Increase calm & focus, relieve stress & anxiety, & more with yogic breathing. Here are the 3 steps you’ll need to learn…
You probably already know that many forms of yoga focus a lot on the breath. But breathing in a certain rhythm with each movement during a yoga class is just the beginning. In fact, there is an entire branch of yoga that is all about how you breathe. Yoga breathwork brings your attention inward and helps you focus on something other than your thoughts, feelings, or external circumstances. This practice can help to alleviate stress and anxiety, calm your mind, and give you a greater ability to deal with stressful situations.
You may have heard of yogic breath work being referred to as Pranayama. This Sanskrit word is a combination of the two words meaning “life force energy” and “control.” By controlling your breathing, in other words, you are able to control and direct your energy.
Practicing Pranayama on a regular basis can provide both physical and mental health benefits, including stress-reduction, relaxation, and mental focus. While there are several different types of Pranayama, most of them can be broken down into three segments or parts: abdominal breathing, thoracic breathing, and clavicular breathing.
Here’s what you should know about each of these three parts:
Deep belly breathing, or abdominal breathing, can be practiced anytime to help reduce stress and anxiety. This type of breath signals to the body that it is safe to relax.
Thoracic breath is not meant to be done on its own. Breathing only into the chest space, a more shallow breath, does not induce relaxation. It is part of the yogic breath for how it, combined with deep belly breathing, uses more lung capacity.
Clavicular breathing is not intended to be done on its own. Breathing only into the clavicular area is a short, shallow breath which mimics an anxious breath. When combined with deep belly breathing and thoracic breathing it helps add a bit more breath into the full combination.
Most yogis recommend practicing in the morning on an empty stomach, or before meditation. However, you can also do the full yogic breath or simply abdominal breathing anytime throughout the day whenever you feel stressed, anxious, scattered, or want to calm and clarify the mind.
Learning to do yogic breathing correctly can take some practice. Be patient with yourself, and get comfortable with each step before moving on to the next. Set aside a few minutes each day to practice, and you’ll soon have the hang of it!