The Benefits of Yoga: Deep Breathing
Yoga has become very popular in recent years, with yoga centers opening up all over and more gyms offering classes. Yoga is not a new form of exercise. It is actually an ancient Indian practice that has many health benefits. Spending a few times a week on your mat or practicing deep breathing exercises throughout the day can go a long way.
What is yoga? Yoga is a practice that involves sequences of different poses that incorporate stretching, strengthening, balance and deep breathing. There are many different types of yoga and each have a different focus. Some focus more on meditation and stretching and others are faster paced and more athletic. Yoga can also be adapted to individuals who are not able or unsafe to stand during a traditional yoga class. This form of yoga is called chair yoga and is offered at some senior centers and yoga studios.
What is the most important aspect of this practice? According to most yoga instructors, they will tell you to focus on your breath. Even if you fall out of a posture or have lost your breath, your instructor will tell you to take a moment to recover and find your breath. Often, instructors will encourage a restorative posture such as child’s pose to recover in before continuing the practice.
Many of us don’t use or lungs efficiently. We tend to not expand our ribcage by taking deep breaths and as a result, we take more frequent, shallower breaths. This can cause the muscles around the ribcage to become tight and could lead to pain or discomfort. Breathing during yoga also focuses on taking deep breaths in through the nose and exhale varies between the nose and the mouth. This technique of inhaling through the nose actually allows the lungs to get more oxygen compared to breathing through the mouth. In addition, taking these deeper breaths gives is very calming to the body which as a result can help to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. A decrease in stress and anxiety can help to decrease pain and tension and improve your mood.
Even if you aren’t interested in yoga or don’t have time to take a class, take a few moments to take a few deep breaths each day. Make sure to slowly inhale through your nose and exhale either through your nose with your mouth closed or through your mouth with your mouth open. Try counting to 4 when inhaling and 4 while exhaling to make sure you are breathing slowly. You can even try working up to inhaling through your nose to a count of 4 and holding your breath with your lungs fully expanded for a few seconds then forcefully exhaling through your mouth.