The Breath in Yoga

Yoga Breath and Pranayama

The breath plays a crucial role in yoga classes both for physical postures as well as our mental state.

We therefore integrate a heightened awareness of the breath during yoga practice focusing on slow inhales and exhales normally through the nose rather than the mouth.

While you won’t find me introducing any scary ‘weird’ approaches in my yoga teaching I do try to set aside a few minutes in each class for conscious breath work which we call pranayama.

This time, normally just before the deep relaxation at the end of the class, is calming and grounding for the mind as well as the body. Previous students who said they were quite apprehensive about yoga breath work have been pleasantly surprised at how much they have enjoyed pranayama finding that it leaves them relaxed and peaceful with greater mental clarity.

Breathing Techniques in a Yoga Class

Breathing techniques that are explored during classes may include:

  • Simple inhales and exhales
  • Pranayama Square – inhaling for a count, retaining for that count, exhaling for that count and holding for that count then repeating
  • Bhramari (Bee Breath) – a low gentle hum that beautifully resonates in the class
  • Ujjayi (Ocean Breath) – breathing with a slight constriction of the throat which is very grounding and helps with concentration
  • Cooling Breath – with the tongue rolled and breathing through the mouth
  • Kapalabhati – short explosive contractions of the lower belly which push air out of the lungs
  • Alternate nostril breathing to reduce stress levels and improve lung function
  • Transformational breath work where we focus on circular breathing and breath retention to super oxygenate the body