Yoga - Breath control (pranayama)

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    Jan 20, 2010 10:40 PM GMT
    So I've been doing yoga off and on for a few years now, but have never really had too much experience with the breath control aspect.

    I've been reading The Complete Yoga Book by James Hewitt (which is ridiculously extensive) but I just would like some input from you guys.

    So do you do the breathing ratios (inhale:holding:exhale:holdicon_smile.gif? Is this simply during meditation or do you continue it throughout the day/the asanas?
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    Jan 21, 2010 1:18 AM GMT
    I've done Yoga.. twice now icon_razz.gif But i think (from my supremely naive understanding) you're supposed to be inhaling (through the nose!) through an entire motion -and once you reach the 'end' of a motion you exhale - and they aren't just normal breaths but long slow breaths - between motions breathe naturally?

    least that's what i figured it's like.
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    Jan 22, 2010 3:11 AM GMT
    Wikipedia has a good and accurate definition of pranyama: a Sanskrit word meaning "restraint of the prana or breath". The word is composed of two Sanskrit words, Prāna, life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath, and "āyāma", to suspend or restrain. It is often translated as control of the life force (prana). When used as a technical term in yoga, it is often translated more specifically as "breath control."

    As with re. to the actual breath- and I speak as a relatively advanced practioner of yoga, not an instructor- a teacher should be explaining prana, and if s/he doesn’t, yoga is probably not their sole endeavor. Hope this helps:

    1) Breath is a major part of yoga;
    2) The inhale and exhale ARE both through the nose, and the proper breath is called u ji e (pronunciation; unsure of spelling);
    3) the inhale and exhale should be of equal duration though I've had some teachers who tangent from this;
    4) during asanas- inhale on one movement exhale on the other e.g., through a sun salutation- from standing in Tadasana (mtn pose) inhale when raise arms over head, exhale when you swan dive, inhale from Uttanasana (stding forward bend) to halfway lift, then exhale all the way to chaturanga (lower plank) ideally Then inhale to upward dog and exhale to downward dog.


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    Jan 25, 2010 2:02 AM GMT
    Muninn said
    So do you do the breathing ratios (inhale:holding:exhale:holdicon_smile.gif? Is this simply during meditation or do you continue it throughout the day/the asanas?


    The quick answer to your question is that it depends. Certain breathing techniques are meant to be maintained during your practice, such as the Ujjayi breath that goes along with the Ashtanga/Vinyasa/Flow styles. There's also a cooling breath (the name of which is escaping me at the moment) that can be used if the asana practice gets too overheating. Others, such as Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) lend themselves to being practiced during meditation. Even something as simple as slightly altering the ratios you mention can have physiological effects. Any or all of the techniques can be used wherever/whenever if you have a need to.


    Pranayama is a huge topic, with at least as much (if not more) content as one would associate with asana practice - it just gets less attention. I would recommend asking the teachers you practice with to incorporate some pranayama into class.



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    Mar 08, 2010 6:10 AM GMT
    It seems like a hot new trend, but yoga actually began more than 3,000 years ago in India. The word yoga is Sanskrit (one of the ancient languages of the East). It means to "yoke," or unite, the mind, body, and spirit.

    Although yoga includes physical exercise, it is also a lifestyle practice for which exercise is just one component. Training your mind, body, and breath, as well as connecting with your spirituality, are the main goals of the yoga lifestyle.

    The physical part of the yoga lifestyle is called hatha yoga. Hatha yoga focuses on asanas, or poses. A person who practices yoga goes through a series of specific poses while controlling his or her breathing. Some types of yoga also involve meditation and chanting.
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    Mar 13, 2010 11:39 PM GMT
    great topic muninn,
    imho, breath is an important and for many, overlooked aspect of yoga practice. i've heard: inhale should equal exhale in duration (or try) and of course there are breath techniques for spcific purposes, heating/cooling, relaxing/invigorating, etc.
    like a lot of other things in yoga (and in life) i am aware i'm doing it wrong, but i think its more important (for now) to just keep doing it and work on perfecting my act slowly over time...icon_redface.gificon_razz.gificon_cool.gificon_lol.gif
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    Feb 05, 2011 7:11 AM GMT
    I was first taught that yoga seeks to unite the body, the mind, and the breath. When we in the west traditionally think about yoga we think asanas asanas asanas. That's about it. But pranayama is just as important as asanas, and it should have it's own practice time apart from asana practice. For strictly pranayama practice the inhale, hold, exhale might be 1-2-1 or 1-1-1 or 1-2-2. I was really fortunate that my first instructor was really heavy on pranayama, but if you're going to start practicing it you should find a good instructor for it.

    But during asana practice inhale exhale is about 1-1 or 1-2 the easiest way to remember when to inhale and when to exhale is think about waking up and going to sleep. When you wake up you stretch outward and open the chest cavity and inhale, so whenever you expand and open the chest you are going to inhale. Conversely when you go to sleep you curl up and you shoulders hunch inward and you exhale. So whenever you close the chest cavity or become smaller or do a forward bend you exhale.