Benefits of Breathing in Yoga

Benefits of Breathing in Yoga

On waking every morning, I do some simple yoga in bed. I spend a few minutes on easy stretches  and conscious breathing. Breathing in yoga is a revelation. It can be brief and uncomplicated yet have a profound effect.

At the moment, the nights are still drawing in and I breathe into the dark. It’s warm and cozy and I want to nest in for the winter under the calming blanket of my breath. Exhalations gather above me,  puffy and low – it’s a comforting feeling.

In the summer, the day taps my shoulder early and I always keep an ear open for the  mourning doves that nest in our courtyard. I wake fizzing with energy and my breath lifts me up, eager to start the day. It’s a tonic.

How often do you think about your breath? It just seems to happen! Yet breath doesn’t just give us life, sometimes we don’t notice how it shifts and changes with our mood and motion. In winter breathing first thing in the morning is calming and centering while in summer my inhalations and exhalations are energizing. Yoga harnesses this power.

Connecting the mind and the body through breathing in yoga

There’s magic that happens when your breath syncs up with your yoga sequence.  Without seeming effort, you find yourself more in tune with your body and what it’s telling you.  There’s a pathway to understand better what you’re feeling: upbeat? dragging? something unexpected? Breathing in yoga  is giving you information on your body.

This understanding of your body’s nuances gives you a profound connection between your mind and your body. Often our society thinks of them as separate and there’s a tendency to focus on what we don’t like about our body.

This habit doesn’t serve our wellbeing – so breath to the rescue! Our breathing during yoga helps us forge a marvelous link between our mind and body.  Each breath helps blow away this false barrier, and we can begin to feel our body and mind working in tandem, true partners. They may even become friends!

Pranayama – Breathing itself in yoga – no poses!

Your breath doesn’t just give information, it can also help you shift your mood or energy. The darkness of winter mornings and the light streaming in on summer mornings affected how my breath felt. Yoga has different types of breathing that has a similar effect. This is called pranayama – it’s  seated and is is focused on breathing itself. Yummy Yoga Girl Natalie explores one type of pranayama in her blog post Three Daily Self Care Habits for Autumn – it’s one that energizes, breath of fire. Pranayama is very beneficial when you want tap into a certain type of energy – you can also try to follow your breath with deep belly breathing to experience calm.

Breathing in yoga – with movement

Connecting my breath to the poses has me listening to my body in the movement and stillness of the poses. Better yet, it seems to happen without effort. It feels like magic- but it’s also science. When this happens, the control of your breath moves from one part of your brain – the brain stem – to another – the cerebral cortex. And just like that you’re breathing from the more evolved part of the brain.

This is the difference you gain from conscious breathing. I find that connecting my breathing to movement effectively taps into my body – unconsciously! Please enjoy a short breath and movement video that is an accompanying gift to this blog. What I show is so simple – but it’s one of my favorite. I use it all the time – as a stand alone and as a warm up to a longer sequence. It’s beautifully grounding and it settles us into our body, opening us up – for the coming sequence, or for our daily life.

Claim your free video to one of my favorite Pranayam – Alternate Nostril Breathing.

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