Yogic Breathing for You and Your Family

Did you know that your breath is the largest tool you have to communicate between your body & brain? 

Your breath controls all the systems within your body. Learning how to control your breath, or pranayama, gives you access to energize or calm yourself in any situation. By directing your breath, you can navigate your energy and your responses to life.

When your body is calm, your breathing slows and deepens, your muscles relax, and your heart rate slows. It’s exactly how you would be when you’re about to fall asleep.

However, when you experience a stressful event, automatically your breathing pattern shifts and becomes more shallow, you muscles tense up, and your heart rate quickens.

Test Your Breath

  1. Close your eyes and place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly
  2. Sit quietly and notice the natural rhythm of your breath
  3. After quietly observing, which hand seemed to move the most? The hand on your heart or the hand on your belly?

The vast majority of people have trained their bodies to take short and shallow breaths (upper quadrant or paradoxical breathing). Chronic paradoxical breathing can negatively impact your cardiovascular and respiratory health as well as your ability to cope with stress and anxiety. As we age, our lung capacity and functions decrease slowly. Utilizing breathing exercises can strengthen breathing muscles, gain more oxygen, and breathe with less effort.

Your Breath’s Anatomy

Every Inhalation

  • Rises up, Expands, Energizing
  • Stimulates your Sympathetic Nervous System

Every Exhalation

  • Downward movement, Deflation, Calming and Grounding
  • Activates your Parasympathetic Nervous System

You can’t change the weather outside, but you can change your internal weather!

Below are my favorite ways to introduce deep breathing to your family.

Stuffed Animal Surfing

Practice deep belly breaths, instead of shallow chest breaths. When you breathe in, your belly should expand, and as you they breathe out, your belly should contract.

  • Lay down and place a stuffed animal on your belly
  • As you breathe in, move the stuffed animal up
  • As you breathe out, bring the stuffed animal back down
  • Set a timer for 2-3 minutes the first few times and build from there.

Alternate Nostril Breathing – Nadi Shodhana

Helps align the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which correlate to the logical and emotional sides of our personality

  • Sit in an easy seat with your eyes closed.
  • Place your left hand on your left knee with your palm facing upward, or in the Chin Mudra
  • Tuck your pointer and middle fingers into your palm and connect you ring and pinkie finger to one side and your thumb on the other side of your nostrils
  • Keep connection on your nostrils even to open and close each nostril
  • On an exhalation, close the right nostril with your thumb and breathe out through the left nostril
  • Breathe in through the left nostril and then close with pinkie and ring fingers
  • Soften the thumb on the right nostril and breathe out through the right nostril
  • Inhale through the right nostril, close with the thumb, soften the ring & pinky finger from the left side and exhale through the left nostril
  • These two full breaths are equal one round
  • Perform 5 to 9 rounds of this alternating breath

Diaphragmatic Breathing

  • Strengthens the diaphragm
  • Calms the mind, reduces anxiety, and prep the mind for meditation
  • Can instantly reduce stress and fatigue
  • Decreases the work of breathing by slowing your breathing rate
  • Decreases oxygen demand – uses less energy to breathe
  • Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale
  • Massages abdominal organs
  • More of a natural, soothing pace that’s easier to learn
  • Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Breathe into the hand on your belly. Breathe out feel your belly drift towards your spine
  • Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale
  • Belly breathing, which massages the abdominal organs more than rib cage breathing, often feels more natural and soothing and is easier to learn

Practicing pranayama exercises positively impacts your body, mind and spirit. Take time each day either alone or with your family and enjoy the many benefits of breath control.

Adrienne started practicing yoga when she was working in the corporate world. She traveled constantly and always looked for ways to keep healthy and active while on the road. After completing her RYT-200 Power Yoga Teacher Training she was hooked! She completed her RCYT-95 as well as her RYT-500 Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. A mother of two girls, Adrienne has dedicated her time to deepening her practice and connecting with her students (especially families & kids!) on ways to allow their yoga experience to ripple into all aspects of their lives. Throughout Adrienne’s trainings, her passion has led her to co-found FamilyFlow Yoga®️. FamilyFlow Yoga®️is one of four accredited schools in Illinois to offer a 95 Hour Registered Yoga Alliance Children’s Yoga Teacher Training program. Adrienne teaches in yoga studios, fitness clubs, boutique studios, as well as in school and after school yoga programs. FamilyFlow Yoga®️ has become an expert in offering continuing education programs and workshop for yoga instructors as well as schools’ staff and administrations. She's committed to helping people reach their full potential both physically, mentally and emotionally.

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