Power Yoga Breathing versus Traditional Yoga Breathing

By Larry Payne, Georg Feuerstein, Sherri Baptiste, Doug Swenson, Stephan Bodian, LaReine Chabut, Therese Iknoian

All forms of yoga breathing are similar, but they have subtle differences. If you’re a practitioner of traditional soft-form yoga, you need to note a few critical differences between the Power Yoga breathing techniques and those of your current yoga practice. With traditional yoga breathing, you use the complete yoga breathing technique, but in traditional yoga breathing, you expand the lower abdominal muscles on inhalations and contract those muscles on exhalation.

Incorporate proper yoga breathing, called ujjayi, in every Power Yoga pose. You know you have it down when you make a slight purring or hissing sound as you inhale and exhale. Follow these steps to become familiar with proper yoga breathing:

  1. Sit comfortably.

  2. Close your eyes and inhale slowly through your nose, fully expanding your lungs.

  3. Exhale just as slowly through your nose.

  4. Keep breathing through your nose and tighten your throat muscles a bit as you whisper “haaaaa” through your mouth.

  5. Continue breathing deeply and slowly, feeling and hearing the air passing through your slightly tightened throat and over the roof of your mouth.

In Power Yoga breathing, you keep your abdominal muscles firm and slightly contracted. When you inhale, you expand your chest and lift your rib cage. As you exhale, your chest sinks and your lungs contract. Your abdominal muscles remain engaged throughout the breathing cycle. The Power Yoga breathing technique is best for giving you strength and stability as you practice your poses, and this added stability can help you avoid injuries.