Thursday, April 12, 2012
Pranayama Deep Breathing
"Welcome to Bikram's Beginning Yoga class! Please stand with
your toes and heels together for Pranayama Deep Breathing, it's
good for your lungs and respiratory system..."
If you are semi-alert at the start of class, it should sound
Every class begins with Pranayama Deep Breathing.
As a beginner, its common that people feel awkward with this
breathing exercise. There are several things happening at once that
require coordination... breathing in slowly by the nose, then
breathing out slowly by the mouth, all with a synchronized arm and
head movement, and all while thinking 'OMG... why is it so hot in
here, what did I get myself into?'.
This deep breathing exercise may also feel a little
uncomfortable because most people have never experienced using 100%
of their lung capacity, and it's also common for the neck and
shoulders to be tight.
The good news is, after a little practice, your lung capacity
will increase, the elasticity of the lungs will improve, and the
neck and shoulders will loosen up.
Soon enough, you will be able to breathe deep and slow for the
required six second inhale, six second exhale and start your
practice strong with this energy boosting Pranayama.
So many benefits develop from Pranayama Standing Deep Breathing.
Here are a few of them:
1. Prevention of respiratory
problems like emphysema, asthma, and shortness of breath.
2. Improves the flexibility in the
cervical spine and shoulder girdle.
3. Improves overall breath control,
not only improving the entire yoga class, but also activity outside
class. It's common to hear from runners and other athletes, that
they notice improved breathing in their sport, after just one
4. Gives you energy for class and
any other physical exercise.
5. Stimulates circulation, which
wakes up the muscles and prepares them for the practice.
6. Increases oxygen content of the
7. Strengthens the leg and abdominal
8. Increases lung capacity... we use
100% of the lung capacity in this exercise, compared to 10 to 15%
lung capacity used in normal daily activity.
9. Strengthens the diaphragm, which
will improve the way you breathe, and in turn take tension out of
tight shoulders and necks.
10. Develops your singing voice strong and clear - belt out those
tunes in your car on the way home!
Here are some tips to improve the Pranayama Standing Deep
- Keep your body totally still. Just move your arms and head
- Keep your leg, hip, and abdominal muscles engaged the whole
- Breathe very slowly with the throat. Even though the air comes
in through the nose, then out the mouth, you should feel the throat
working like a valve as the air passes through.
- Keep some resistance with your knuckles against your chin as
your head moves forward and back.
- Keep the body weight on the heels.
- Try and keep your elbows up above the level of your shoulders
on the inhale AND the exhale.
- Eventually your forearms will be parallel to the ceiling on the
exhale, keep lifting the elbows up away from the body on the
exhale, but without backward bending.
- Keep the stomach in... stomach in... stomach in...
Now that we have energized the body, opened up the lungs, built
up internal heat, loosened up the neck and shoulders with our
Pranayama Deep Breathing, we are ready to dive into Half Moon Pose
with Hands to Feet Pose!
Is anyone sweating yet?
Article co-authored by senior teacher Erika Budson &
studio owner Ian O'Laughlin