Pranayama – Breathing – Day 7 – Yogic Breath – Three Part Breath

Good morning Yogis! Or actually perhaps good evening is more appropriate.. we are changing our post times to 2am Mountain Time along with our instagram posts to make it easier for Yogis overseas to stay on time with us! Daily e-mails and app notifications will not change. Other than this posting time change, today is a KISS (keep it super simple) Day! So, we are going to revisit Yogic Breath, a Pranayama Practice.

BONUS DAILY MEDITATION CHALLENGE

We are in the middle of a bonus Daily Meditation Challenge for October! For Pranayama Day today, try our Breath-Focused Meditation with our Three Part Breath Below!

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is Yogic Breath, a Pranayama Practice. Most of us have tried diaphragmatic breathing, which is part one of this three-part breath. 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 in a comfortable seat 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.

Yogic Breath / Three Part Breath

  • PART 1 – Belly: Diaphragmatic breathing is the first part of three part breath! Make sure you complete 10 full inhalations and exhalations, counting to 6 for each inhale and exhale.
  • PART 2 – Ribs: After 10 complete belly breaths, after expanding into your belly – try expanding your rib cage outwards on inhales and allowing to compress on exhales.
  • PART 3 – Chest: After 10 full inhale and exhalations with rib cage expansion – first fill your belly, then expand rib cage, then try allowing your clavicle (collar bone) to rise as you fill and empty your lungs completely for another 10 breaths.

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Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Pranayama exercise! Do you incorporate diaphragmatic breathing like this, or other Pranayama into your Asana practice? Have you tried this full three-part breath? Do you have another Pranayama practice you particularly enjoy? Always remember, be kind!

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Pranayama – Breathing – Day 6 – Bhastrika Pranayama – Bellows Breath

Good Morning Yogis! Today is Pranayama Day! We celebrated the first day of fall last week, and the days are getting shorter and cooler. So, today we will learn a warming and energizing new technique – Bhastrika Pranayama or Bellows’ Breath!

We are in the middle of a daily Asana practice challenge for September! Please see our Asana Styles page for links to youtube videos for various Yoga Styles. For Pranayama Day today, I recommend a gentle morning Hatha class, perhaps after trying out this new technique!

I usually practice with the Yoga Studio App rather than streaming services, so I can download my favorite classes and use in areas without Wifi or phone signal. Today I am doing one of my favorites – Beginner AM (20 Minute), which I modify with more advanced versions of poses including full side plank, standard extended side angle, and lowering slowly from plank to Chaturanga Dandasana / Yoga Push-Up… I am still working arm strength to do the Intermediate version of this class. I typically practice Asana most consistently in the morning, and this is my favorite morning series! PS I keep Ocean for the background sound in my Yoga Studio App, to help remind me to use Ujjayi Pranayama or Ocean Breath!

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is Bhastrika Pranayama, an energizing Pranayama Practice. We will start diaphragmatic breathing, which is part one of this breath. Please note this is a technique that should be practiced on its own, NOT during Asana practice! This Pranayama is best first thing in the morning, or if you need an energy boost during the day. Also, this technique is best on an empty stomach, or at least a couple hours after eating!

This is a great technique to watch and follow along – click here for video instructions!

Diaphragmatic Breath

  • Start 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.

Bhastrika Pranayama / Bellows Breath

  • After 5-10 full Diaphragmatic Breaths, close your mouth and begin the Bellows Breath:
  • Exhale forcefully through the nose, followed by inhaling forcefully through the nose.
    • These are quick forceful breaths, about one second for each inhale and one second for each exhale.
    • Use your diaphragm to initiate this breath, so your belly moves in and out quickly with your breath. Note that due to the speed, your breath will likely only reach your chest, not your belly.
    • Keep head, neck, and shoulders still throughout this technique.
  • Complete a round of 10 Bellows Breaths.
  • Move back to Diaphragmatic Breathing for 5-10 complete breaths. If you are getting dizzy, just stick with one round.
  • Complete a second round of 20 Bellows Breaths.
  • Move back to Diaphragmatic Breathing for 10 complete breaths.
  • Complete a third round of 30 Bellows Breaths.
  • Do not practice more than 3 rounds or 60 Bellows Breaths at a time

Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Pranayama exercise! Have you tried this breath technique? How many rounds did you complete? Do you have another Pranayama practice you particularly enjoy? Always remember, be kind!

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Pranayama – Breathing – Day 5 – Bikram Pranayama – Hot Yoga Breath

Good Morning Yogis! Today is Pranayama Day! We are in the middle of a daily Asana practice challenge for September, so we will learn a moving Pranayama technique common in all kinds of Hot Yoga Classes, that originated in Bikram studios. This breath technique is part of the opening in the classic Bikram series.

Please see our Asana Styles page for links to youtube videos for various Yoga Styles. For Pranayama Day today, I recommend a Hot Yoga Style class, which will include this breath technique!

