by Marian Thornley

The enquiries into the nature of your own breathing pattern that you may have tried in the last month are an excellent introduction for the beginner.

But even experienced yogis can benefit from going back to basics every now and then. Nearly all of us constrict our breathing in one way or another. In fact, there are very many different ways in which we can do this, and hinder the flow of breath through our bodies.

But even experienced yogis can benefit from going back to basics every now and then. Nearly all of us constrict our breathing in one way or another. In fact, there are very many different ways in which we can do this, and hinder the flow of breath through our bodies.
Physical or emotional traumas can lead to an unconscious tightening or holding of abdomen, diaphragm or other part of the respiratory system. Not to mention tight jeans and the pressure on us all to look thin!
So, you may be asking, how exactly should we breathe? If you noticed any of the following while you were testing your breath, then you have the basics of a healthy breath.

First of all, with your hands over the navel area: when you inhaled this area should have expanded outwards, and retracted back as you exhaled. If the rest of the chest area stayed relatively still while the abdomen moved, this is a good sign. You may have noticed a little expansion of the rib cage, this is ok too. If the abdomen expanded outwards and the ribs gently opened on inhalation, you are using your primary respiratory muscles in the way they are designed to be used.

There should have been only a very faint movement in the shoulder, neck and head areas. If you did not notice any movement there, don’t worry, its quite normal.

  • Was the length of the exhale the same as the inhale or very slighter longer? If so, that’s great.
  • Did you notice a tiny pause after both exhalation and inhalation? If you did, that is also normal and part of a healthy breathing pattern.
  • Did you notice at the end that you felt calm and relaxed? That is the effect of a simple breathing practice where all we do is to listen to the natural breath. Amazing, isn’t it?

I will leave you with a quotation from the well loved yogi, T Krishnamacharya: “Breath is central to Yoga, because it is central to life… and yoga is about life”
In the next article, some simple and easy tips and techniques for strengthening and improving the breath.e on us all to look thin!

Marian is a qualified yoga teacher, although she is not currently teaching.  She is particularly interested in the use of yoga as a tool for health and healing.

marianthornley@hotmail.co.uk

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