Breathing is an integral part of yoga and is very important. Most people habitually breathe too high up in the chest, using only the higher lobes of the lungs. Breathing in this way encourages hyperventilation, a nervous mindset, insecurity and poor oxygenation of the blood. It’s a sign of being out of ones ‘centre’. The breath in Dynamic Yoga is always drawn and exhaled through the nostrils. The breath is loose and free during the warm up. When working through the final, meditative phase of the class, when the postures are performed gently and effortlessly, the breath is totally natural and liquid with no effort to control the process. When a posture is held for any length of time, draw the breath deep, and try to prolong the exhalation so that you release into the stretch. This will help you develop a stretch further. Where a posture requires effort and strength in deeper stances and during the renketsus, the dan-tien breath is an important aspect of the posture. In renketsus, the air is inhaled during the passive aspect of the postures (or the rest between postures) and exhalation occurs in performing the active aspect (or the most difficult part of the posture). Never hold the breath. The dan-tien breath is performed by breathing into the centre just below the belly button (known as the dan-tien or hara). As this breathing technique is mastered one can learn to direct the flow of breath to specific organs, i.e. the kidneys. In the dan-tien breath, all the internal organs are stimulated and massaged; the experience is of finding one’s centre and drawing internal heat to the 'cauldron' of the stomach and sacral centres where metabolism takes place. When breathing from this centre, the voice becomes deeper, the centre of gravity is lower, one has more stamina, drive, power and energy; difficulties are much easier to cope with. One has a sense of ‘digging deeper’ and drawing from one's inner resources.Enhancement of muscular activity, respiration, circulation and digestion will give benefits physically, psychologically and cosmetically. Skin colour and tone improve, eyes shine, posture and bearing improve.This brings about an enhanced sense of well-being, confidence and self esteem giving the seasoned yoga practictioner a radiance and glow of vitality. Yoga works on the immune and nervous systems enabling us more to deal with the daily stresses of life. We can begin to calm down on a very deep level. As this happens we begin to see more clearly the true nature of things. our judgement improves, we become more conscious of our habits, actions and reactions. With this in mind - yoga can also improve our relationships with others and ourselves.
How to perform the Dan-Tien Breath
Empty the lungs completely. Then breathe deep into the pelvic floor, imagine the air flowing literally into the coccyx and around the internal organs, try to feel the breath as a solid force in the lower abdomen. At the same time try to prevent the rib cage expanding so the force of the breath sinks down. Squeeze the throat slightly (not so much as to constrict the air flow but just so that the breathe makes a slight noise as it passes through). As you finish the inhalation, lock the anal and genital sphincters and allow the lower stomach wall to swell slightly. The sense is of trapping the air and holding it within the lower body. You should feel a sense of fullness and solidity in the internal organs. Release the locks and breathe out with control, pushing out the air by drawing the abdomen wall in towards the spine.