Your yoga practice and the way you breathe are intertwined. You won't fully experience the benefits of yoga without first learning how to breathe properly.
Different types of yoga practice call for different types of breathing, so it is important to note from the beginning that there is no one right way to breathe in yoga. If, in your yoga practice, your goal is total relaxation so your breathing should reflect that. This means long deep breaths meant to slow your heart rate and allow you to fully relax into the yoga pose. Here are a few tips:
* The diaphragm is where the breath originates in yoga and in everyday life. When you breathe in, your stomach puffs slightly because your diaphragm is filling with air. When you breathe out, your stomach flattens as your diaphragm empties itself of air. When you breathe, be sure that your stomach is moving, that you aren't restricting this movement in any way.
* It is important to relax every muscle in your chest, your face, your neck, your shoulders ñ even your jaw ñ in order to benefit from a relaxing breath in yoga. One way to do this is to clench the body part in question and then let go entirely. You may not even realise that your muscles are locked until you try to contract them.
* Keep your breaths smooth and easy during your yoga practice. Everyone breathes at their own natural rate, but becoming conscious of your breath does not mean controlling it in any way. Notice your breath and relax into your own natural rhythm.
* Breathing faster, in and out, is a natural reaction to stress or excitement. It stands to reason then, that relaxing breath in yoga should accentuate the exhalation. Breathe in naturally and make sure that your exhalation is longer than your inhalation and fully empty your diaphragm and lungs of air.
* Pausing between breaths will allow you to relax even further in yoga. No need to rush through your relaxation.
* When you breathe, feel the oxygen in the lungs and visualise it reaching every extremity, every toe and finger. Let your whole body enjoy the relaxing breath in your yoga practice.
When you learn how to breathe, you will find that it comes naturally in your yoga practice and in time, will continue in your everyday life.