I was privileged to witness one human’s first breath and another’s last. God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7 It is that breath that not only sustains us but has the power to bring calm and peace to our body and mind.
There are many types of breathing techniques that are taught in yoga. The easiest to practice is equal breath through the nose. Breathing through the nose is the most efficient way to bring oxygen into the body. The nose also cleans and warms the air before it reaches our lungs. Mouth breathing has been known to cause trigger points in the digastric muscles which causes pain in the teeth and when swallowing. Nostril breathing also makes it impossible to hyperventilate so you are less likely to push your body past your present physical ability.
Use the breath as a tool to breathe out negative thoughts and breathe in positive ones. We have 66,000 thoughts each day and 80% are negative, 98% of those negative thoughts were the same ones we had yesterday and last week. Do not allow negative words spoken over you to be your truth. Let them go and repeat the positive truths until the negative thoughts come up less and less.
Another great breathing technique is 4-7-8 breath.
Excerpt from Dr. Weil:
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
Note that with this breathing technique, you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it, but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension or stress. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.
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At Ignite Yoga, we believe that yoga is for everyone–For people of all ages and all walks of life.