5 Fast Facts About Deep Breathing

deep_breathing1. Breathing helps to burn calories by better oxygenating the blood. A California study found that women burned 140 percent more calories with 15 minutes of breathing exercises than by riding a stationary bike.

2. How the body removes its waste products by percentage.


Breath   70 %

Skin  20%

Urine  7%

Feces  3%

3. Deep breathing strengthens weak abdominal and intestinal muscles

4. Because oxygen is alkalizing to the body and carbon dioxide is acidic, when we’re not inhaling and exhaling fully, we tend to become overly acidic.

5. Deep breathing enhances immunity by eliminating toxins. While the heart is the pump for the vascular system, the lymphatic system has no real pump: It depends upon movement (exercise) and breath for stimulation. Properly used, the lungs act as sort of a suction pump for the lymphatic system.

Flying Upward to Infinity and Beyond – Uddiyana Bandha

Uddiyana-bandha-yogaUddiyana Bandha which means “Flying Upward” is the second of three energetic locks in the body. It is often engaged along with Mula Bandha (read my article here on the “root lock” Mula Bandha)


1. Strengthens the core muscles as when breathing this way the transverse abdominals are strongly engaged.

2. Stimulates the organs of digestion and elimination

3. Creates a lightness in yoga practice especially when practicing balancing postures including inversions and arm balances.


Not recommended if you are pregnant, are trying to get pregnant, have high blood pressure or experience dizziness. This is considered an advanced breathing technique so if you are new to yoga try it under the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher.

To practice Uddiyana Bandha

1.Stand with the legs a little wider than hip width apart and knees softly bent.

2. Inhale reach the arms overhead

3. Exhale all of the breath out through the nose, lean forward, press the palms into the knees, and engage the abdominal muscles to strongly pull the belly in and up under the ribcage.

4. Hold the breath as you hold the abdominal lock and take a mock inhale (perform the same action of an inhale without actually pulling any air into the body.) drawing the belly further up and in.

5. Hold for as long as comfortable.

6. Inhale soften the abdominals and let the belly drop.

7. Breath in and out through the nose and let the breath return to normal.

8. Beginners start with 3 rounds eventually working up to as many as 10 rounds for advanced practitioners.

Yoga and Your Core: How to Strengthen + Stabilize With The Breath

negative_pressure_breathing the mechanics of breathing diagram

Although we will are constantly breathing we give little thought to what is actually happening.

Let’s take a look…

Step 1. Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Step 2. Place your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest
Step 3. Breathe in a long, slow deep inhale through your nose. Notice how this will encourage a slight backbend in your lower back.
Step 4. Exhale slowly controlling the the exhale so it is long, slow and silky. Observe how this causes the lower back to flatten slightly.

What is happening:

On The Inhale:
The Diaphragm contracts (drawns down)

  • The sides of your body expand
  • The chest lifts
  • The back ribs expand
  • The belly expands
  • The pelvic floor muscles move down

On The Exhale:
The Diaphragm releases

  • The belly releases
  • The abdomen draws in
  • The ribs draw in and down
  • The pelvic floor lifts

Conclusion: The exhale has a stabilizing effect on your bodies core muscles when you engage in conscious breathing.

Why in Yoga Class Oxygen (Prana) = Life Force

I like to do a cleanse from time to time, and my personal favorite is the master cleanse. If you are unfamiliar with this cleanse it consists of being without food for the length of 10 days during which you consume copious amounts of fresh lemon water mixed with maple syrup and cayenne pepper. (It is actually quite delicious!) Despite that I have tons of energy, and tell people I feel fantastic it is funny to watch people’s reaction when they hear that I have not eaten in days. They quite literally fear for my life!

Contrary to popular belief however, it is very healthy to allow your body and your digestive system in particular, an extended break away from eating! The fact is, we can go for a long time without food, and for a shorter period of time without water. However, there is one vital nutrient that it is impossible to live without and that is oxygen!

