Yoga is often about breath, more than movement. Many new practitioners of Bikram and other types of yoga must learn how to properly breathe as their practice develops. Follow these steps to get it right.
Use the Two Methods of Breath for Bikram Yoga
- Study the two types of breath used during Bikram yoga: the 80-20 breath and the exhalation breath. Each is used during different poses and achieves different results within the body.
- Begin with the 80-20 breath. Take a deep breath. Lift your ribs. Engage and stretch your abdominal muscles, and then hold the breath as though you were about to go underwater. As you hold the posture, breathe normally, keeping your lungs 80 percent full. Exhale only the upper 20 percent of the breath and inhale into that upper 20 percent.
- Use the 80-20 breath for standing poses and back-bending poses. This breath builds energy and balance within each pose.
- Release air on an exhalation to move deeper into poses. The exhalation breath is as simple as it sounds. Once you move fully into the pose, breathing returns to normal.
- Apply the exhalation breath during forward-bending poses. It protects the lower back from strain, relaxes the body, assists in proper rotation of the pelvis over the thighs and compresses the digestive organs to aid in digestion.
- Train the organs of respiration to function properly. By utilizing the two breathing methods, you teach your abdominals to tone and stretch while you stand, which facilitates your posture.
Study the Importance of Breath in Yoga
- Go within. By focusing on your breathing, you disengage from the external world. Thoughts of work, family and obligation diminish, allowing you to connect with your true, inner self.
- Connect breath and movement. This mindfulness can help you move into and out of yoga postures in a safe, attentive way.
- Allow your breath to cleanse you. Deep breathing is more cleansing than our normal shallow breathing. Note how yoga breathing mimics the breathing of infants and young children while they sleep.
- Bring fresh, oxygenated blood into the body. Freshly oxygenated blood stems from healthy breathing patterns, allowing beneficial nutrients to enter the bloodstream.