Sports FAQ
Home / Yoga

How do I breathe?

ahimsa2010-07-04 17:03:01 +0000 #1
Excuse this very ignorant post but I'm an absolute yoga newbie.

I've just started reading 'Asana Pryanayama Mudra Bandha' and am working on my first few Asanas.

My problem is... I don't know how to breathe!

I remember when I was younger a school teacher told us that when you breathe in, your stomach should go out but mine seems to go in. Whenever I try to expand my stomach, I can only take very short breaths. Also, my breaths are quite short in general... is this normal? I eat healthily and am not overweight but admittedlty, I don't do any exercise.

So any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 17:07:31 +0000 #2
Welcome Ahimsa.

Did you search the forum or read this: thread yet?

There are many components to breath in yoga practice. Some of them apply to asana and other apply to pranayama. However by the way you've phrased your question AND the fact you mention the belly I'll take your question as an anatomical or mechanical question.

Here is my answer and it's rationale. Both are important.

In yoga, generally speaking, the inhalation does not expand the belly. Though I will say that some do it. The belly may rise and fall slightly as it is in relationship with the rest of the body.

Why? The belly is a hydraulic system while the lungs are a pneumatic system. One of for pumping liquid and the other for pumping air/oxygen/carbon dioxide. So in respiration the breath remains in it's home which is the lungs - between the collarbones and the diaphragm.

Does this help you?
Pandara2010-07-04 17:42:07 +0000 #3

Welcome to the Forum and to yoga, may you enjoy your journey. I am not going to say anything about the breathing, so much has be said about it and as IA points out there are many threads with advise on breathing.

I would like to comment on the book you are reading. That title of Swami Satyananda is a wonderful and very comprehensive book and I shall recommend it immediately. However, it is not the title I would recommend for a total newbie to yoga to start off reading as an introduction to yoga. Personally I think the book has been written with more advanced yogis and teachers in mind.

Do you have a teacher? Why not ask him/her what you have asked here about breathing, he/she will be able to explain and you have the advantage of actually seeing and experiencing it first hand.

Good luck.
siva2010-07-04 18:06:31 +0000 #4
Hello Ahimsa,

It's because you're breathing with your ribs and shoulders. You have to first practice exhaling completely.

You want to expell all the air in the lungs by contracting the abdominal wall, pulling it inward, the navel into the spine, squeezing it all the way down to the mula. This pushes the diaphram upward into the thoracic cavity and air out of the lungs. Then, when the abdomen is released, it "goes out" with the inhalation, being aided by gravity. This is what's called "passive inhalation."

Very often, people work to lift the ribs and shoulders with inhalation (this is what pulls the abdomen in), and let them fall with exhalation. This also, is the cause of most common neck/shoulder tension.

Passive Inhalation is just the opposite. You want to be working to push all the air out, completely, so that naturally, it comes back in with release. This is a critical threshould to reach in a yogic life.

Just something else to observe.





Other posts in this category