It is not uncommon for students to get so confused in the beginning that they are inhaling into all three areas at the same time, back and forth. Many women start with the chest, something they are accustomed to doing to stop their tummies from pooching out when they inhale. An entire group of students often laugh as they first experience it when the sensation begins from below their feet, then travels up through the entire body, like a shot of lightning with energy, and then up and out through the top of the head. This is what The Yoga Complete Breath feels like the first time you actually get it all in, without stops, without hesitations, from the depth of your core, in a smooth, gentle, and very slow-motion sort of way. Almost all my students get slightly dizzy and lightheaded the first time they do it right. This means that their brain is being filled with more oxygen than usual. This proves to a new student that they have been successful. I don't want to belabor this point too much—I already do that as often as possible—but now you are going to come to the final step of this series when you combine all the lessons you have studied and do them as one inhalation and one exhalation with complete consciousness and awareness of both—with your body and your mind. You are not attempting to do the following unless you have mastered the first 4 stages of the Complete Yoga Breath: larynx—diaphragm—ribcage—collarbone. The links to all of these pages are also below. This breathing technique is an experience in itself and can be practiced anywhere.
How To Do
One Complete Yoga Breath Inhalation
- Lie on the floor relaxed with your legs slightly apart and arms out to the side. You can also sit, if you prefer. Just be sure your back is straight. Beginners prefer to lie down and be relaxed.
- Check the position of your head with the rest of your body to be sure it is centered and straight. You can do this by simply raising your head off the floor and looking down at your groin area. Is the center of your chin lined up with the center of your groin? If so, thatís good. If not, work at getting it right, then relax your head again.
- Begin slowly by inhaling through your larynx via the nose. Use your larynx to bring in the breath. Your mouth is closed. Let the air fill your abdomen and stomach without stopping the movement.
- Continue to inhale smoothly until your ribcage has expanded sideways.
- Without stopping the breath, continue until your chest has expanded and your collarbone has risen. You can also do this standing in front of a mirror to watch all the steps. However, it is easier to start while relaxed and lying on a floor or bed. Using your hands on the breath areas will be very helpful, too.
How To Do
One Complete Yoga Breath Exhalation
- Imagine that your body is an unstuffed cloth doll with only the air rounding out every form and curve of your body. Now, continue.
- Begin to exhale from way down deep in your abdomen, drawing the breath from below your feet up. Allow the energy to flow out of your lower body into your solar plexus area (where your diaphragm is). It continues to flow. You don't stop it in any way. Your abdomen sinks.
- Continue to exhale as slowly as you can, fully focused on your breath being expelled upward and now reaching for your ribcage. Feel the energy of your breath move through the ribcage as you continue to exhale and expel the energy from your ribcage into your larynx. The ribcage moves in again from being expanded sideways on the inhalation (above).
- Continue to exhale, and feel how all the the energy of your breath has left your body from your feet all the way to your entire head and above you. Your chest and collarbone are now fully relaxed.
TipsOnce you have mastered this technique, you can begin to use what you have learned together with the different exercises provided on this site. Read the breathing technique for each stretch or posture. If your Yoga teacher doesn't show you how to breathe into and out of every movement, ask why. An easy way to remember: You will usually inhale when your body is coming forward and up into any position, and exhale when you are coming forward to bend down. When you lift your body, inhale. When you come down, exhale. This is also common sense. Your stomach should be slightly pulled in after every exhalation for any movement where your head is lower than your chest. This strengthens the abdominal wall and will help to reduce some of the fat that accumulates there from bad habits and not enough exercise. Try to take advantage of this breathing when you need to concentrate on a difficult task, endure physical pain, require more physical strength, or do anything out of the ordinary that requires extra attention. It will help you. This is habit-forming with positive side effects. “And not only is Man dependent upon Breath for life, but he is largely dependent upon correct habits of breathing for continued vitality and freedom from disease. An intelligent control of our breathing power will lengthen our days upon earth by giving us increased vitality and powers of resistance, and, on the other hand, unintelligent and careless breathing will tend to shorten our days, by decreasing our vitality and laying us open to disease.”—Yogi Ramacharaka, Science of Breath
BENEFITS OF THE COMPLETE YOGA BREATHThe list of benefits is so long it would be take up too much space to add them all, but here are some of the most important documented benefits of practicing this powerful breathing technique:
- Your immune system will become stronger. This can eliminate the susceptibility to pulmonary and bronchial ailments, including the common cold and other respiratory problems.
- You relax your nervous system, impart energy throughout your entire body, help to alleviate pain, slow down the heartbeat, and relieve insomnia.
- Yoga has been known to heal many physical, emotional and mental disorders. Overweight people lose pounds, skinny people gain weight, back troubles vanish, high blood pressure decreases, low blood pressure increases, headaches, impotence and frigidity cease, stomach ulcers disappear, and diabetics have been known to take less insulin and sometimes even discontinue it. Of course, if you do have diabetes, talk to a healthcare professional first to make sure your tests show a change before you make such a decision on your own.
- If you have respiratory or heart problems, insomnia, nervous disorders, migraines, or any disorder that requires relaxation, you will benefit from practicing this breath technique on a daily basis. Respiratory problems benefit greatly from concentrating more on the exhalation and putting more emphasis on the ribcage.