There are some excellent yoga breathing exercises for beginners to learn.
In yoga it is essential to make sure that you are breathing correctly. Just as there are proper breathing meditation techniques, there are proper yoga breathing techniques too.
It is important to breathe properly whether you are sitting to a meditation session or engaged in an active form of yoga [READ: 28 yoga style and their benefits].
In this article I will explain how to breathe in yoga, and I will share the best yoga breathing exercises for beginners.
Let’s start with breathing during asana practice
Rules For Proper Yoga Breathing Technique
The proper breathing techniques for yoga depend on the state your body is in. Follow these tips and you will be breathing properly during yoga practice.
1: Exhale when bending forward
When we exhale it is easier to extend the depth of a fold. This is because when we exhale our lungs empty and the torso becomes smaller. Essentially this means that there is less of a mass between the upper and lower body. This makes it easier to bend forward. Also, exhaling has a calming effect and slow the heartrate down. That’s why it is best to exhale during poses that are calmer.
2: Also exhale for twists
Following on from the rule above, when the body contracts there is less room for breathing. That’s why we should exhale when we do a twist. By exhaling when we twist we help the body to relax, which makes it easier to extend the pose.
3: Inhale during backbends
It is easier for the body to fill the lungs when there is space between the upper and lower body. When you do a backbend you open up the space in the torso and the lungs, which makes it easier to fill the body with the breath. At the same time, when we inhale the heart rate increases, which produces a feeling of alert awareness. That’ why it is best to exhale on invigorating yoga poses.
Now let’s look at some of the best yoga breathing exercises for beginners
You can combine many of these exercises with meditation. Read my guide to yoga meditation styles for more on this.
1: Breath of Fire
This is one of the Bikram yoga breathing exercises (for beginners there is a simple version and there is a more advanced version too).
Breath of Fire is a warming and energizing yoga breathing technique that is an excellent way to get some energy flowing into your abs. I’ve written a complete guide to Breath Of Fire Here.
2: Lion’s Breathing
You will definitely have heard your yoga instructor telling you to take a Lion’s Breath. What does it mean?
Lion’s Breath is a simple yoga breathing exercise that is really easy to do and is often used in kids yoga classes because it’s fun. To do this yoga breathing exercise, all you have to do is take a deep inhale through your nose, lean your head back and breathe out through the mouth with your tongue out.
This is a fun yoga breathing exercise for beginners and it stimulate the flow of the breath through the body.
3: Skull Cleanser (Kapalbhati Breathing Exercise)
This is one of the best yoga breathing exercises for beginners to promote lymph circulation. It is actually one of the Ayurveda techniques [Read: Best Ayurveda Exercises For Beginners].
This is a fantastic yoga breathing technique to invigorate your energy levels. It’s actually very similar to Breath Of Fire with more emphasis given to the exhalation.
To do this exercise, first choose a mudra [RED: Ultimate Guide To Mudras].
Now follow the instructions below:
1: Sit comfortable
2: Place your hands in the mudra of your choice (see link above)
3: Breathe into your belly and observe the sensation of your breath filling your body
4: Inhale through the nose
5: Contract your lower belly to force your breath out
6: Immediately release the contraction. Allow your body to automatically breathe in again
7: Continue the process above at a rate of approximately 70 contractions per minute, then gradually increasing. If you feel faint stop immediately.
8: After each minute of exercise take one deep breath to relax.
4: Ujjayi Breath
This is one of the most popular yoga breathing techniques and it’s a style of breathing that you can do while you’re actually doing your yoga session. It has a very relaxing effect.
To do this technique you breathe both in and out through your nostrils. Take a deep breath in and then imagine that you are sucking through a straw (you can actually hear your breath like an ocean wave when you do this). Gradually take deeper inhalations and slower inhalations. This will relax both body and mind.
5: Bellows Breath
This is a brilliant yoga breathing exercise for beginner who want to boost their energy levels, especially during Power yoga. You can also use it any time you’re feeling bored or sluggish, to heighten your awareness.
To do this technique, place your hands in fists and raise them to the sky. Take an in-breath through your mouth. When you exhale, drop your elbow to the side of your body while vocalizing a “Ha” sound. This sound should feel like it’s arising from the very bottom of your lungs. Make it loud and proud!
Those are the best yoga breathing exercises for beginners. Next let’s look at some of the best meditation breathing exercises.