Focus on the Respiratory System


Interview with ASMY Yoga Teacher, Kalindi

Q: Namaste, which yoga practices assist respiratory functioning and why?

Kalindi: Pranayama techniques help, especially complete yoga breathing, three part yoga breath. This is because you are using the full capacity of the lungs by inhaling firstly into the abdomen, then the rib cage and lastly up into the chest. On the exhalation air is expelled firstly rom the chest, then the ribcage, and lastly the abdomen, then you can give the abdomen a gentle squeeze to make sure the last bit of air is exhaled.

Q: How long would you suggest someone could practice this type of yoga breathing?

Kalindi: You could do it for 2 – 5 minutes and then add the Gauranga mantra to the breath. To practice Gauranga breathing inhale, say Gauranga in your mind, then as you exhale say Gauranga out loud.

You can practice Gauranga breathing to our CD here

Q: What is so beneficial about using your full lung capacity during the three part yoga breath?

Kalindi: Well, it increases the oxygen supply to the body as well as increasing lung capacity. It helps those people with asthma and others who have difficulty breathing, to breathe deeply, and with practice, it will carry throughout the day.

Q: Are there any yoga asanas that specifically target the respiratory system?


Kalindi: Pranayama and breathing exercises specifically work on the respiratory system but any asana or bandah or mudra if you are doing it with the breath, coordinating it with the breath, that will help with breath awareness, so you are not shallow breathing.

Q: Why is that important?

Kalindi: It promotes relaxation and full body awareness. By connecting with the breath, when you exhale that can take you further, deeper, into the pose compared with forcing your body into it. That way you are more aware of how far the body can actually go, so you are less likely to strain or injure yourself whilst doing that asana.

Q: Are there any contraindications to these yoga practices when you have respiratory problems and if so what?

Kalindi: Not with complete yoga breathing exercises as described above but if you have high blood pressure or you are in the fight or flight stress response mode it is best to focus more on the exhalations as they are relaxing, and therefore calming. If you have low blood pressure, or are feeling sleepy, focus more on the inhalation which is more stimulating.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?

Kalindi: Yoga is non-competitive and you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to others. All classes held at ASMY also include a yoga meditation practice called kirtan. Gauranga breathing is part of a mantra meditation practice that not only has benefit for the respiratory system but has a calm and relaxing effect on the mind and because the sound Gauranga is a spiritual sound it provides spiritual nourishment for the soul. You’ll experience mantra meditation in all of our classes therefore you are receiving the physical and mental benefit of yoga as well as experiencing the spiritual benefit too.