you practice, the easier it will be to use this type of yogic breath during times of stress.

Check out this video: Yoga Breathing | Alternate Nostril Breathing  https://youtu.be/8VwufJrUhic

2. Ujjayi or Ocean’s Breath

Ocean’s Breath is the most common form of breathing in yoga practices.

This form of yogic breathing has been shown to improve the quality of life in cancer patients, patients who suffer from severe depressive issues, and has even been shown in a few studies to help people who suffer from hypothyroidism by improving pulmonary function.

In yoga, breath is even more important than the actual poses. Here are some other names Ocean’s Breath may go by:

  • Victorious breathing
  • Snake breathing
  • Whispering breath
  • Snoring breath

Check out this video:  Ujjayi Breathing | Yoga with Adriene https://youtu.be/IQrsJ-yZWV8 

3. Shitali pranayama or cooling breath

This type of breathing is most effective in the warmer months when your body may need a little help cooling down.

Cooling breath, also known as “Taco Breath” after the curled tongue used to move the air, is known to:

  • Quelch thirst and hunger
  • Improve bad breath
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Reduce fevers
  • Improve high blood pressure

When done properly, this type of yogic breathing directs heat away from the head, neck, and digestive system to help cool the body.

Check out this video:  Sheetali Pranayama | Cooling Breath https://youtu.be/JYHHskV-Rug

4. Sitkari pranayama or hissing breath

This type of yoga breath is another variation of cooling breath. The only difference is shitali pranayama is performed through a rolled tongue stuck out of the mouth, and sitkari pranayama is performed through clenched teeth.

During hissing breath, do not clench your teeth so tightly that it hurts your teeth or jaws. Teeth should be only just clenched.

Hissing breath is also another cooling breath and can be done in the heat of the day or any time when the body needs to be cooled down. It also reduces anxiety, anger, agitation, and calms the mind.

Check out this video: Sheetkari or Shitkari Pranayama (Hissing Breath) | How to Do Step by Step for Beginners with Benefits https://youtu.be/yWI09RUBxY0

5. Brahmari or humming breath

The name of this breath type is named after a black Indian bee.

If you have a hard time meditating or maintaining focus while you’re meditating, humming breath is very helpful, but it is also good to do before going to bed.

Brahmari pranayama releases cerebral tension and helps lower blood pressure, helping to relax your central nervous systems.

This type of breathing should not be done lying down. Always practice this breath sitting upright. It is also contraindicated in pregnant or menstruating women, and people who suffer with extremely high blood pressure, epilepsy, chest pain, or ear infection.

Check out this video: Learn the Humming Bee Breath Technique | Bhramari Pranayama | Yoga https://youtu.be/KkurfEQrg94

6. Bhastrika or bellows breath

If you’re wanting to lose weight, this type of yogic breathing might be useful to you!

Bellows breath is used to energize and awaken the body. It also may help boost digestion and increase metabolism. However, absolutely do not practice this type of breathing if you have cardiac issues, extremely high blood pressure, or a hernia (or previous issues with hernia).

Check out this video: What are the benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama or Bellows Breath https://youtu.be/etOOyuERTe4

7. Surya Bhedana or solar breath

The main purpose of the solar breath is to bring vital energy and life to the body, to revitalize it. This type of yogic breathing gives the sympathetic nervous system a boost and increases the efficiency of the digestive tract.

You will be bringing heat to the body through your inhale (on your right nostril) and cooling your body on the exhale out of your left nostril.

The whole digestive system is affected by this form of breathing, so it is best not to do it right after eating.

Check out this video: Surya Bhedana Pranayama With Jason Milne https://youtu.be/5WOydee6_3c

8. Chandra Bhedana or lunar breath

This yoga breath practice is just the opposite of how you perform the solar breath practice. The idea is to bring coolness to the body..

It is important not to do both breaths on the same day and only do twice a day, in the morning and evening.

Check out this video: Yoga Breathing Exercise for Anxiety | Chandra Bhedana https://youtu.be/Fs-04uIn48w

9. Active Yoga Breathing

This breathing will help you be more prepared to do the common Ocean’s Breath during almost any yoga practice.

It is the practice of breathing deeply, evenly, and consistently during physical activity, such as walking or bike riding. If walking, use 5-10 steps for your inhale and 5 to 10 steps to exhale. Doing this helps to calm your body and give you the benefits of deep breathing while also getting exercise.

Stay tuned for Yoga Benefits part 3 where we talk about meditation.