Health ... Fitness
Relaxation and the complete breath Learning to breath deeply and fully during class has made such a difference in the way I do my forms. The slow, full, deep in and out breathing paces my moves and fills me with oxygen.
The following is excerpted from an breathing article by By Aaron Hoopes (Founder and Chief Instructor of Zen Yoga)
The Complete Breath:
The Complete Breath is a dynamic breathing exercise that is both simple and complex. Regular practice expands lung capacity, which, in turn, slows down unconscious breathing and makes it smoother and more regular. In addition, The Complete Breath maximizes oxygen intake and enables oxygen-rich blood to flow to the extremities. It also cleans and invigorates the lungs.
In the beginning it is best if The Complete Breath is practiced from a lying-down posture so maximum concentration can be placed on the exercise itself, which consists of four separate aspects: inhalation, retention, exhalation, and suspension.
Inhale through the nose. Expand the lower abdomen, pushing out and down, just as if you were starting Abdominal Breathing. Once the abdomen is full, continue inhaling and expand the chest, filling the upper lungs. Raise the collarbone and shoulders as you continue inhaling. Fill the throat and the nose. Stop.
Hold the breath in. Bring your attention to the fullness of the body. Feel the expansion circulating the oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Continue to hold the breath in for a count of ten.
Exhale through the nose. Contract the lower abdomen pushing in and up. Continue to exhale by squeezing the air from the lungs and chest. Lower the collarbone and shoulders. Blow the air from your throat and nose. Empty it all out. Stop. Suspension Hold the breath out. Bring your attention to the emptiness of the body. Feel your body like an empty balloon waiting to be filled. Continue to suspend breathing for a count of ten.
On the next inhalation don’t gasp for air. Calmly and smoothly inhale just as before. Feel the air reaching far beyond your abdomen, filling every corner of your body like an expanding balloon. Notice the sensation of your body as the new oxygen is brought in. Do the complete set five or ten times each day.