Updated: Jul 24
There's a lot more to yoga than just the poses, and if you regularly practice, you'll know that there's a big emphasis on bringing your awareness to your breath. One of the first breathing exercises you may come across in yoga is abdominal or belly breathing.
These deep belly breaths encourage us to use our lungs to their full capacity, where we might not do so throughout the day.
Establishing abdominal breathing is a lovely way to start your yoga practice and settle your mind. Here's how to do it.
How to start belly breathing
To begin your belly breathing practice, start by bringing yourself safely down to the floor:
1. Sit up tall on the floor, legs stretched out long in front of you
2. Bring your hands up level with your shoulders.
3. Point your toes and tuck your chin in towards your chest.
4. Using your tummy muscles, lower yourself down one vertebrae at a time until you're lying flat on your mat.
5. Once on the floor, get comfy and relax your body down into the mat.
Once you're happily laying down, you can begin to turn your awareness to your breath.
1. Keep your elbows grounded into the mat and bring your hands onto your belly, just beneath your navel.
2. Imagine there's a ballon in your belly - send your breath down to this balloon as you inhale.
3. As you inhale, the balloon inflates and your belly button rises.
4. As you exhale, the balloon deflates and your belly button draws back towards your spine.
5. Repeat this several times until you get used to the technique. This is your belly breath.
Once you get used to the feeling of breathing into your belly, try inhaling for a count of three, holding for one and exhaling for four. This is a calming breath and will help to relax your body. It can be a lovely thing to do in bed at the end of the day when you're settling down to sleep.
Top tip: once you've mastered this lying down, do the same in a sitting position, making sure you sit up tall to keep your spine nice and long.