01 Jul Pranayama – Yogic Breath
Although we often see yoga as a series of pose we do with our bodies, it’s the actual synchronization with the breath that makes the practice so sacred, so effective and so yummy. In today’s practice, we’d like to go back to the basics of the Yogic Breath.
Although Yogic Breath is a pranayama, or breathing technique, as is, it’s also the breath we often use during our asana (yoga postures) practice. Today though, we’re just doing the breathing technique, without movement.
How to practice Yogic Breath
The easiest way to understand the Yogic Breath is to see it as three different steps that naturally follow each other. During the first part, you fill up the belly with fresh air, followed by the chest, and then the throat.
This means that if you would at someone practicing this pranayama, you would first see their belly expand, then their chest, and then see their collarbones rise a little. On the exhale, you would see the collarbones come down again, the chest move back and the navel draw in.
You can also test this on your own body, by first placing the hands on the lower abdomen, so you feel the belly expand. Then place the hands on your chest, to experience the expansion in the chest area, and finally place your hands on your upper chest and collarbones, so you can feel the slight rising of the collarbones during the third stage.
Let’s do it!
- To start the practice, close your eyes and let your breath flow naturally in and out through your nose so you can land on your mat or chair.
- When you feel ready to start, begin with a slow inhale through your nose that you send all the way down to the bottom of your belly. Fill up your whole belly.
- Exhale through your nose to release, empty the belly, let the navel draw in. This is the first stage. You can do a few more practice rounds of this stage to get used to the feeling of the breath flowing in and out of your belly.
- Then practice the second stage: breathing in and out of your chest. This means that when you inhale, you focus on filling up the chest with fresh air so the ribcage expands both to the front and to the side.
- Exhale to release, and let the chest and ribcage come back in. Practice this a few rounds to get familiar with expanding the chest and letting it sink in again.
- We can now combine the first two steps, and then you will see that the third step will follow naturally.
- When it’s time for your next inhale, first fill up your belly with air, then your lungs and then fill up the throat (which lets the collarbones rise slightly).
- Slowly exhale to first release the air from the throat, then from the chest, and finally from the belly.
- Keep going: filling up the belly, the chest and the throat, and the releasing all the way from the throat to the chest and finally the belly.
- We recommend starting with 10 rounds of breath and building it up from there.
Why practice Yogic Breath
We loooove this breath because it’s so easy and accessible, you can practice it anytime, you don’t need any tools for it. It also has lots of yummy benefits for the body and mind:
- By taking these deep inhales, we treat our bodies with lots of fresh oxygen and by using these long, full exhales we allow our bodies to release toxins.
- It’s also one of the easiest ways to connect with our breath and improve our focus and concentration.
- It helps us lower stress levels and balance our nervous system.
Who can practice Yogic Breath?
Anyone can practice Yogic Breath, including woman that are pregnant or just had a baby. We’ve included a separate note below for those of you with a blocked nose.
What if my nose is blocked?
Deep breathing through your nose can be hard when you have a cold or if you nose is blocked. Please don’t force it if it doesn’t feel good.
Do I need props?
Nope :). You can practice this breath anywhere: on your yoga mat, a carpet, the floor, a chair or stool, a meditation pillow or bolster. Anything that feels good for you and lets you sit with a straight back.
Duration of the practice
You decide :). Even a few rounds of Yogic Breath can bring you back to yourself and lower your stress levels. If you have time, practice for 5 minutes, or 10 even, or use Yogic Breath before any of the other pranayama in this space, or before your meditation, or before / during your asana practice.