Yoga Breath

Yoga breath (pranayama) promotes health and vitality in our lungs. In yoga, we inhale and exhale through our nostrils; but, occasionally we exhale through our mouth. If our lungs are healthy, we can add breath retention (a pausing after inhaling and/or exhaling) to improve lung capacity over time. Breath retention and Breath of Fire are not recommended for children, pregnant women, and those with cardiac or respiratory issues.

Breath to Calm:

  • Expanding Breath (to expand back bends)
  • Sinking Breath (to deepen forward folds)
  • Equal Ratio Breath (equal count for inhale and exhale)
  • Three-Part Breath (focus on expanding lower, middle and upper lungs)
  • Extended Exhale Breath (normal inhale, long exhale)
  • Diaphragmatic Breath (focus on expanding ribs)
  • Abdominal Breath (focus on expanding belly)
  • Cool Single Nostril Breath (gently close right nostril. Inhale & exhale through left nostril)
  • Whisper Breath (a.k.a. – Ujjayi Breath, exhaling sound of the ocean)

Breath to Energize:

  • Deep Cleansing Breath (exhale audibly out the mouth)
  • Lion’s Breath (Deep Cleansing Breath combined with a yoga movement)
  • Extended Inhale Breath (long inhale, normal exhale)
  • Warm Single Nostril Breath (gently close right nostril. Inhale & exhale through left nostril)
  • Breath of Fire (Avoid if you have high or low blood pressure.)

Breath to Balance:

  • Alternate Nostril Breathing (like single nostril breath, except switching directions after each breath)

Breath for Children:

  • Bees Breath (to calm)
  • 123 Breath (to calm, similar to Equal Ratio Breath)
  • Bear’s Breath (to calm, similar to Three-Part Breath)
  • Bunny’s Breath (to energize)
  • Lion’s Breath (to energize, breath with yoga movement)
  • Choo-Choo Breath (to energize, breath with arm movement)
  • Elephant Breath (to energize, breath with yoga movement)

There are free smartphone apps that can help you train your breath, such as Prana Breath: Calm & Meditate.

Recommended Reading: The Science of Breath by Yogi Rachmacharia