|The Science of Breath –Benefits of The Full Yoga Breath
By Marit Griffith
paper discusses the benefits, both physical and mental, that can be
gained from developing the deep focused full yogic breath, or Raja
focussed breathing makes the process of breathing a conscious
activity. The aim of such conscious regular breathing practice is
to encourage full use of our lungs as we go about our daily activities
and thus undo bad breathing habits we may have picked up over the years.
the beginning it can be done at the start of a yoga class while in
seated poses to encourage you to become composed and to focus on the
present and their practice, at the end of practice while lying down to
relax, and also during the practice of each posture as you master them.
the goal is to breathe in this way naturally; when exercising,
socialising, relaxing, etc. Therefore, it is a good idea to practice
when sitting in the car, walking to an appointment, watching TV, etc,
whenever you remember.
Deep focussed yoga breath involves even rhythmic breathing through the nostrils.
On the inhalation:
The lower lungs expand by contracting the diaphragm (causing the
abdomen to expand) and the stomach moves out
2. The intercostals muscle expands the rib cage to fill the middle parts of the lungs.
3. The collarbones lift to fill the top part of the lungs.
the exhalation, all the air is pushed out from the top to the bottom of
the lungs, in the three stages, until all the air is fully exhaled and
a sensation of pulling your stomach back to your spine is felt as your
The Physical Benefits of The Full Yoga Breath:
people use the top part of the lungs to breathe. Deep focussed Yogic
breathing uses the lungs fully, allowing the transfer of oxygen to take
place within the alveoli (small air sac) throughout the whole of the
lungs, therefore filling the body with a larger quantity of oxygen for
the up-right position there is far more blood in the lower part of the
lungs than the upper part, therefore learning to breath from the
diaphragm allows the exchange of the oxygen into the blood at the lower
part of the lungs to take place more efficiently.
rhythmic breathing increases the return of oxygen-depleted blood
(venous) to the lungs, and the more efficient exhale improves the lungs
process the elimination of the waste products (mostly carbon dioxide)
out of the blood.
blood supply to the heart improves heart function. The more oxygen we
breathe in the richer the oxygen supply to all parts of the body and
our heart does not have to work as hard to pump the blood around the
body, there by lowering blood pressure.
oxygen supply helps the digestive process and nourishes the body.
It helps the body to break down food into energy for the body to
use. The cells in our blood absorb the nutrients and effectively
transport it to all parts of our body.
muscles, skin, and the organs generally work and repair more
efficiently when there is more oxygenated blood supply to them.
Mitochondria of the body use oxygen to create the physical energy that
we use to move. Increased oxygen gives our body a more readily
available supply of energy, and also results in the body not having to
use other methods to create energy which can have side effects, like
The Mental Benefits of The Full Yogic Breath:
our brain is supplied with oxygen rich blood, our minds can experience
improved concentration and greater clarity of thought.
- Deep focussed yoga breathing can help the mind to focus on clearing or observing the mind, and thereby facilitating meditation.
helps us to gain conscious control and awareness of our breath.
We learn to consciously control our breathing, which is normally
controlled by the more primitive and involuntary parts of the brain.
This benefits us as our consciousness learns to tap into the
unconscious processes of the body and mind – many of the so-called
‘miracles’ of Yoga (levitation, stopping the heart beat, etc) are
attributed to control of the breath.
breathing helps us alter our emotional states. Allowing us to reduce
stress, fear, upset and panic (fight and flight emotions/altering
autonomic nervous system function).
- Rhythmic breathing can also improve mental awareness of the physical body and facilitate control and co-ordination of movement.
- The following of the breath can be a very efficient method of meditation.
the breath wanders, or is irregular, the mind is also unsteady, but
when the breath is stills is the mindn, and the Yogi lives long. So one
should restrain the breath” Hatha Yoga Pradipika
is a physical function that is both voluntary and involuntary, this
means that we can control the breath, but there is also a subconscious
reflex triggered by the need for oxygen in the body. This is considered
to have very high significance in Yoga as it is considered that the
breath is the key to control over the autonomic nervous system, the
part of our functioning that we Westerners are taught lies outside our
awareness and runs entirely unconsciously.
we observe the way in which we use our breath, various unconscious
breathing habits are identified and replaced with more beneficial ones.
With increased awareness and control of the subtle aspects of
breathing, these interventions can affect deep physical and
psychological changes. Therefore opening up new avenues of being to the
conscious mind, providing a powerful tool in the pursuit of truly
holistic health and personal growth.’
The Science of Breath: A