How to Breathe in Yoga

When you know how to breathe, you know how to work on yourself.

I’m a big fan of a yoga teacher named Jason Crandell. If you haven’t heard of him, definitely Google him and get to know him a little better.

I mention that because I want to give him credit for an incredibly powerful perspective he shared on the importance of the breath in yoga.

It goes something like this:

“The movement of the body set a cadence for the breath. The movement of the breath sets a cadence for the mind. The movement of the mind sets a cadence for the nervous system.”

I love this because it highlights the breath as the link between the body and mind that allows yoga’s influence on the nervous system to take place.

Put another way, if we’re not breathing with intention in yoga, we’re missing the opportunity to influence one of the most critical drivers of who we are, what we do, and how we do it: the nervous system.

Put yet another way, if we’re not breathing with intention in yoga, we’re not doing yoga.

I understand why the breath isn’t the most popular focal point in a yoga class. Most people (including myself) original came to yoga for its physical benefits. We want a yoga body and to feel good and, in my opinion, there’s really nothing wrong with that.

But, as you keep coming back to yoga, there comes a point where working on just the physical aspects of our being becomes painful, boring, or both. When we start to appreciate the breath and its applications, we uncover our first experiences in the deeper, meaningful, and transformational aspects of yoga.

The first step on this path is learning how to do victorious breathing, also known as “ujjayi”.

In this video tutorial, I review the primary benefits of this breathing technique (breath regulation and warming, and bringing our mind to a single pointed focus) and also detail simple technical aspects to help you figure it out very quickly.

To be honest, figuring out the technique is pretty easy and straightforward for most people. What’s difficult is applying it and learning to listen to it as you practice yoga.

With that, I’ll leave you with two challenges:

  1. Next time you do a yoga class, can you maintain ujjayi breath the whole time?
  2. When you inevitably start to lose control of your ujjayi breath, due to physical intensity or distraction, can you listen to it and adjust your approach accordingly?

Start using yoga to live athletically:

Yoga for Athletes - The Ultimate Guide

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About the Author:

Joe is the Founder of Icewater Yoga. Fascinated by the intersection of yoga and sport, his goal is to help athletes develop a consistent yoga practice. He lives in Claremont, CA with his wife, Jill.