When you can control your breathing, your nervous system can relax and respond with ease and efficiency. Controlled breathing can cause physiological changes that include:
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate.
- Reduced levels of stress hormones in the blood.
- Reduced lactic acid build-up in muscle tissue.
- Balanced levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
- Improved immune system functioning.
- Increased physical energy.
- Increased feelings of calm and wellbeing.
I have outlined some of my favourite breathing techniques I often use, not only during my yoga practice but also in my daily life.
Before you start any controlled breathwork, it’s a good idea to take a few relaxed breaths to bring yourself to the present moment. Give yourself 30 to 60 seconds per breathwork and then pause, releasing any control in the breath, before beginning again. If you are new to breathwork, aim for around 2-3 rounds, 3-5 rounds for an intermediate, and anywhere from 10 minutes or more if you are an advanced practitioner, or want to feel some potent effects.
1. THREE-PART BREATHING Viloma Pranayama
This slow, smooth process is super relaxing and is excellent for insomnia, anxiety, stress, and challenging situations. It encourages a nice stretch in the chest area, helps to calm the mind and soothes the muscles. It is a beautiful way to begin a restorative yoga practice or wind down for the evening.
HOW TO PRACTICE
Try and perform this technique by closing your mouth, and only breathing in and out through your nose
- Lie flat on your back, keeping your body in a straight line. Close your eyes and get comfortable, bend up your knees or place a pillow under your head.
- Take one hand to your belly and the other to your chest.
- Breathe normally and observe your breath.
- Take a deep breath and fill your lungs completely. Exhale completely.
- Breathe into the bottom or belly for 2-3 seconds and pause.
- Breathe into the middle of your side ribs for 2-3 seconds and pause.
- Breathe into the top of your chest, all the way up to your collar bones for 2-3 seconds and pause.
- Then completely exhale for 9 seconds and pause.
This practice completes one cycle of your THREE-PART BREATHING. Repeat as many times as you like. Once completed, stop and notice how you feel.
If you would like to see how it is performed, click here.