Breathing serves as the foundation, the core of yoga. Those beautiful poses are regulated by breath and deep meditation is guided by breath. Mindfulness is cultivated through this most vital of forces. Pranayama (control, extension of the breath) is one of the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga, but you will find that purposeful breathing runs deep in every yogic philosophy. Learn to love it. Take a deep breath. That freshness is easy to fall in love with.
This quick guide will offer a few basic breathing techniques that every beginner should know. Pranayama is a multi-faceted practice, and you could spend a lifetime in exploration of it, but learning to truly experience breath is the best way to begin.
1. Observe to Learn
Learn to observe, observe to learn. Feel the air passing through your nostrils, down into your throat, filling your lungs. Observe the sensations. Feel the breath filling your lungs. Feel your chest expanding. Pay attention to the sensations as you breathe out. Observe the natural rhythm. Observe irregular breaths, shallow breaths, too-fast or too-slow breaths, but do not pass judgment. Keep breathing. Yoga beginners should passively observe their breath several times a day. Leave a few reminders around the house if necessary: “observe”.
2. Incorporate Visualization
Breathing is the ultimate spiritual practice. It sustains us. Imagine that energy filling your lungs and expanding them. Use imagery to track the progress of the breath as it enters through the nostrils and fills the lungs. Imagine a bright light, a purifying energy, sweeping into the bottom of your lungs and circulating through your bloodstream. Visualize the toxins and impurities of body and mind leaving the body upon exhalation. Feel the pure radiant energy between each breath. Imagery can help you stay focused and can root your experience in the present moment.
3. Practice Technique
Every branch of yoga handles breathing practice in a different way. Many asana-based practices begin by integrating controlled breathing at specific points in the pose, inhaling and exhaling through certain movements. This is a great way for yoga beginners to learn the basics. Some practices begin with a structured pranayama practice – such as alternate nostril breathing or various types of rhythmic breathing – and others do the pranayama in the middle or at the end. Every beginner level yoga class will involve some type of breathing exercise.
Yoga beginners find great excitement at the prospect of mastering complicated asanas and reaching a new level of mindfulness through meditation. Postures and mantras are great fun but it all starts with a simple breath. Whether you are practicing by book, learning in group classes, or studying through self-guided exploration, begin with breath and the rest comes naturally.
Thanks for reading my article. Keep these tips in mind to re-balance yourself whenever things get hectic. Check out this wonderful Kindle book if you’re looking for a beginner guide to Yoga poses and breathing exercises.