in depth


Breathing 101

The Flow of Life

Breathing is the first thing we do when we come into life and the last thing we do upon leaving it. In between most of us are often not aware that we are breathing. For beginner yogis and yoginis, here is a very simple way to become aware of the breath. Remember, breathe through the nose unless otherwise specified. Do not force the breath.

1.  Lie down on your back on a cushioned, but firm surface. Bend your knees and tuck your tailbone by tipping your pelvis slightly forward. The arch at the small of the back will be pressed gently toward the floor. This action takes pressure away from the lower spine. A rolled pillow can be placed under the knees for extra comfort. To begin, let your arms rest at your sides.

2.  The inhalation will have three parts that flow smoothly from one into the other. When you begin to inhale, your belly will expand as your diaphragm moves downward, drawing air into the lowest part of your lungs. As you continue, your rib cage will expand and air will be pulled into the middle part of your lungs. Lastly, your collarbone will lift and air will fill the upper part of your chest.

3.  Slowly exhale from the top part of the lungs first. The mid-lungs are emptied next and the diaphragm moves upward as the last bit of air is emptied from the lungs. Now incorporate your arms. Coordinate the arm movements with those of the breath. Lift them up and overhead as you inhale. As you exhale the arms come to rest at the sides once more. Pause briefly. Then begin a new inhalation.

4.  Practice deep breathing several times a day. When you feel comfortable with this process, change to a sitting posture with a straight spine. Placing a pillow under the buttocks will help straighten the lower spine and relax the hips downward. Rest your hands on your knees. Take six to ten seconds for each inhalation and do the same for each exhalation. Pause for one or two seconds between breaths.

Taking the time to breathe thoroughly and consciously might be the most important step in creating a contented, stress-free life. So get into it! When you allow your breath to express your grace, everything flows.

Excerpted from the KISS Guide to Yoga 

Shakta Kaur Khalsa
Women’s yoga, health, and beauty
Author, Kundalini Yoga


Return to Article

Navigate Your Day with Grit & Grace

Get a Free Yogi Lifestyle e-Mint, Plus a Twice-Monthly Musing Delivered to Your Inbox