Friday, 15 May 2009

Proper Breathing Can Enhance Your Yoga Positions

Many yoga positions are geared to improve your posture. Like dance, yoga when done right uplifts the practitioner and helps to strengthen the spine and neck. One of the most important aspects of yoga postures is the breathing rhythm.

Pranayama is the science of breath control. By controlling your breathing, yoga practitioners discover how to control their thoughts and emotions. New practitioners are taught to first focus on the form of the posture and the motion and position of their bodies. The Asanas or exercises are the physical aspect of yoga. This aspect develops your physical form; it allows you to build a strong foundation for what is to follow.

What most new practitioners don't yet realize is that proper breathing consists of five of the eight fold path of yoga. Proper breathing is important for a number of reasons; the breathing itself is controlled to affect the body chemistry as you move and pose. It also controls the mind by giving focus to your mind and emotions.

Once you are able to get your muscles to accept the movements and postures as a natural part of its routine, your mind must begin to focus on the control of your diaphragm. There are complex actions going on when you attempt to take over from your autonomic system. Breathing is an automatic system for a very good reason, if everyone had to control their daily intake and exhalation of air, I guarantee you that people would be dead as soon as they fall asleep.

What we learn to do in yoga is breathe on purpose. The cerebral cortex allows us to take over from the autonomic system to control our body's ability to take in air and expel it at our conscious will. Controlled breathing can alter our biology in profound ways. We can slow our heartbeat, our blood pressure and even affect our brain chemistry.

Executing yoga postures strengthens our bodies, our backs, knees and the arms. As you get used to practicing yoga positions everyday, you can begin to gain insight into the benefits of the breathing exercises.

Certain types of advanced breathing techniques can enrich your levels of oxygen in the blood stream and decreasing the levels of carbon dioxide. The effect is like going up to the high altitude mountains. Practitioners can sharpen their senses and reach a heightened level of awareness.

Thoracic breathing occurs in the chest. The shoulders and chest do most of the work which causes a more shallow breath. Thoracic breathing in yoga is used for therapeutic reasons. Chest breathers tend to feel short of breath and will tend to yawn.

Paradoxical breathing takes the chest breathing exercise to the extreme. During this exercise, the chest is expanded and abdomen is constricted to a large degree. Paradoxical breathing stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and stimulates your flight or fight response.

Abdominal breathing is a natural, relaxed form of breath control that reaches deeply into the diaphragm. The diaphragm plays an important part in your full breathing regimen. Lung volume is increased and your blood volume will increase as well.

You can practice abdominal breathing while lying in the prone position. Breathe through your nostrils as evenly and as deeply as you can while filling your lungs. Your abdomen will rise as your lungs expand; you'll be able to monitor the movement of your diaphragm. Make sure that your chest remains motionless during the exercise.

These exercises allow your mind and body to work together for harmonious integration. Yoga breathing exercises cover a lot more than what I've covered in this article. There are even complex systems of breathing for sex, sports, illness recovery, spiritual growth and health maintenance.

Very few of us use the full capacity of our respiratory system. Our lifestyles and priorities lead to several complications popularly called - lifestyle disorders. Many of the diseases we face later in life are based on our priorities as young men and women. Yoga can help you to deprogram your nervous system to give you full control of your breathing capacity.

If you are older and suffer from asthma, COPD, or other pulmonary ailment, yoga gives you an opportunity to help your system get back to optimal health. Be sure to practice breath control once you have achieved familiarity with your postures and poses. Trying to master both at once can be daunting for a beginner.

For more information on combating disease and getting fit with yoga, visit our website.

Article Source: