As I stated in the previous post, abdominal breathing is a very basic form of breathing for humans. This is how infants breath but later ‘forget’ as they grow. Abdominal breathing has the benefit of letting more air to enter the body and use more of the lungs for better use of the air. In yoga, the air holds the living force energy called prana, and by breathing consciously and correctly we can increase the flow of prana in the body and control it. This has the benefit of higher energy levels and better physical and mental health.
The basic exercise for abdominal breathing is as follows:
In the beginning you may put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. This way you may have a better feedback of what you breath with (belly or chest). The hand on your belly should rise higher than the one on the chest when you do abdominal breathing.
- Take a slow and deep breath through your nose. Take the air into the abdomen first, then into the chest
- Hold the breath for several seconds
- Slowly exhale through the nose or mouth. Exhale completely by pushing the belly in to release all air from the lungs
- Repeat several times as you feel comfortable
- Perform the breathing in a relaxed manner. One of the benefits of controlled breathing is that it helps to relax the mind.
- Don’t strain yourself when inhaling or holding the breath.
- The exhalation should be at least as long and inhalation and can be longer up to 2 times.
- Start with only several repetitions and increase the length of the exercise as you train more.
- As you exercise more, you will be able to perform the exercise slower, taking more time to breath in, hold the breath longer and breathing out slower. Generally, slower is better, but again: don’t force yourself, do what’s comfortable to you.
For more information on breathing you might read about yoga breathing or consult a yoga teacher.