The first Bikram breathing exercise is good for lungs and respiratory system. Coming from the words Prana (meaning: life force) and Yama (meaning: control), this posture initiates breath control that creates a bridge between the physical body and mind to encourage equilibrium between the two. This posture prepares the body for the rest of your yoga practice by increasing the blood circulation and the heart rate. Every breath in Pranayama breathing increases the lung’s elasticity and power which will help to open the otherwise residual alveoli of the lungs.
Benefits of Pranayama Breathing
- Expands the lungs to their full capacity
- Promotes mental relaxation
- Helps with high blood pressure
- Increases detoxification in the body and organs
- Helps with sleep disorders
- Decreases anxiety and irritability
- Stimulates blood circulation and brings fresh oxygenated blood to every cell of the body
- Prevents respiratory problems such as bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and shortness of breath
Tips for Pranayama Breathing
- From Bikram’s book, “The tricky part here is the breathing–you never knew that a mindless, repetitive act could be so complex! Here you must breathe by compressing the throat.” So pay most attention to the breath in order to get the full benefits of the posture.
- Go slowly. In order to achieve full lung capacity you must breathe in and out for the full size counts or for as long as you can.
- You must keep your spine straight. No backward bending.
- To help keep your spine straight remember to suck your stomach in. This means you hollow your belly so your rib cage is visible. By sucking your stomach in it helps you use your full lung capacity.
- Keep your eyes open. During the exhale as you tilt your head backward many people close their eyes at this point without even realizing it. Keeping your eyes open helps you stay present in the room.
- Keep your hips forward toward the mirror by squeezing your bum to help keep your spine completely straight.
- Keep your shoulders in line with the hips. Try to keep your balance without tipping from side to side. Avoid this by pushing your weight into your heels.
- Exhale the air out completely. This is very important because once you completely release all the CO2 in your lungs O2 can come completely in helping to utilize residual aveoli.
- Feeling a pinch in the neck and burning in the shoulders is very normal.
- It’s completely fine to feel dizzy in the posture. In fact, if you feel dizzy you are doing it right.
More on Pranayama Breathing
- What postures can I do outside the hot room?
- I wobble from side to side during Pranayama Breathing; what am I doing wrong?
- Posture Clinic: Pranayama Breathing
Next Posture: Half Moon with Hands to Feet Pose