I usually practice with the Yoga Studio App rather than streaming services, so I can download my favorite classes and use in areas without Wifi or phone signal. Today I am doing one of my favorites – Beginner AM (20 Minute), which I modify with more advanced versions of poses including full side plank, standard extended side angle, and lowering slowly from plank to Chaturanga Dandasana / Yoga Push-Up… I am still working arm strength to do the Intermediate version of this class. I typically practice Asana most consistently in the morning, and this is my favorite morning series! PS I keep Ocean for the background sound in my Yoga Studio App, to help remind me to use Ujjayi Pranayama or Ocean Breath!

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is Bikram’s Pranayama a moving Pranayama Practice used in all kinds of Hot Yoga classes. We will start diaphragmatic breathing, which is part one of this breath. I am sure you will have tried this Pranayama technique if you have practiced any kind of style at a Hot Yoga studio – this breath feels particularly great in a hot and humid environment.

This is a great technique to watch and follow along – click here for video instructions!

Diaphragmatic Breath

  • Start 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.

Bikram Pranayama / Hot Yoga Breath

  • Clasp your hands together, and bring your fists under your chin with your thumbs at your throat. Squeeze your elbows together.
  • Inhale through your nose into your belly, and allow elbows to float up, keeping your chin in place.
  • Let your your chin float up and exhale, as you squeeze your elbows together.
  • Continue the cycle – allow your chin float down and elbows to float up on your inhale.

Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Pranayama exercise! Do you incorporate Pranayama into your Asana practice? Have you tried Hot Yoga or this breath technique? Do you have another Pranayama practice you particularly enjoy? Always remember, be kind!

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Pranayama – Breathing – Day 4 – Vilona Pranayama – Retained Breath

Good Morning Yogis! Today is Pranayama Day! We are in the middle of a daily Asana practice challenge for September.

Please see our Asana Styles page for links to youtube videos for various Yoga Styles. For Pranayama Day today, I recommend a Hatha or Iyengar Style class, making sure to monitor your alignment, and perhaps try today’s new breathing technique (variation 3) when poses are held for an extended time!

I usually practice with the Yoga Studio App rather than streaming services, so I can download my favorite classes and use in areas without Wifi or phone signal. Today I am doing one of my favorites – Beginner AM (20 Minute), which I modify with more advanced versions of poses including full side plank, standard extended side angle, and lowering slowly from plank to Chaturanga Dandasana / Yoga Push-Up… I am still working arm strength to do the Intermediate version of this class. I typically practice Asana most consistently in the morning, and this is my favorite morning series! PS I keep Ocean for the background sound in my Yoga Studio App, to help remind me to use Ujjayi Pranayama or Ocean Breath!

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is Vilona Pranayama or Retained Breath, a Pranayama Practice. We will start diaphragmatic breathing, which is part one of this breath. Vilona Pranayama translates as “against the wave” and is a retained breath technique. We recommend incorporating this breath technique into your Asana practice if poses are held for an extended period! Or, you can use this cooling breath technique to calm down after an active workout, or to help with anxiety.

Diaphragmatic Breath

  • Start 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.

Vilona Pranayama / Retained Breath

  • VARIATION 1 – Retain before Inhale: Diaphragmatic breathing is the first part of this breath! Make sure you complete 10 full inhalations and exhalations, counting to 6 for each inhale and exhale. Then, hold your breath for a count of 6 before each inhale. Your breath pattern will be Inhale 6, Exhale 6, Hold 6, Inhale 6…
  • VARIATION 2 – Retain before Exhale: Diaphragmatic breathing is the first part of this breath! Make sure you complete 10 full inhalations and exhalations, counting to 6 for each inhale and exhale. Then, hold your breath for a count of 6 before each exhale. Your breath pattern will be Inhale 6, Hold 6, Exhale 6, Inhale 6…
  • VARIATION 3 – Retain before Inhale and Exhale: Diaphragmatic breathing is the first part of this breath! Make sure you complete 10 full inhalations and exhalations, counting to 6 for each inhale and exhale. Then, hold your breath for a count of 6 before each inhale AND exhale. Your breath pattern will be Inhale 6, Hold 6, Exhale 6, Hold 6, Inhale 6…

Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Pranayama exercise! Do you incorporate Pranayama into your Asana practice? Have you tried retained breath? Do you have another Pranayama practice you particularly enjoy? Always remember, be kind!

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Pranayama – Breathing – Day 3 – Yogic Breathing – Three Part Breath

Doing our 30 Day Challenge? Click here for today’s post!

Before we get into twisted and modified versions of poses in the detailed breakdown of the Sun Salutations Asana Series discussed yesterday, we will take two days to cover the remaining 8 Limbs of Yoga.

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is Yogic Breath, a Pranayama Practice. Most of us have tried diaphragmatic breathing, which is part one of this three-part breath. 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 in a comfortable seat 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.

Yogic Breath / Three Part Breath

  • PART 1 – Belly: Diaphragmatic breathing is the first part of three part breath! Make sure you complete 10 full inhalations and exhalations, counting to 6 for each inhale and exhale.
  • PART 2 – Ribs: After 10 complete belly breaths – after expanding into your belly, try expanding your rib cage outwards on inhales and allowing to compress on exhales.
  • PART 3 – Chest: After 10 full inhale and exhalations with rib cage expansion – first fill your belly, then expand rib cage, then try allowing your clavicle (collar bone) to rise as you fill and empty your lungs completely for another 10 breaths.

Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Pranayama exercise! Do you incorporate diaphragmatic breathing like this, or other Pranayama into your Asana practice? Have you tried this full three-part breath? Do you have another Pranayama practice you particularly enjoy? Always remember, be kind!

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Pranayama – Breathing – Day 1 – Ujjayi Pranayama – Ocean Breath

Good morning Yogis! It is Pranayama Day today, the Fourth Limb of Yoga. Today we will be learning Ujjayi (oo-JAW-yee) Pranayama. This is literally translated from Sanskrit as Victorious Breath, but is commonly referred to as Ocean Breath due to the sound of this technique. This is another great cooling and calming breathing technique, and is ideal during Asana practice. You may have learned this in Yoga class before, especially if you have attended a Hot Yoga class.

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is trying Ujjayi Pranayama or Ocean Breathing.

Start with Diaphragmatic Breathing for 3 full inhales and exhales.

Open your mouth and inhale and exhale through your mouth. Contract your throat to slightly say “HA” on the exhales. Keep this light contraction in your throat so you slightly say “SA” on the inhales. You will start noticing the ocean sound from which this technique gets its name.

Now, close your mouth. Inhale and exhale through your nose, while keeping this contraction in your throat to keep the ocean sound continuing on both inhales and exhales. As you become comfortable with this breathing technique, try your Asana practice with this Ujjayi Pranayama.

Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Ujjayi Pranayama exercise! Have you ever tried this technique as a standalone or during your Asana practice? Always remember, be kind!

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Pranayama – Sitali – Cooling Breath

Good morning Yogis! We are taking a short break from our regularly scheduled breakdown of the poses in our Sun Salutations Asana Series, to celebrate the Summer Solstice! Since it is likely very warm today and will stay warm for the next few months, we will kick off the first day of summer with Sitali (Sih-TA-lee) which literally translates from Sanskrit as cooling or soothing, a cooling Pranayama / Breath exercise.

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is trying out a cooling breath Pranayama Practice. We recommend trying this after drinking water so your mouth is moist, and as a stand-alone technique when you need to cool down!

Sitali Pranayama – Cooling Breath

Start with Diaphragmatic Breathing for 10 full inhales and exhales.

Next, open your mouth into a small o. Stick out your tongue a bit more than half way, and roll your tongue. Picture either an unfurling leaf, which helped inspire sages to develop this breathing technique, or a hard taco shell, which is probably a more familiar and descriptive image.

Breathe in deeply through your MOUTH, drawing the air over your tongue almost like you were using a straw.

Close your mouth and put your tongue flat on the roof of your mouth, and breathe OUT through your NOSE keeping your mouth closed.

Form an o with your mouth at the end of your exhale, and curl your tongue outside your mouth again for your next INHALE. Continue this for 10-20 full breaths.

If you want to continue, keep your mouth closed to return to diaphragmatic breathing for 10 full breaths before repeating. You may continue this cooling breath exercise for 10-15 minutes. I recommend doing Pranayama on its own whenever you need to cool down, or after a vigorous Asana practice. I would not recommend practicing this particular breathing technique during or before Asanas or other exercise.

Make sure to drink plenty of water before and after this cooling breath. Cooling breath can leave you with an especially dry mouth if you are not hydrated.

Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Sitali Pranayama exercise! Have you ever tried this or another cooling breath? Always remember, be kind!

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Pranayama – Breathing – Intro – Diaphragmatic Breathing

Before we get into detailed breakdown of the Asana Series poses from yesterday, we will take two days to cover the remaining 8 Limbs of Yoga – Pranayama or breath, and the Upper Limbs.

Pranayama (PRA-na-YA-muh) literally translates from Sanskrit to English as Energy (Prana) Expansion (Ayam). The most common translations of Pranayama are breath or breathing. The literal translation, along with the fact that breathing is its own Limb of Yoga like Asanas / poses or Yamas / ethics, should indicate how important breath is for Yogis. Most of us who have attended classes at Yoga Studios learn quickly that Yoga is more than exercise, and Breath is both a focus and frequently its own portion of studio Yoga classes. 

I wanted to cover Pranayama and Diaphragmatic Breath before getting to the detail of each Asana, because breathing is as much a part of Sun Salutations as the poses themselves! If you do not typically focus on breathing during your Yoga practice, please consider setting Breath as your intention at the start of your next session.

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is Diaphragmatic Breath, a Pranayama Practice. We recommend incorporating this Diaphragmatic breath into your Asana practice, and bring it forward into meditation!

Diaphragmatic Breath

When I first started practicing Yoga, I was shocked to learn I was breathing “wrong.” This shallow chest breathing seems to be the American Way – try for yourself! Put 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!  

Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, as you did in the breathing test above.

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.

This is the first part of Three-Part or Yogic Breath!

Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Pranayama exercise! Do you incorporate diaphragmatic breathing like this, or other Pranayama into your Asana practice? Do you have another Pranayama practice you particularly enjoy? Always remember, be kind!

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