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[Yoga Home][Postures][Breathing][HolisticOnline Home][Meditation][Prayer]

Learning to Breathe Correctly

We do deep breathing while asleep. Hence a simple way to learn how to breath properly is to simulate sleep. Lie down, close your eyes, relax the whole body, drop the chin and imagine that you are asleep, thus letting your breathing become deeper and deeper.

In Yoga deep breathing, you start filling the lower part of the lungs first, then you fill the middle and upper part. When exhaling you first empty the upper part of the lungs, then the middle, and last of all the lower part.

This process, however, is not divided into three separate actions. Inhalation is done in one smooth continuous flow just as one might pour water in filling a glass. First the bottom is filled, then the middle, and finally the upper portion. But the process itself is an uninterrupted one. Inhalation should be done in one continuous operation both the inhalation and the exhalation. Do it slowly and in a most relaxed manner. No effort or strain should ever be exerted. This is very important. Keep mouth closed.

You then become aware of the function of your own diaphragm. You expand the flanks when inhaling and contract them when exhaling. The lower part of the rib cage naturally expands first when you breathe in and is compressed last when you let the air out. This too should be done gently, without any force or strain. The chest remains passive during the entire process of respiration. Only the ribs expand during inhalation and contract during exhalation, accordion-fashion. To use force during inhalation is completely wrong. One should do it with ease, without any tension or strain whatever. In deep breathing, exhalation is as important as inhalation because it eliminates poisonous matter. The lower part of our lungs seldom are sufficiently emptied, and tend to accumulate air saturated with waste products, for with ordinary breathing we never expel enough of the carbon dioxide our system throws off even if we do inhale enough oxygen. If, on the other hand, the lower part of the lungs are properly expanded and contracted, the circulation in the liver and spleen, which are thus "massaged" by the diaphragm, are greatly benefited.


First, push the stomach forwards as you breathe in.

Second, push the ribs sideways while still breathing in. The stomach will automatically go inwards slightly.

Third, lift the chest and collar bone up while still breathing in.

Even though this is described as three separate processes, it should be done in a smooth, continuous rhythm with each part following smoothly on from the previous part. Try to avoid any jerky movements.


First, just allow the collar bone, chest and ribs to relax-the air will go out automatically.

Second, when all the air seems to be out, push the stomach in slightly to expel any remaining air in the lungs.

Exhaling is a more passive affair, except for the second stage when the stomach is pushed in slightly.

Basic Instructions For The Breathing Exercises

  1. Find a quiet place where you won't be distracted. If doing the exercises inside, make sure the window is open to allow plenty of fresh air into the room.
  2. Sit on a chair or if you prefer, cross-legged on the floor. Sit straight. Unless your spine is erect, some of the benefits of the breathing exercises will be lost.
  3. Breathe deeply and slowly, without strain.
  4. You should do the exercises on an empty stomach. Wait at least three hours after a heavy meal, and about one and a half hours after a light snack, such as fruit. This are two reasons for this. First, a heavy meal will reduce your concentration. Second, food in the stomach causes some of your blood and oxygen supply to be diverted to the stomach for digestion. This will reduce the blood and oxygen available for directing to the brain while you are doing the breathing exercises.
  5. To gain maximum benefit, do the exercises twice a day, in the early morning before breakfast, and in the early evening. It's best not to eat for about fifteen minutes after the exercises.

While doing deep breathing the spine should be kept straight, so as not to impair the free flow of the life-force, or prana. This also helps to develop correct posture. The yogis attach such great importance to correct posture that they have devised several different positions for their various advanced breathing practices as well as for meditation and concentration. One very popular pose for deep breathing is lotus posture or cross legged posture.

When you sit down on the floor with your legs crossed, visualize a stream running through you in a straight line, starting at the top of your head and continuing into the ground. Imagine, too, that this is the axis around which your body has been molded. This will help you learn to sit up straight without being stiff and tense. You should, in fact, feel comfortable and relaxed as you sit this way.

Go To: Your First Deep Breath

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