Your yoga teacher talks a lot about the breath, because breath is, obviously, critical to your survival, and even defines your life. You may have found yourself practicing breath exercises in class—applying a ratio of inhalation to exhalation, for example, constricting your throat to create an ocean sound (ujjayi), or exhaling forcefully while pumping your abs like bellows (kapalabhati). Just like lifting weights are a means to an end, making your muscles strong so you can use them as you like, these exercises train you to strengthen and control your breath so that you can always find the right breath for now.
The beauty is that you probably already know what to do. These questions will help you discover the right breath—let them be a starting point to your self-study—and in my next posts I’ll add some suggestions.
In Your Workouts
- When you walk, run, cycle, or swim, which foot hits the ground or pedals down, or which arm is raised, as you begin your inhalation?
- Which is moving down as you begin your exhalation?
- Are these the same?
- How many steps or strokes are you taking on an inhalation?
- How many on an exhalation?
- When you lift weights or swing your racquet, stick, or club, are you inhaling or exhaling?
- How forceful is this breath?
- Are there times when you hold your breath?
In Your Yoga Practice
- How does your breath move in the space of your body when you rest on your back?
- On your belly?
- How loud is your breath at rest?
- How loud is your breath when you work—in standing poses, balance poses, or core exercises?
- How long does your breath take to come in?
- How long does your breath take to go out?
- When you lift your arms, do you prefer to inhale or exhale?
- What do you prefer when you lower?
There’s no need to change these yet—just notice.