On average we breathe about 7 % of our lung capacity during the day. Considering our breath oxygenates our blood and then takes this on to all our vital organs, calms our heart rate, steadies our adrenal glands, helps us to focus AND calms the mind this is not much at all! In yoga we learn to use our lungs to their full potential, to evenly and smoothly inhale and exhale through our nose. When we consciously breathe in we can feel this life giving breath head right down to the lower lobes of the lungs feeling the stomach, the side ribs and the chest all expand as the diaphragm drops down to the pit of the stomach. When we consciously breathe out we feel the stomach, ribs and chest soften back down as the diaphragm lifts up emptying the lungs totally. Take a couple of deep breaths now and see how good it feels and where you can get the breath to descend to.
In many yoga practices ujayi breath is used. This is achieved by constricting the back of the throat so the breath makes an audible sound. It is the same area of the throat you would use to whisper. The reasons for this type of breathing are:
- It helps to gain control of the mind and attain focus.
- It helps to warm up the body from the inside.
- It encourages the breath to slow down and deepen.
- It is the start of understanding the vital importance of pranayama (control of our breath/ life force energy) in yoga, one of Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga.