When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still.” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika
This is going to sound weird but seriously, I love breathing (always), (but) especially in my yoga practice! As both a yoga student and yoga instructor, I’ve grown to appreciate the benefits of a solid pranayama (aka: yoga breathing exercises) practice.
The quality of our breath affects us on almost every level from our nervous system and body chemistry, to our mental and emotional state. This means that every other aspect of our lives is affected by the quality of our breath. Pranayama can reduce mental tension, help us to focus, increase the body’s energy level, and calm and strengthen the mind. I don’t know about you, but personally, I need help help in all those areas! And while it might seem like a no brainer to simply inhale and exhale, there are definitely ways for us to consciously improve how we breathe both on and off the mat.
One of the most common breathing exercises is Diaphragmatic Breathing (breathing in and out of the diaphragm as opposed to your chest). It’s a simple practice and helps slow down the heart rate, lower blood pressure, clear the mind, relax the muscles and reduce stress. Naturally it’s one of the first techniques I like to teach to a new class, and is also a great exercise to practice on your own at any time.