Written by Irene Lomer
One of the unusual things about breathing is that it’s something that happens automatically, but is also something that you can control. We need to breathe to stay alive and for the majority of the time this happens unconsciously.
But it’s also something that you can control
By bringing our focus towards our breathing in physical yoga and through specific breathing techniques or pranayama, we are able to not only observe our breathing patterns but also change the way we breathe to be more efficient and free. When our breathe is more controlled we can change feelings of discomfort and stress.
4-Week Course: Breathing in Life, Yoga & Pranayama
Want to learn more about our 2 hour workshop and 4 week course on breathing in life, yoga and pranayama?
Watch our teacher Irene Lomer explain what you can learn from attending these trainings on breathing in life, yoga and pranayama at Tula.
Starting » Thursdays 3 November 2022
Breathing in Life
If you watch a baby, young child or even your pet cat or dog breathing you’ll notice that they breathe with their entire body. They aren’t breathing shallowly in and out through their mouth or nose. Instead you’ll see their entire body moving with their breath.
Over time, as we experience stress and discomfort we can develop more restricted and less efficient breathing patterns. These breathing patterns can vary from person to person and are often unconscious.
You’ll also probably notice that as you feel strong emotions it also has an impact on our breathing. For example, if you are feeling stressed or angry you might notice your breath starts to become quicker and more shallow, your belly becomes tense and breathing restricted to your chest. While if you’re upset you might find that your inhale becomes very short and your exhale strong and sharp.
Only by being aware of something are we able to change it.
Therefore, it is helpful to learn how to do short breath awareness practices at different points during the day to become more aware of your own breathing patterns. Because, by being aware of your breathing patterns you can change your breathing. This can modify the emotions that caused the breathing pattern in the first place.
Breathing in Yoga
As you probably know, breathing is an essential part of yoga. We could even say that there is no yoga practice without having awareness on your breath.
The basic principle of breathing freely, slowly and deeply while practicing yoga is simple. But to actually do an entire yoga practice while breathing consciously, free and deep is something that’s very hard to do in practice.
Bringing specific focus to breathing steadily and slowly in even the most challenging yoga postures like sun salutations, backbends and twists requires practice. But it also brings many benefits.
These benefits include feeling relaxed and calm during and after your yoga practice. Becoming better at the yoga postures and able to stay in them longer. And in general having an improved breath capacity both on and off your yoga mat.
Breathing Techniques, Pranayama
Formal breathing techniques—also known as pranayama—involve intentionally changing the way you breathe. These are typically done sitting or lying in stillness so that you can focus in on your breath.
Pranayama involve changing the length of your inhale, exhale and/or pauses between your breath. With the idea to physiologically improve your overall breathing capabilities and psychologically calm your mind.
Pranayama breathing exercises are useful to support your physical yoga practice, meditation techniques and improve your overall breathing patterns outside of yoga.
It can be helpful to focus at one pranayama practice at a time and seeing if you can practice it regularly to really understand the technique and get the most benefits from it.
How to Practice
There are many ways that you can start to practice and bring awareness to your breathing in life, yoga and pranayama.
If you’d like to receive more guidance on how to practice these in a structured and consistent way we’d love to see you in either our 2 hour workshop (which is free for Tula members) or in our 4 week course where you’ll really get the chance to work in a small group to deepen your understanding and practice of breathing in life, yoga and pranayama.