Lesson Learned: Diaphragmatic Breathing

When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady.
But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life.
Therefore, one should learn to control the breath. Hatha Yoga Pradipika

the intention

To illustrate and educate students on the value of diaphragmatic breathing.

learning diaphragmatic Breathing

The very foundation of our yoga practice is to learn to breathe properly and completely.  We refer to this as breathing from our diaphragm or diaphragmatic breathing.  Diaphragmatic breathing allow us to slow down our heat rate, bring our blood pressure down, clear or minds and relax our muscles.  In fact, it’s the single most important thing we can do to offset everyday stress.

When we’re not breathing fully, our blood pressure goes up, heart rate is increased, our muscles get tense, and even our thinking becomes scattered.

Breathing properly is not just the foundation of yoga, it’s the foundation of life itself.  It’s the very first thing we do when we’re born, it’s the last thing we do when we die.  You can live a few weeks without food, but only a few minutes without breathing!

so let’s learn diaphragmatic breathing

  1. Begin is shavasana, feet about 12-24 inches apart, arms at your sides, palms up.
  2. Take a moment and leave any thought that do not belong right here in this room.  Sweep those thoughts outside of this room.  Leave your past and your future, stay right here in the present; don’t let go.  This is your time to look inward and take care of your well-being.  In doing so, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges that life throws your way.
  3. Close your eyes and focus on your breath.  Bring all your awareness to your breathing, breathing through the nose.  Notice if your breathing is shallow or noisy.  Is your inhale the same length as your exhale?
  4. Bring your focus to the space between your nostrils.  Feel the coolness of the inhale, the warmth of the exhale.  By focusing here, you’re starting to turn inside.
  5. The idea here is to slide into awareness of the breath.  Gently.  No forcing.  No pushing.  Just remain present to the coming and going of breath.  When the mind wanders off to work, family or responsibilities, simply bring it back to the breath.  Back to the breath.
  6. Now we’re going to make sure we’re breathing completely from our diaphragm.  First, soften the belly – consciously release any tension you may be holding there.  Then, put your right hand on your abdomen and put your left hand on your chest.  To breathe diaphragmatically, your right hand should be moving up and down to that your abdomen naturally extends out a bit on the inhale and goes back down on the exhale.  Your left hand should be relatively still.  Take 3-5 cycles of breath.  If only your left hand is moving, you’re chest-breathing and getting about one-third to one-half of the oxygen you’d be getting from breathing through your diaphragm.

If you’re not getting it today, just keep trying.  We’re going to breathe diaphragmatically from our nose throughout all yoga classes during centering and in postures.  By breathing through a posture, it helps us relax through it.

The deeper you breathe, the more relaxed and focused you become.  Never forget to breathe.

Every inhale bring in fresh prana or lifeforce.  Every exhale releases toxin and tensions of the day.

Being sensitive to the whole body, we breathe in, being sensitive to the whole body, we breathe out.

No striving, no forcing

Practice diaphragmatic breathing for 5 minutes a day, either in shavasana or in crocodile (lying on your belly).  Once you’re able to use the diaphragmatic breath to keep emotions in balance, you’ll immediately discover the value of breath awareness.

  1. Gently nudge your tight areas with breath.
  2. Diaphragmatic breathing is innate.  Babies do it without any training.  Later in life, when stress sneaks unto our consciousness, we forget how.
  3. Yoga is preparation for living.  it gives us a curiosity and enthusiasm to participate in life.
  4. The breath is the link between body and mind.

about the lesson learned series

Our blog series entitled Lesson Learned is designed from a teachers perspective. We see so much, feel so much and have learned so much. This is our sharing ground from the front of the room.

If you would like to read more from this series, please click here: http://yogasamatva.com/?s=lesson+learned

The light and love in me bows to the light and love in you.
Om. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.

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