Yoga poses can help you calm down, focus, breathe, stretch, warm up, or exercise your body. Starting your morning with yoga is a healthy practice that can improve your breathing and increase energy levels throughout the day. You’ll encounter several daily yoga poses including mountain, extended mountain, standing forward bend, upward/downward dog, bridge, knee to the chest, and more.
Here’s an overview of the top yoga poses for breathing:
Dirgha (Diaphragmatic) Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing (Dirgha) is one of the easy starting positions for pranayama, which combines breathing with control. Prana translates to breath or life force, while Yama means to control or reign in. When practicing pranayama moves, you learn to control your body by regulating and focusing on each breath.
Below are the steps for diaphragmatic breathing:
• Find a position offering stillness. You can sit up, lie down or rest in any position.
• Place one hand next to your heart, the other on your belly.
• Breathe in through your nose, then breathe out through the mouth.
• When you exhale, try to extend the breathing out longer. You can inhale for a three count and exhale for one more count.
• Guide your focus back to breathing when your mind wanders.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a simple technique anyone can achieve. Once you’ve spent enough time breathing, you can proceed to pratapana, which involves gentle, easy warm-up movements. The diaphragmatic breath is a starting point that transitions you from sleep to wakefulness. Make sure you start with deep, gentle breaths.
Cat & Cow Poses
You can perform the cat and cow poses on all-fours or while seated in a cross-legged position. If your hips are tight, assume a low kneel position. Cat and cow poses stretch your spine and back muscles. Extending the spine with stretching techniques also benefits your lungs, circulation, breathing, and wakefulness. Here are the steps for cat and cow yoga poses:
• Assume a low kneeling position, go on all-fours, or sit with your legs crossed.
• Anchor your hands to the front of your knees or the ground.
• Breathe in as you pull your heart and chest through your arms. Lift the chin gently while inhaling.
• Pull your navel in slightly to avoid hurting your lower back area.
• Breathe out and round your back while dropping your chin to your chest. You should feel the shoulder blades moving.
Side Bends & Twists
Twists and side bends seem simple, but they can be challenging for new yogis. The poses are performed from a sitting position. Side bending involves raising both arms, inhaling, exhaling, and bending to one side. Keep one arm on the floor to push you further toward the opposite side. You can also reach up and overlook to create space around your rib area. Repeat the pose to bend the opposite side.
When it comes to twisting, think of the core, not the shoulders. Start in a seated position and inhale with both arms up. Exhale and use your front hand to anchor to the opposite knee. Place the back hand behind you. With your next inhalation, elongate through the crown of your head. Use the exhalation to deepen the twist further. Make sure you’re twisting with the core leading to avoid being pulled through by the shoulders. Repeat the process on the opposite side.
Mountain & Extended Mountain Pose
The mountain pose is a powerful move, perfect if you want to remain energized throughout the day. You can also use the pose to improve your breathing and circulation. Stand still with your arms raised and feet hip-width apart. Distribute your weight between both feet without leaning forward or backward. Adjust your position to keep your shoulders, hips, knees, and hands on one line. Roll your shoulders, open your chest, and breathe deeply through your nose.
Remember to hold one breath during your inhalations when performing the mountain pose. You can then raise your arms outward from the pose into the extended mountain. Stretch your spine with your arms raised until you feel your back curved inward. Try to reach your arms slightly behind you and hold for a breath. Keep your abs tight, release the breath and move to the standing forward bend. Contract your abs at all times to protect your back.
How To Start Daily Yoga
As a yogi, you can access many poses that improve your morning breathing. If you’re new, you can still enjoy daily yoga by enrolling in an online class. Choose reputable classes with experienced yogis and positive references. You can start at any level and have instant download videos to enjoy yogi-instructed classes anytime.