This exercise deepens the breath, expands the lungs and strengthens the breathing muscles in the chest. Use the lifting arms to stretch the ribs wide and help the lungs fill completely. Pull the belly in at the end of the inhale; it helps to isolate the muscles in the ribcage, making them stronger and opening the lungs. On the exhale, as the head drops back, stretch the chin up and away to get an even bend in the neck. The natural motion of the torso on an exhale is to contract. By extending the throat here we create tension and build heat in the body.
Work to slow your breathing down. As a beginning student try for four to six seconds on both the inhale and exhale. As an intermediate try for eight, and as an advanced student ten.
Start to develop the connection between breath and physical movement. It will bring about calmness and steadiness in your postures. Notice your body calming and thoughts slowing down as you progress through the exercise. Notice your focused and present state of mind. Learning simple breath control techniques like this can be used in stressful or emotional situations in your daily life.
Any exercise that slows the breath will slow the heart rate, lowering the blood pressure and reducing stress. This exercise increases lung capacity and strengthens the breathing muscles in the chest. It also stretches the shoulders, hands and throat.
Excerpt from the Ghosh Yoga Practice Manual - Intermediate
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga. This blog is about their experience with yoga practice, study and teaching.
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