Breathing while practicing
Most of the Yoga exercises I practice are a series of movements in which I breathe unconsciously. I focus on moving or holding the postures and less on my breathing.
When I move my body by stretching, bending, twisting, etc., my ‘breathing app’ adapts spontaneously to my activity. For example, some postures restrict my lung expansion, and others allow my lungs to expand freely. My ‘breathing app’ gets information from the stretch sensors in my lungs and factors in the information when sending the activating signals to my breathing muscles.
Some practitioners feel they mastered a physical exercise when it’s first clear to them how they breathe from start to finish. In any case, parallel execution of movement and conscious breathing requires practice.
Awareness of my breathing while exercising has many advantages. However, if I need to ‘look for my breath and find it,’ it may reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.
Breathing with and against the movement
I tend to exhale when: closing, twisting, bending, or folding towards my body.
I tend to inhale when: opening, untwisting, erecting, or unfolding away from my body.
Breathing against the movement is when I do the exact opposite of ‘with the movement.’ It also has merits; it stretches and pulls the lungs. This ‘anti-motion’ is an essential part of some breathing practices.
Some physical exercises have a completely different effect on me, depending if my lungs are full or empty or if I’m breathing with or against my movement while exercising.
A long exhalation with the movement while assuming a posture allows me to ‘melt’ into the pose. But I pay attention not to ‘over-melt,’ overdo it and feel discomfort. If I melt into the posture while exhaling, empty my lungs, and keep the pose; the following inhale adds an extra bit of stretching. That is a good way to advance stretching abilities slowly.