You may have the mistaken idea that Yoga is just the next best workout offered among a smorgasbord of options.

Yes, Yoga can be a workout and a really good one for all the muscles and joints. You can stretch and strengthen with Yoga and get the best workout of your life. Just ask Madonna. I read, several years ago, that after she discovered Ashtanga Yoga, (a rigorous style and practice), she never went back to the gym again.

But beyond the physical training offered by Yoga, and the calming serenity you may feel after a class, Yoga can give you a whole new way of looking at breathing. For those with asthma or other breathing problems Yoga can definitely help retrain you in how to breathe better … more deeply, more fully and more slowly.

Most of us take our breathing for granted. We inhale; we exhale; that's it. But what if we consider something we do so many times each day, sometimes we better take another look at our breath and make breathing more conscious.

Dr Andrew Weil, the eminent physician and author, incorporates complimentary medicine into his practice and his writings about health. He includes the instruction of how to breath consciously when treating his patients for all kinds of ailments. He reports much healing success through learning to breathe properly.

In Yoga there are many breathing techniques. Some to calm, some to balance, others to energize you.

I personally have three favorite methods. All can be done sitting on the floor crossed legged or in a straight back chair. If they are sitting, it is best that your spine be upright, rather than leaning back. Or you can lie down on the floor or a bed and practice the following techniques. You will see the good results in a short amount of time.

1. Diaphramatical Breathing

Diaphramatical or belly breathing is the natural way to breathe but many of us do upside down breathing by sucking in the belly on the inhale. This breath gets oxygen into the lowest region of the lungs. Place your hands gently over your belly. As you inhale through your nose allow the belly to expand into your hands and as you exhale through the nose the belly moves back toward your spell, squeezing all the air out. Then you start the next inhale.

2. The complete Yoga Breath

This breath access the lungs full capacity to breathe and getting the breath into all three chambers of the lungs.Place you left hand gently on your belly and your right hand over your heart. As we did before inhale and expand the belly and then continue to lift the inhalation through the ribs, all the way up to the heart area. Hold the breath in for a moment at the top and then breathing through the nose, slowly exhale down the torso. When you get to the bottom, contract the belly a bit to squeeze all the air out. Then begin again.

You may slowly inhale up for the count of three, hold at the top for the count of four and then slow the exhale down for the count of seven. Repeat as many times as you would like.

3. The Ha Breath

Take a deep breath through your nose and open your mouth and let ot the sound of a gentle “ha”. Allow your mouth and jaw to relax as you exhale all the breath.Repeat three times anytime you feel stressed and you will feel the anxiety just floating away.

by Angelena Craig