During class, correct breathing is of the utmost importance, and will help your practice tremedously. There are two types of breathing techniques used in Bikram yoga. They are each used for different poses.
The 80-20 breath is appropriate for use with standing poses and backbends. Using this breathing technique helps you maintain a strong feeling of balance and raises your energy levels within the pose.
The exhalation breath is used during forward bending poses.
1. Begin by taking a full breath as if you were about to head underwater, lifting your ribs while engaging and stretching the abdominal muscles.
2. Move into the pose while exhaling out 20 percent of the air through your nose with your mouth closed.
3. Inhale 20%. Continue with this 20% exhalation and inhalation as you hold the pose, keeping the lungs 80% full. The oxygen is needed to perform the pose.
4. Exhale completely once you finish the pose. The 80-20 breath is used for balance and energy while doing the standing poses and the back-bending ones.
5. Do not strain with this breathing technique. Beginners to the 80-20 breathing technique are advised to take additional breaths as needed to prevent straining the lungs. As lung capacity improves, the 80-20 breath will become easier and more natural.
The Exhalation breath:
1. Inhale deeply as you begin the pose
2. Exhale completely as you achieve the pose.
The Exhalation breath is used while practicing the forward bending poses. This breath prevents lower back strain, helps the pelvis to rotate properly, tightens the abdominals to tone the body and exercises the digestive organs to help in digestion.
*The deep breathing associated with yoga practices of all types oxygenates your blood in a way that normal, shallow everyday breathing cannot. Yogic breathing mimics the breathing of deep sleep. It relieves muscle tension and helps you relax; with practice, Bikram yoga breathing techniques, as well as other yogic breathing techniques, can improve your overall respiratory performance.