What are examples of yoga breathing exercises

Breathing exercises

How do you breathe properly?

In order for our body to be able to use the air we breathe in, the oxygen it contains must be brought through deep breathing to the outer areas of the lungs where the gas exchange takes place. The best way to do this is to use a combination of abdominal and chest breathing.

Abdominal breathing

When breathing in the abdomen, the diaphragm contracts and moves downwards, creating a suction in the chest and allowing the lungs to expand. Air flows in.

Chest breathing

When breathing through the chest, the intercostal muscles lift the ribs. This leads to an increase in volume of the chest and a negative pressure, which also pulls the air into the lungs.

Breathing exercises: counting and sniffing

Counting breaths is a simple exercise to become aware of your own breathing. For example, inhale in a controlled manner for four seconds and exhale again for four seconds and increase the time without exerting yourself too much. Pay attention to the tension and relaxation of the diaphragm and muscles and the expansion of the lungs.

Another useful breathing exercise is sniffing several times during the inhalation phase.

Breathing exercises for relaxation

Breathing exercises from yoga not only improve the perception of the breathing process, but also help with relaxation. Breathe in deeply and slowly, hold your breath briefly, and then breathe out evenly.

With so-called alternating breathing, the right nostril is first closed with the right thumb and inhaled through the left nostril for eight seconds. Now both nostrils are closed with the thumb and ring finger and the breath is held for four seconds. The right nostril is reopened while the left is kept closed and the lungs completely emptied over eight seconds.

Now inhale again through the opened right nostril (the left one remains closed). Then hold your breath for four seconds with your nose closed on both sides and then exhale through your left nostril. The goal is to increase the time it takes to hold and exhale air.

Breathing exercise to fall asleep

An effective breathing technique for falling asleep is the American doctor Andrew Weil's 4-7-8 breathing technique. It is based on the breathing exercises of yoga teaching. To do this, inhale through your nose and count to four. Hold your breath for over seven seconds. The exhalation is through the mouth and should last eight seconds. You will feel a slight rustling when the air flows out. The breathing exercise should be repeated several times and performed regularly.

Breathing exercises in case of shortness of breath

Two helpful breathing therapy exercises for those with shortness of breath are the lip brake and the driver's seat. In order to keep the lungs dilated when you exhale despite the decreasing negative pressure, the lips are pressed together slightly with the lip brake, as if you were exhaling against resistance. The exhaled air accumulates in the lungs and keeps the bronchi open.

In the driver's seat you sit on a chair, bend your upper body forward and support yourself with your hands or elbows on your knees. In this way, areas of the chest muscles can be better mobilized and help with breathing.

Breathing exercises to strengthen the respiratory muscles

In addition to regular endurance sports and strength exercises to strengthen the abdominal and chest muscles, breathing techniques from yoga can also strengthen the respiratory muscles. In fire breathing, rapid exhalation is forced by the contraction of the abdominal muscles, so that the inhalation is more passive due to the subsequent relaxation. Repeat the process about 20 times. At the beginning you should perform fire breathing very slowly and in a controlled manner so that you get a feel for the breathing process. Later, you can speed up the process and increase the number of repetitions.

Holotropic breathing

You can read more about this sometimes controversial method of transpersonal psychology in the article Holotropic Breathing.