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80-20 Breathing


Can you please explain 80-20 breathing and exhalation breathing?

The 80-20 breathing method is to be used for the standing postures and backbending poses. This method builds energy and equipose for the posture. Exhalation breathing is used in forward bending postures to help relax the body, compress the digestive organs, and promote proper forward rotation of the pelvis (thereby protecting the lower back from strain.)

80-20: Start your posture with a deep breath, and with lifted ribs and firmed, stretched abdominals, hold the breath in as if you were about to dive into a pool. Then as you're in the posture, breathe normally keeping your lungs 80% full. Exhale only the upper 20% of the breath and inhale into that upper 20%. Breathe softly gently through the nostrils with your mouth closed. This method of breathing is used in Half Moon, awkward pose, Eagle, standing head to knee, standing bow pulling, balancing stick, and triangle.

Exhalation: For the forward bending postures, such as Pada-hastasana and standing separate leg forehead to knee, simply exhale as you go into the posture, and then breathe normally while in the pose.

The standing pranayama breathing in the beginning of the series teaches you how to use your abdominals correctly to support the breath and the body in the postures. The feeling should be that your abdominals stay stretched and toned during the whole posture, both for the inhale and exhale. When your abdominals support the posture, your ribs can expand properly to allow the breath to fill the lungs. This trains all the muscles and organs involved in respiration; it regulates all the processes around respiration.

80-20: In this method of breathing, you take in a full breath. Go to the posture and continuously let out 20 percent of the air through your nose with your mouth closed. In postures that require 80-20 breathing, you need oxygen in the lungs to do the posture, so you will be able to maintain proper strength while performing the posture.

Exhalation: In exhalation breathing, you take in a full breath and exhale the breath completely when you achieve the posture. While you are doing the posture you should continue exhaling.

With either breathing technique, you should not strain. In the beginning, your lung capacity will not be large enough for you to sustain yourself with the above breathing methods. To prevent straining your lungs, take another breath as needed and continue with the breathing method. As your lung capacity improves and you improve doing your Yoga postures, you will find that following these breathing methods becomes as natural as doing the Yoga postures themselves.





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When I worked at a company, I suffered from depression. Therefore I wanted to study yoga, and I went thru the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Fall of 2006.




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