Pranayama in yoga means control of your breath. Pranayama breathing exercises can help improve your mental and physical health and for many it allows you to find a higher level of awareness. Yoga teacher training puts a lot of emphasis on breathing through yoga practice because it is essential for you to find the right harmony.
Different Types of Pranayama Breathing
Alternate Nostril Breathing
This type of exercise helps balance the energy that is flowing through your body. Most likely one of your nostrils is more dominant than the other and takes in more air than the other does but you can do exercises to change that and bring your energy to a centered balanced with alternate nostril breathing. Begin this by being in a seated position and put your middle and index fingers up onto the right side of your nose to block the right nostril. Slowly inhale and exhale a few times from your left nostril. Repeat with the other side and do at least three repetitions on each side. Yoga teaching focuses on bringing you to your most balanced center. This is one simple and small way to do so.
Murcha or “Retain” Pranayama
During this exercise in breathing you hold your breath as long as possible. Some yogis with experience can retain their breath until they begin to feel faint but beginners are cautioned to release their breath before they reach that point. To begin the exercise sit in a comfortable position and exhale completely before you inhale and drop your chin onto your chest. At this point hold your breath as long as you can before exhaling. Slowly, take a couple normal breaths and then repeat the exercise. This is a good way for yoga teaching to guide you to recognizing how long you can safely hold your breath.
Brahmari or “Bee” Breathing
This exercise is a technique used to quiet your mind and make your breath smooth and constant. It is very helpful for beginners and even the advanced practitioner. You begin by sitting comfortably with your lips closed and by breathing normally. As you exhale, you make a gentle sound in your throat similar to sounded like a buzzing bee. During the exhale, you will feel a vibration in your throat and mouth areas. Continue to do the buzzing breath for up to three minutes.
Bhastrika or “Bellows” Pranayama
Yoga teacher training guides your through this exercise and explains how it will deliver air into your body in a concentrated way. To begin this exercise you are sitting straight in a comfortable position and inhaling and exhaling with quite some force. Your breath should be coming from your diaphragm so that your stomach is moving but not the other parts of your upper body. Begin by taking four deep breaths and then breathe calmly and normally for a few minutes. Continue to repeat this four times and each time increases the number of breaths you take each time until your lungs feel tired.
Different types of breathing with yoga practice bring a variety of benefits. Some of the techniques help you relax while others give you extra support through certain postures. Yogis that practice different traditions approach pranayama in different ways.
With yoga teaching, some poses are more restorative and the goal is to relax your mind and body. You may use props which give you added physical support. Relaxation breathing in yoga teaching is also part of this style. As you inhale you should become mindful of your stomach inflating. During the exhale, you let all the air out feeling your stomach slowly collapse in toward the spine. During this style of breathing your lower abdomen is engaged while your upper body remains still. This kind of breathing takes longer than your normal breathing as you are allowing the air to completely fill and empty out of your lungs.
Deep breathing with yoga teacher training involves inhaling slowly through your nose while you are aware that your abdomen is inflating while it fills with oxygen. Once you are full of air you can hold it for a second before exhaling through your nose. The exhalation needs to occur at the same rate as the inhalation. This type of breathing can cleanse your lungs and reenergize your body.