In hatha yoga, the energy of the body and mind is directly influenced by a force known as “prana”. Prana is the vital life energy that exists in different degrees everywhere in the universe. One purpose of hatha yoga is to increase this life force inside the body and mind, to enhance a person’s well-being and energy, and eventually to lead one to higher states of meditation and clarity.
Breathing influences the mind and the emotions, and vice versa. Agitated breath can create an agitated mind, whereas a calm and focused breath can help us feel relaxed and at peace. Prana can also be influenced by the breath. In yoga, breathing techniques are used to increase prana and reduce obstructions in both the body and the mind. This practice is known as pranayama.
There are several different ways to breathe while practicing the yoga. If your breath feels strained, slow down or take a break. Breathing should never feel rushed or be painful. If you have allergies or asthma you may need to modify the breath and/or consult your physician. Find a knowledgeable teacher to help you with your breathing practice.
General Tips For Breathing
- Always inhale and exhale through your nose. This is the conscious cleansing yoga breath.
- Feel, listen and visualize the breath moving in your body.
- If you have allergies or sinus problems, you may try inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth until the sinuses clear.
- Long, slow breathing is optimal.
- In the beginning, the exhale usually feels easier and longer than the inhale, and should be emphasized.
- Focus on the releasing quality of exhale.
- Focus on the energizing quality of inhale.
- Do not take in too much air at the beginning of your inhale. Let the breath enter and exit the body evenly.