It is the most important nutrient there is for our survival! Unlike food or water we can only survive a few minutes without air! Yet ironically, we tend to take the breath for granted!

Our brain is the first to suffer if we do not get enough oxygen. We become tired, irritable, sluggish and may even become depressed! Those who work in jobs in which they do a lot of sitting must be particularly mindful of becoming oxygen deprived. Since the blood carries the oxygen throughout the body when circulation decreases problems begin to arise.

Ways in which decreased oxygen affects our bodies include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart Attacks
  • Vision Problems
  • Hearing Problems
  • Poor Memory
  • Cancer
  • Decreased Cognitive Function
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Depression
  • On a more positive note research has shown that sometimes we can reverse health problems by re-oxygenating damaged cells! (Baylor University has shown that arterial disease in monkeys can be reversed by introducing oxygen back into the diseased arteries!)

    Since a lack of oxygen affects all of the tissues in our bodies it is easy to see why breathing properly is so important!

    Long deep breaths as in ujjayi help to induce the relaxation response in the body as well as oxygenate the blood. When we relax our bodies go from fight or flight’ mode to ‘relax and renew’. This is extremely important when it comes to the vital organs of the body.

    Let’s face it your body does not care how well you are digesting nutrients, eliminating toxins or healing when it thinks you need to escape grave danger. In the ‘fight or flight’ state our bodies revert to a primal state where all of our blood rushes to the extremities and away from the vital functionings of the body.

    In conclusion, nothing could be as important as the breath. The power of the breath is a gift given to us every moment that we are alive, remember to use it and you will blossom to your own highest potential!

    Yoga Backends For Bruised Ribs: Open up and Breath Deep!

    Mackenzie Miller and Andrew Abaria in a work of art by Robert Sturman for collection “Poetry of the Gods”

    In Yoga the Most Important thing is the breath…especially when bruised ribs make it hard to catch your breath.

    I know that you probably hear the teacher in yoga class (that would be me,… if you are coming to my classes) drone on and on about how important the breath is.

    Is it sometimes repetitive just how many times I will encourage my students to breathe? Yep. However, it is just that important!

    Need a breathing break? Well, first off you need to stretch out to make space for the breath!

    In light of that let’s head over to The Hot and Healthy Blog to see how my good friend Mackenzie Miller (former student and now a kick-ass teacher at the luxurious David Barton Gym in Seattle!) helps her friend open up!

    In article “Kick Your Bruised Rib to the Curb”
    she says:


    More Advanced:

    (“This pose you’d only want to twist and open up the side of the ribs that are bruised, since as you twist the other ribs are collapsed. This would be once you start feeling much better.”)

    “Please let me know if you have ANY questions. This is a good place to start. Even just laying off the edge of your bed and extending your arms overhead should give you an intense stretch. The most important thing is that you listen to your body and TAKE IT SLOW!”

    And then lets hear what YisforYogini has learned recently about breathing (also a former student and now in the midst of the 200 Teacher Training at Yogaworks with Kia Miller and David Kim)

    In her article { life’s parachutes } yoga + the diaphragm
    She says:

    “When you understand that your diaphragm draws down as you inhale and upward as you exhale, you can begin to comprehend HOW you make space. You can actually visualize what happens as you breathe, which is immensely helpful for being with and in your own body. Instead of being outside of it and experiencing respiration from a figurative distance, you’re now armed (diaphragmed?) with deep anatomical knowledge.”

    Mackenzie Miller and Andrew Abaria at lululemon for Robert Sturmans art show show off their mad yoga skills!

    Mackenzie Miller and Andrew Abaria at lululemon for Robert Sturman’s art show show off their mad ninja like yoga skills!

    Love Robert Sturman’s art? Get it on your ipad, itouch, or iphone!

    Breathe in, Breathe out, ahhh….

    Angela Kukhahn www.kukhahnyoga.wordpress.com April 8, 2010