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Don't Forget to Breathe
On October 15, 2012 in
We all have situations when taking a deep breath can help de-escalate a situation, or just make us feel better. Deep breathing is easy and accessible to everyone. Here are my favorite three breathing exercises:
1. Belly Breathing
Place one hand on your belly, just below your navel. As you inhale through your nose, expand your belly as if you were blowing up a big balloon full of air until your lungs are filled to capacity. Pause for one second and then exhale slowly, smoothly, and completely, deflating the air out of your belly through your nose or mouth. Pause for one second and then start your round again and repeat four more times for a total of five breaths.
Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is a simple exercise that helps you activate your diaphragm and breathe more deeply and slowly. During diaphragmatic breathing you use less energy, require less oxygen, and breathe more easily. This breathing technique also strengthens your abdominal muscles and diaphragm.
2. Three-Part Breathing
Inhale through your nose in three parts, pausing at three different levels of the body, and exhale all the air out in reverse order without pausing. Begin to inhale deeply through your nose to the level of your navel. Pause for one second. Draw in more breath and let your air expand to the level of your sternum. Pause for one second. Draw in the rest of your air and inhale to the level of your clavicle. Pause for one second. Now, exhale all the air out in reverse order through your nose or mouth, slowly without pausing. Repeat four more times for a total of five breaths.
The purpose of the three-part breath exercise is to help you unlearn the unhealthy pattern of taking in slow sips of breath through your nose or mouth. This breathing is deep and full. It ventilates all of the lobes in your lungs, allowing for an adequate exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, which in turn helps dispel anxiety and induce a state of calmness.
3. Alternate Nostril Breathing
This deep breathing may feel a little awkward initially, but it will become easier quickly with practice. Take your right hand and fold your index and middle fingers in, extending your right thumb and your right ring and right baby fingers. Bring your right thumb to your right nostril and lightly hold it there as you place your right ring finger lightly on your left nostril.
Start with an inhale on the left. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Pause. Close the left nostril with your right ring finger and exhale through the right nostril. Pause. Inhale through your right nostril. Pause. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril. Repeat four more rounds for a total of five breaths (on each side). If you get mixed up on the different sides, it is not a big deal. Just make sure not to hold both sides of your nostrils at once, so you can get air in and out!
Breathing in through your left nostril will access the right “feeling” hemisphere of your brain, and breathing in through your right nostril will access the left “thinking” hemisphere of your brain. Consciously alternating your breath between either nostril will allow you to activate and access your whole brain.
Try these three breathing exercises at home and share your experiences in the comment box below!
By Diane Sieg
With a career that has taken her from the chaos of the emergency room to the calm of her yoga mat,Diane Sieg first discovered yoga as a great source of physical and emotional healing during a personal crisis and has been practicing ever since. Today, as an Anusara-Inspired yoga teacher, professional speaker, published author, retreat facilitator and life-saving coach, Diane empowers people to live their most authentic life, both on and off the mat. Her teaching style is a calm intensity with strong alignment based principles. Diane is the creator of
30 Days to Grace: A Daily Practice to Achieve Your Ultimate Goals
, both in CD and book format. Read more about Diane at
Check out Diane's new meditation, as well as guided breathing exercises and classes below:
30 Days to Grace
– Diane Sieg
Alternate Nostril Breathing
– Elise Fabricant
Forgive and Forget: How to Forgive More Easily
Forgive and forget. One of those catch phrases we throw around attaching no thought or action to it. So easy to say these words, but do you; have you, actually done it? Or are you like most of us, and have something that you are harbouring or dwelling on deep inside? While life would be one bright and colourful place if it was only full of rainbows, butterflies, unicorns and sunshine, we all know, reality isn’t. There are dark moments, painful experiences, words that hurt, disappointments, set backs and things that make us see red and breathe fire. Saying “I am sorry” and meaning it, is harder than truthfully expressing “I love you”. What’s more; is it’s a challenge to say it to someone else, but near impossible to say to ourselves. Can you relate to that? Sometimes, the disappointments and harsh words in our life, come from ourselves and in my experience, they are the ones that cause the most damage.
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Did you know babies can instinctively swim from their first second out of the womb? It’s true, and I highly recommend dipping your toe into the hundreds of adorable online videos demonstrating it. When underwater, they naturally know to hold their breath, and on the surface, they breathe deeply and fully, utilizing their bodies to the fullest capacity. When you notice a baby’s breath, it is obvious to see their relaxed, expansive, and unrestrained nature. It’s the way we are all meant to breathe. Yet, for many of us slightly larger humans, that skill of deep breathing disappears, overshadowed by stress and worries. The perfection of the present moment is easily lost amongst a sea of distractions. As it turns out, babies are the masters of the key to wellness. The quickest and easiest path to health is through returning to our baby bliss is through deep breathing and complete surrender to the present moment. This is the ultimate stress antidote.
Why You Don't Need To Be Flexible to Start Doing Yoga
If you’re thinking about starting yoga, but a lack of flexibility is holding you back - don’t let it stop you! The idea that you need to be flexible to do yoga is a huge myth, and flexibility isn’t essential to get on the mat. In fact - yoga practice can actually improve your flexibility, and you can see this improve over time the more yoga you practice. Every yogi started somewhere, and even the most flexible people didn’t start out being able to bend their bodies into difficult poses. Yoga can improve your flexibility if you’re not very bendy - as well as improve your posture, balance and strength, if being flexible isn’t one of your goals. Even bodybuilders didn’t start off being able to carry the heaviest of weights - they trained and started from the bottom, and the same is true for yoga and flexibility. Progress comes with effort and hard work, and starting from scratch.
Why You Don't Need a Guru
For many years, the practice of yoga was learned by dedicated students taught by their guru. Students learned yoga from one teacher or lineage and then either taught those same teachings or continued to study and live life. Today, when we read texts about how to learn yoga, you will always find a statement about the importance of finding a teacher. Presented as fact, this statement leads aspiring yoga practitioners to believe they indeed need to find their “guru.” An ideal of the guru is romanticized and categorized in the minds of many as an “if-then” statement — if I find a guru, then I will become enlightened. The problem with this dichotomy is that the student becomes disempowered by the notion that she can never find success on her own. Students are unable to progress in the true practice of yoga when this idea of the guru guiding practice becomes all-encompassing.
Forget Your Habits! (The Power of Ritual)
Question for you: Do you have any healthy habits you are trying to create this year? Or maybe some you would rather not have by the end of the year? (Like eating an entire jar of almond butter because you forgot to eat lunch or just... because?)
Don't Overthink it: Effective Methods to Find True Peace of Mind
Paying bills, taking care of kids, going to work… life can be very stressful at times to the point you feel like you just want to scream. With the various events that happen throughout the course of the day the mind can begin to race constantly wondering what to do. If you’ve been feeling bogged down lately, or have perhaps been over thinking every scenario happening in your life, then it may be time for you to come to terms with reality and find true peace of mind.
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