The Yoga Breath: Deep But Not Full

There is a common misconception that to relax we should take big deep breaths.

While it is certainly beneficial to breathe deeply in order to relax, full or ‘big’ breaths are not so good. The reason behind this in simple terms is that too much air in is usually coupled with not enough air out, and this gives a slight hyperventilation effect. Hyperventilation even at a mild level brings the nervous system into high alert which is not usually what we are looking for when we breathe deeply.

How to breathe deeply but not fully.

  • Sit comfortably and place one hand on the abdomen and one hand on the upper chest.
  • As you inhale let the breath come deep to the bottom of the lungs and feel your abdomen pushing outwards.
  • As you exhale feel it drawing back to the spine.
  • On your next inward breath fill the lungs completely as you count to 10 and feel your top hand lifting high.
  • Exhale.
  • From now on inhale deeply but only to the count of 8. You will feel your lower hand still moving in the same way but the top hand does not move as much.
  • When you are ready lower your hand and keep breathing like this for as long as you like.


By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training