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The Yoga Blog

Breathing and Moving for Physical and Mental Well-being - Part 2

Anxiety can only take hold if you let it. You can take control by becoming knowledgeable on some methods that can help you. Keep reading to discover a toolkit of practices that hugely benefits your physical and mental well-being.

Part 2: Breathing Techniques

Diaphragmatic Breathing

It is the most efficient way to breathe; when the inhale is achieved by the downward movement of the diaphragm. Diaphragmatic breathing is better than chest breathing because it stimulates the lower and upper lungs. In turn, this makes:

  • Gaseous exchange is more efficient
  • Our blood is more oxygen-rich
  • The circulatory system is more efficient
  • Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system via the splanchnic nerves telling the body we are in rest and digest, i.e. calmness


Place the hands between the ribs at the base of the sternum. If you are breathing correctly, when you inhale, the diaphragm will move down, and you will feel this area rise into your fingers. When you exhale, this area will move away from your fingers.

Still not happening for you?

Hug yourself; this restricts the accessory muscles, which force the diaphragm down. Or place an object on your belly and make it rise and fall.

Elongation of the exhale (1:2 Breathing)

Inhale is sympathetic (fight and flight), and the exhale is parasympathetic (rest and digest). If we exhale for longer, we can stay in the parasympathetic drive, calming the system when we feel anxious or need to settle down. 


Start with 2 seconds:4 seconds and gradually increase the length as you get better at it. 

Still having difficulty?

If you find it difficult to exhale for an extended period, try blowing the breath out through pursed lips until it feels more manageable. Chanting "Om" is another great way to elongate the exhale.

Ujjayi/Resistance Breathing

Incredibly beneficial for the system. Practice it driving the car, walking the dog, and definitely if you are doing asana practice. 


Partially close the epiglottis at the back of the throat, open the mouth and steam up the mirror with 'Hah' breath. Then do it with your mouth closed to create the sound of the ocean or Darth Vader! When you become comfortable with it, use it with all the practices.

Dirga Breath

This practice can help you to Increase your lung capacity.


Sip the breath in on the inhale in 3 parts and then long exhale. If you have restricted lung capacity, this will help you to fill the lungs more. Opening the side of the body up with side stretches is an excellent thing to do before breath work as it will stretch out the intercostal muscles and make filling the lungs easier.

Coherent Breathing

It sets the breath rate at a rate of 5 breaths per minute which is considered the optimal rate for keeping a healthy level of balance in this system where the body can build resources needed for us to be well physically and mentally.  If done for 20 minutes, it can also lead to a global relaxation response in the body. You will benefit from regular practice; this is the practice I suggest more than any other that you take up.


When the bell chimes, inhale. When it chimes again, exhale. 

Here is the track: https://app.box.com/s/281y33jpc4bpzmjmdpzfwq517fbae85v

For more details about yoga for mental well-being, you can contact YogaJo's here!

Joanne runs an advanced 300 Hour training for qualified yoga teachers which will build your skills as a yoga teacher to allow you to work skilfully and appropriately in both group and 1:1 sessions with those who may be suffering with their mental health.

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