Increase your Vitality with Simple Yoga Techniques by Sue Fuller

A regular yoga practice will help to combat winter blues and keep minor illnesses at bay.  

The deep breathing techniques and controlled movements performed during a yoga class help to remove toxins from the body, increase energy levels and promote health and vitality.   

Just fifteen minutes a day of yoga postures (asanas) followed by a selection of pranayamas (often referred to as breathing techniques) will increase oxygen levels in the body which in turn can help to combat fatigue and rejuvenate both body and mind.

The Sanskrit word prana translates to mean vital life force and yama means restraint. Pranayama is therefore the control of vital life force.  

Today yoga practitioners use pranayamas to raise their levels of pranic energy this has a revitalising effect on the all of the bodies systems. 

Pranayama encourages us to become more conscious of our breathing; as a result our lungs function more efficiently and the body is supplied with higher levels of oxygen. 

To help revitalise body and mind I recommend trying the following pranayamas after a short asana practice. 

A class from the Yoga 2 Hear range of Daily Yoga classes contains just 15 minutes of yoga.

A Basic Yoga Breathing Technique

First Breathing ExerciseThis technique will encourage you to breathe correctly, which will raise oxygen levels in the body and help to increase lung capacity. 

Begin lying on your back with your legs bent, your knees are pointing straight up and the soles of your feet are on the floor.  Breathe slowly in and out through the nose.  Place your hands to the space between your sternum (breast bone) and navel.  This area should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.  Take your time to lengthen each breath, work to fill the whole of your lungs with air each time you inhale and then to totally empty them as you exhale.  Never force the breath, try to find a slow comfortable rhythm and maintain it. 

This technique needs to be mastered before moving on to the following. 

The Ujjayi Breath

The ujjayi breath is otherwise known as the breath of tranquillity, this pranayama can be practised throughout a yoga class or at night to help you fall asleep.  It helps to relieve stress and has a soothing effect on the body and mind.  

To perform ujjayi breathing breathe slowly in and out through your nose, as you do so visualise  the air entering and leaving your body through a hole in your throat.  This technique will open the throat and as a result you will feel that more air is entering the body.  Allow your breath to create a soft sound as it passes across the vocal cords.  Both your inhalation and exhalation should be long and controlled and last for approximately the same duration. By focussing your mind on the sound created by the ujjayi breath you can help to relax and calm the mind and create a state of deep relaxation. 

Kapalabhati (Frontal Cleansing Breath)

The kapalabhati breath is considered to cleanse the entire system and will energize the mind and eradicate fatigue.

Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight.  Inhale deeply through the nose filling the lungs completely.  Use a short sharp contraction of the diaphragm to push some of the air out through your nose.  Now allow a little more air to enter the lungs through the nose before pushing it out again using the short sharp contraction of the diaphragm.  Continue breathing like this.  You should be creating a sound similar to a steam train.

When starting this technique begin with a cycle of twenty breaths.  This can gradually be increased up to a cycle of a hundred breaths.  At the end of each cycle take one complete inhalation followed by a complete exhalation.  Repeat this technique for three complete cycles.

Some of these techniques can be found on Yoga 2 Hear Pranayama classes.  Yoga 2 Hear also produce an extensive range of high quality audio yoga classes suitable for those with and without any previous yoga experience.

Sue Fuller is a leading yoga teacher, columnist and course author.  She is the creator of the Yoga 2 Hear range of audio yoga classes.  There are over 60 yoga classes suitable for different abilities all available from www.yoga2hear.co.uk

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