Breathing Exercises for Chair Yoga Practice
Yoga begins with the breath. This applies to any style of yoga, including chair yoga. Learning proper breathing exercises for chair yoga is the first step to successful results. What are the best breathing exercises for chair yoga practice?
Yoga breathing practice is referred to as pranayama, which means “breath control.” Breathing exercises for chair yoga manipulate the breath to the practitioner’s advantage. Prana is Sanskrit for “breath” or “vital energy.” On a subtle level, prana is the energy of our life force. Ayama means control. So, breathing exercises for chair yoga practice aim to control the breath.
There are several different pranayama techniques. These include ujjayi, kapalabhati, kumbhaka, sitali, bhastrika, viloma, and alternate nostril breathing. All breathing exercises for chair yoga are the same techniques you would practice in any yoga class.
The Power of Breath
The breath is one of our most valuable tools for changing the state of our mind. Have you ever noticed you hold your breath when you’re tense or stressed? Or maybe you take very shallow, rapid breaths because you are always in a rush.
Learning to breathe properly can not only help our mental state, but it also makes a huge difference for our physical health and general well-being. With the right mental and physical preparation, exercise is easier too. That’s why we do breathing exercises for chair yoga.
Take a Deep Breath
I remember when I was a young girl crying uncontrollably. My dad would say, “Kristin, stop crying and take a deep breath.” If you’ve ever had a similar experience, you know that taking a deep breath really works. Breathing deeply helped me calm down and change my state of being.
The breathing exercises for chair yoga help us pay attention to our breath. Yogis use the breath as a reminder of how amazing it is to be alive. We are happier, more present, and more alert and energized when we tap into the breath.
One of the very first breathing exercises for chair yoga is the simple act of taking deep, slow rhythmic inhalations and exhalations through the nose. This calms that parasympathetic nervous system, which is often overactive. Deep breathing also oxygenates our bodies fully.
Unfortunately, few of us use our full lung capacity. The good news is yoga can change this, starting with the breath.
Benefits of Breathing Exercises for Chair Yoga
Each breathing techniques in chair yoga has specific benefits. Briefly, they are
Ujjayi breathing to balance and calm the body
Kapalbhati for cleansing the system
Kumbhaka (breath retention) to build lung capacity
Alternate nostril breathing for relaxation
Bhastrika to increase energy
Viloma to teach us how to breathe more fully
Sithali to cool and calm the body
Are you surprised how much you can accomplish when you learn to control the breath? Don’t be; our breath is power behind our life! You can learn more about how to do each of these breathing techniques in my book, Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch, and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier, You. You’ll find detailed instructions and illustrations to help guide you through each of these practices.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!