I’m assuming many of you read the title and thought something along the line of “I know how to breathe. I’ve been doing it my whole life.” Well you’ve probably been doing it wrong (at least I was). It may seem hard to do something you don’t even need to think about, but if you place one of your hands on your belly-button and take a deep breath it becomes clear. Now, notice: did you breathe from your nose; did your stomach expand; did the breath fill your body? If you answered no to any of these questions, in terms of practicing yoga, you breathe wrong (sorry to break it to you).
In yoga, breathing guides movements so it is important that it is done properly. Breathing through your nose prepares the air prior to reaching your lungs. I understand this may be impossible to do if you suffer from allergies. If that’s the case, you may have no choice in the matter. For those who can, a fun fact about breathing in from your nose is that each nostril does not take in an equal amount of air and typically they switch in dominance about every hour and a half. To test this, simply cover one nostril and breath from the other alternating between the two. Moving on, allowing your stomach to expand stabilizes you and releases tension on your upper body. Lastly, allowing yourself breathe to fill your body may be a harder concept to grasp. When you breathe, you should feel three “diaphragms” open. The most obvious is your actual diaphragm, but before this you have the “vocal diaphragm,” and after there is the “pelvic diaphragm.” When you breathe, focus your concentration to these areas to see if you can feel the movement in each region.
Overall, this may seem new -and slightly absurd – but it really makes a difference in helping relax your body as fully as possible.