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Yoga and Breathing

Breathing can positively affect both physically and mentally.
 

Although breathing is an involuntary bodily function, you can learn to control your breathing to adjust how your body responds to external circumstances.
 
Your breath connects your mind and your body, so becoming more aware of your breath can positively affect you both physically and mentally. When you bring awareness to your breathing, you also give yourself time to turn your attention inward and focus on your thoughts and emotions.
 
Yoga, particularly Hatha Yoga, requires you to be constantly aware of your breath. As you breathe in your yoga practice, you exercise your diaphragm, abdominal muscles, heart, lungs and the muscles that connect your ribs. It is best to breathe through your nose to filter the air your body takes in. You should try to take at least a few minutes each day for breath awareness.
 
Prana
Prana is the life force and energy that sustains all living things. As you breathe, prana flows throughout the cells in your body, making you strong and healthy. The goal of breathing efficiently is to balance the prana in your body and open areas that may be blocked. Visualizing this flow of energy helps to focus your mind and improve your awareness of the flow of prana in your body.
 
Tips for Better Breathing
The best place to perform breathing exercises is in a location with lots of fresh, clean, warm air. Make sure you do not wear any clothing that constricts your breathing, such as pants with a tight waistline. If you have lung problems, such as asthma, or if you have heart disease, you should consult your doctor before you perform breathing exercises.
 
Breathing During Poses
Your breath is an important element of performing any yoga pose. Focusing on your breathing may sharpen your concentration, prevent injury and help you release further into a pose. If your breathing becomes strained or forced, it may be an indication that you are working too hard. When performing a yoga pose, make sure you never hold your breath. You should try to breathe evenly and deeply throughout the pose. In addition, you should try to match your breathing to the way you are moving in a pose. For example, you will usually inhale when you lift your arms, lengthen your body or bend backward. You will usually exhale when lowering your arms, bending forward or deepening a twist.
 
How do I know if I am breathing efficiently?
To ensure you are breathing efficiently, make sure your posture is correct, your spine is straight and your shoulders are relaxed. Proper posture helps ensure your lungs have the maximum amount of room to expand in your chest, which allows you to take full breaths. Taking full breaths maximizes the energy you bring into your body. You will also know if you are breathing efficiently when your breath is smooth and even. You may also feel your jaw relax, your shoulders drop away from your ears and your head and neck muscles relax.
 
Physical Benefits of Efficient Breathing
Breathing efficiently can relieve many ailments, including fatigue, sleep disorders, anxiety, dizziness, visual problems and chest problems. You can also keep your lung tissue elastic, tone your abdominal muscles and strengthen your immune system. As you breathe deeply, you increase your oxygen intake which boosts your energy, improves your metabolism and helps rid your body of toxins.
 
Mental Benefits of Efficient Breathing
Breathing efficiently is not only beneficial for your body, but can also clear your mind, improve your concentration and reduce stress. If you are upset or anxious, your breath may become quick and shallow. Through breathing exercises, you can control your breathing, which will restore a sense of calm.
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