Breathing is crucial in yoga; it’s crucial for life. I recently heard someone say “Breathing is not in the past, it is not in the future, it is only in the present.” When teaching a class, I am constantly reminding the students to breathe. Your breathe allows you to stay present and focus on the move. I don’t like to say you go “deeper” but staying with your breathe helps you go “within” – less mind wandering.
I’m sure we have all heard someone say “suck it in.” Contracting our abdomen does have it’s benefits. But as a whole, we are walking around holding our breathe. This leads to stressors on our body (especially in the shoulder and lower back).
How to Inhale: Through your nose, take a deep breathe ( for a count of 4 or 5). As you fill your lungs and belly, they will expand. Your stomach will rise (“stick out”). As you inhale, raise your chest out and up towards the sky. I also like to give the cue to slightly lift the chin.
How to Exhale: Exhaling through your nose (for a count of 4 or 5), Draw your navel in towards your spine, as if there is a vacuum suctioning your navel towards your back. Actively draw your shoulders down (visualize someone placing their hands on your shoulders helping to gently glide them down.)
Repeat this for a couple of rounds. Once you’re in a comfortable rhythm, try to to take in more air on your inhale (increase your count) or try lengthening your exhales (saying “Om” audibly or to yourself will help).