February 2022 – Pranayama (Breathing): Diaphragmatic Breath

Happy Sunday! We are doing a special series this month covering the 3rd-8th Limbs of Yoga. We just finished a week of special Asana (3rd Limb) focused practices examining different styles of Yoga you will likely find at your Yoga studio. This week we will cover Pranayama practices, and next we will focus on the upper limbs and meditation practices. We are going to review Diaphragmatic Breathing today, which is usually the first step for all Pranayama techniques.

multicolored lights floating down dark mountain river flowing under lit bridge full of crowd celebrating lunar new year - pranayama breath breathing Quote: I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. - Sheryl Sandberg
I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. – Sheryl Sandberg

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is Diaphragmatic Breath, a Pranayama Practice. Today we are going to try either standing in Tadasana, or laying down, rather than in a comfortable seat as we have done in the past. I love practicing Pranayama laying down in Shavasana, as I feel I can breathe deeper into my belly. We recommend incorporating this breath technique into your Asana practice, and bringing it forward into meditation! This is also a great calming technique for anxiety.

Diaphragmatic Breath

  • Start either standing in Tadasana or laying down in Shavasana. Begin by evaluating your current breath pattern. Place one hand on your chest, and the other on your belly. Breathe in and out, and notice when the hands resting on your belly and chest move to indicate expansion. You SHOULD use your diaphragm and breathe into your belly, so your belly expands on the inhale and contracts on the exhale. Most of us breathe shallowly into our chest only, and our belly hand never moves!  
  • Breathe in and make sure your belly expands, pushing your hand out as your entire torso fills with air
  • Breathe out, contracting the belly, making sure you empty the lungs completely
  • Continue breathing in to a full count of 6, and out to a full count of 6, using your diaphragm to fill your lungs with air, and contract the belly to empty lungs completely. Focus on keeping your chest hand fairly still, and using your diaphragm to breathe into your belly.

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Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Pranayama exercise! Did you try standing in Tadasana or laying down in Shavasana today? What did you think? Always remember, be kind!

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