How to Breathe in Hatha Yoga

Breathing is an involuntary action – one that we seem to take for granted. How many of us stop to think of how important breathing is for the whole body, or what we gain from it? Most of us go through our whole lives, never once realizing the working of the respiratory process, or understanding whether we are breathing the right way or not.

When practicing hatha yoga, you are taught how to get rid of your bad breathing habits. Shallow and short breaths are replaced by long and deep ones, revitalizing your body in more than one way.

The Importance of Correct Breathing

Why exactly has breathing been included in the practice of hatha yoga? Why is there so much emphasis on the breathing correctly and rhythmically. There is a very good reason for this. Each breath that we take in is ‘prana’ or life force. Breathing is essential for each and every function happening within the body, however minute they might be.

Your breathing pattern changes with whatever activity you are doing. Hatha yoga focuses on regulating inhalation and exhalation, thereby making it a more conscious process, which helps your mind to focus and stay calm. If you are aware of your breathing pattern, you can manage your emotions and stress.

Another benefit of focusing on proper breathing during the hatha yoga asanas is that you are able to control your movements better. There is greater co-ordination between your muscles and the nervous system, and the chances of any injury are reduced.

Exhalation More Important in Hatha Yoga

When most people breathe, they believe that inhalation in the more important process. In hatha yoga, however, exhalation is given far more importance. Unless you breathe out slowly and completely, there is no way that you will be able to breathe in fresh air. Therefore, breathing out properly is a pre-requisite for breathing in properly.

When you exhale slowly and calmly, you attempt to empty the lungs completely of impure air. In real terms, it’s almost impossible to completely empty your lungs, as there will always be residual impure air in the lungs. However, breathing correctly during hatha yoga ensures that this residue is reduced to the barest minimum level.

Breathing in Hatha Yoga

Begin by exhaling deeply and completely through your nose. Prepare for your pose by inhaling through your nose, filling your abdominal area with air. Expand your rib cage and lift your collarbone. Do not attempt to be over-enthusiastic while inhaling and avoid puffing yourself up like a balloon. There should be absolutely no strain on your body.

As you move into the pose exhale slowly avoiding rapid bursts of breath. For as long as you hold the pose, breathe slowly and deeply. As you move out of the pose, inhale completely. Repeat the whole process with the next posture.

A few pointers you might want to keep in mind when breathing in hatha yoga. Unless advised to do so, never breathe through your mouth. You should not breathe noisily. Your breathing should be silent and slow. The flow of air into your body should be continuous.

Though it might seem a little difficult in the beginning, given some time and practice, you will be able to pick up the right way of breathing in hatha yoga.


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