Health & Beauty | 25 March 2016Yoga and Breathing Share article facebook twitter google pinterest The Student’s Manual of Yoga Anatomy tells you everything you need to know about importance of doing yoga poses correctly in order to maximize the benefits. Breathing is an essential part of yoga. Learn all about how your lungs work and the different breath techniques that can be used below. Breathing is one physical function that is both involuntary, in that it occurs without instruction from our consciousness, and voluntary, in that we can control it when we choose to. When we are not thinking about our breath, it continues to perform its vital functions of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. The nervous system is responsible for the regulation of breathing and controls the contractions of the muscles that make it happen. The process of breathing starts from a cluster of cells in the brain stem which are collectively known as the respiratory centre, and send impulses to the muscles involved – the key muscles being the intercostals (between the ribs), and the diaphragm. Lungs at rest Pranayama Pranayama is a yogic practice that increases our awareness of the physical processes involved in breathing, and in doing so allows us to have more control over them. With regular practice of breath control we can increase the amount of air we can take into the lungs, leading to increased oxygenation of the blood. This is thought to help repair the body at a cellular level. Controlling the breath through pranayama is known to lower both the heart rate and blood pressure, improving the efficiency of the body in ultilizing oxygen. When the body works efficiently in this way, it has less physical stress placed upon it. This allows the mind to become calm, and so easier to control – which is one of the main aims of yoga. During the practice of yoga asana, we should aim to lengthen both the inward breath and the outward breath, subtly energizing the body. Our breathing during yoga can also give an indication of whether we are working too strongly and putting undue strain on the body. If the breath is shallow and erratic, the body is being overexerted and will become tense. This is a sign that the yoga practice should be gentler so that the breath can again become slow and steady. Inspiration Breath-control Techniques There are several pranayama techniques that can be used as part of a yoga practice. The two most common and accessible of these are outlined below: Victorious Breath (Ujjayi Breathing) This technique is both energizing and relaxing, and the sound it produces is often likened to the sound of the ocean. The breath is practised by inhaling slightly more deeply than normal and, with the mouth closed, exhaling through the nose. The muscles of the throat remain slightly constricted throughout, and this action of the throat creates a “Haaaa” sound. Ujjayi breathing can be performed in a seated position and is especially effective when done during asana practice. Expiration Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhan) This is a simple breathing technique that works therapeutically to improve respiration and circulation. It also releases accumulated stress in the mind and body effectively. The breath is practised by sitting comfortably with the spine straight and the left hand placed on the left knee, palm face-up. The tips of the index finger and middle finger of the right hand are tucked in towards the palm – if this is not possible the fingers can be extended with the tips resting lightly on the ‘third eye’ point, in between the eyebrows. Close the right nostril with the thumb, and inhale through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril with the the second finger and little finger, remove the thumb, and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril. The thumb is then pressed on the right nostril again and the second and little finger are lifted from the left nostril, and the breath is released gently through the left nostril. This is one cycle of alternate nostril breathing. This technique is usually practiced for two minutes to begin with, gradually increasing to five minutes. Buy from an Online Retailer US: The Student’s Manual of Yoga Anatomy is the essential guide for anyone looking to understand the importance of doing yoga poses correctly in order to maximize the benefit and avoid pain and injury. With the guidance of Sally Parkes and Joanna Culley, students and instructors glean a simple and clear understanding of the practice of yoga. Work through 50 step-by-step illustrated poses (asanas) that are perfect for working through each section of the body. Including an overview of the musculoskeletal system to explain the body systems and terminology discussed. Then it deeply introduces yoga, looking at the styles of Hatha yoga, movements of the spine and its axis points, how levers change the intensity of each asana, types of muscle activity, and the science of breathing. Full-color anatomical illustrations and clear, concise text of 50 common yoga asanas make the science easy to understand, and allow a deeper understanding of yoga and how it works with the body, allowing readers to easily apply what they learn to their own practice. Clear notes describe the type of muscle activation, plane of movement, axis of the spine, and options for practical modifications to allow for individual ability and injury rehabilitation. You’ll also discover a list of sequences to link the asanas together to form a complete workout routine for a healthy lifestyle. Featuring some of the most popular asanas: – Mountain Pose – Tadasana – Warrior 1 and 2 – Virabhadrasana 1 and 2 – Chair Pose – Utkatasana – Dancer’s Pose – Natarajasana – Eagle Pose – Garudasana – Hands to Feet Pose – Padangustasana – Staff Pose – Dandasana – Boat Pose – Navasana – Seated Half Lotus – Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana – Cat/Cow Pose – Marjaryasana/Bitilasana – Locust Pose – Salambasana – Upward Dog Pose – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.