A yoga breathing technique is the foundation to a good yoga practice and an incredible benefit to the respiratory system.   Breathing from the chest is shallow and not as effective as breathing from the belly, which uses the diaphragm more effectively than the chest. The diaphragm is fundamental because it is the crucial muscle in respiration.  Other muscles that are used include the tributary muscles, which are sternocleidomastoid and scalene, located at the front of the throat.   The intercostal muscles are also used which are between the ribs and the abdominal muscles.  So why is yoga so beneficial to the respiratory system and overall health?

Yoga Breathing Is Good For Your Heart

Research has shown that taking steady deep breaths can be beneficial to many areas of the body including:

  • Respiratory system
  • Heart
  • Nervous system
  • Concentration and focus

Holding the breath can have the opposite effect, causing stress on the body and particularly the heart.   According to The British Heart Foundation, partaking in a regular yoga practice not only increases flexibility, balance, and concentration, but more oxygen in the blood helps reduce blood pressure.  Yoga breathing is called pranayama, which can also aid relaxation and in turn the nervous system, connecting the respiratory system to the rest of the body.

Respiratory Health

Yoga is not all about bending your body into impressive poses, but also improving the posture and working on a breathing technique. Pranayama is the practice of controlled breathing, whether alternating through the nostrils (Nadi Sodhana), or Sama Vritti, where the length of time inhaling equals exhaling.  Although not scientifically proven, there is a belief that using a yoga breathing technique can help make the body stronger, as well as improve symptoms of respiratory illness like bronchitis and asthma.
These practices are not a cure, but an aid to good health and should be treated in such a manner.   Asthma sufferers have often been told to swim because of the variety of muscles used, as well as breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.  Yoga has a similar ethos, but has the added benefit of concentrating on spiritual well being, body strength, posture, and relaxing the body while opening the airways.  Using yoga techniques may set up a barrier against symptoms of the common cold and other ailments.  By concentrating on the body’s overall health and supporting the immune structure, potential illnesses will stay away.

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Basic Yoga Breathing Exercises

Taking a yoga class twice a week is proven to relax the body and promote good health.  With busy daily schedules, it is not always possible to take a class.  It is conceivable to partake in yoga breathing without leaving home.  The following steps are the basics for Pranayama, and they should be practiced at least three times a week.

  • Sit on the ground with legs loosely crossed
  • Place hands, palm facing down on knees
  • Make sure the back is straight, with tummy in and shoulders back (no slouching allowed)
  • Concentrate on breathing
  • Breath in through the nostrils for five counts and hold for ten counts, then exhale through the mouth for ten counts
  • Repeat these exercises 10 times

Yoga and its benefits, including the breathing exercises, have infiltrated the Western world and Western medicine with many doctors realizing its benefits on mind and body.  Taking a proactive approach to an individual’s health may help prevent certain illnesses and manage others.  So take a deep breath through the nostrils and join a yoga class, it can be lifesaving.
To read more on Yoga and its benefits, please visit www.getthrive.com
British Heart Foundation
Breathing exercises