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Breath Work In Yoga (Pranayama)
Breathing is an essential part of yoga. Breathing, or pranayama, helps move energy around the body. It can also cleanse, detoxify and offer healing in a range of ways depending on the pattern of the breathing.

There are three aspects of our breathing we need to consider in relation to pranayama.

1. Inhale
2. Retain
3. Exhale

Controlling each of these will give us different effects. Here are some of the main breathing patterns you will find in most forms of yoga.

Long Slow Deep Breathing
Lie on your back (Corpse pose).
Begin by observing the natural inhalation and exhalation of your breath without changing anything. If you find yourself distracted by the activity in your mind, try not to engage in the thoughts. Bring your attention back to the breath.

Inhale deeply through the nose, filling the diaphragm and belly like you are blowing up a balloon. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then exhale through the nose, pushing all the air out at the end of the exhale like you are squeezing all the air out of the balloon. Repeat for 5 breaths.
This is a great exercise for anyone with breathing issues.

4/4 breath
Sit cross-legged (Easy pose)
Begin a slow count to four as you inhale.
Count to four as you exhale.
The exercise is to match the length of your inhale and exhale.
You can also add a retention for a count of 4 before exhaling. In addition, you can hold the breath out for 4. The first will circulate energy through the body. The latter will help you get rid of stale air in the lung and toxins.

Alternate nostril breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is used to restore energy balance and maintain it.
Sit comfortably cross-legged with your spine erect and shoulders and face relaxed.
Place your left hand on the left knee, palm open.
Position the right hand like the diagram above.
Using the curled pinkie and ring fingers of your right hand, press them to your left nostril to close it. Place the tips of your straightened index and middle fingers on the third eye chakra, that is, the forehead just above the bridge of your nose.
Place the thumb on the right nostril lightly.
Breathe through the right nostril, taking long deep breaths, for at least 8 breaths. When you feel that the air is flowing freely, switch nostrils.

Now open the left nostril by moving the pinkie and ring fingers. Close off the right nostril this time using your thumb. Keep the index and middle fingers on your third eye chakra. Breathe in and out for eight, and then go on to the next activity, or repeat the cycle for a total of 9 times.

Breath of Fire
This is the breathing used often in Kundalini yoga order to move energy up the body from the lower body to the top of the head.
Sit cross-legged (Easy pose).
Start breathing in and out through the nose rapidly, as though hyperventilating.
As you breathe, the movement should pump the navel area.
If you have trouble starting or sustaining the breath, picture yourself as a happy puppy panting in and out but through the nose only, you should be able to develop a natural rhythm and will get good abs very quickly. If you feel dizzy, go back to long, deep breathing.