By Kimaya Singh
During a Yoga instructor training course you practice with interns and teachers. Yet, most of the students you teach will have difficulty with breathing. No yoga certification course will prepare you for the student who doesn’t know how to breathe.
Shallow breathers tend to take in small breaths without filling up the diaphragm or lower lungs with air. Most shallow breathers might be unaware of their habit until they realize how good they feel when they give deeper breathing a try. The chakra associated with breath and air is the heart chakra, or the Anahata chakra. There are many asanas, or yoga poses, that will help to open the heart chakra and allow it to fill with ample air. This will bring vitality and warmth into your life.
Heart Opening Asanas for Shallow Breathers
In general, heart-opening poses expose the chest and allow positive energy to flow in towards the heart. Any postures that pull the shoulders back, stretch the arms or include arching the back will help to open the heart chakra and improve airflow to the heart. It is easier to be conscious of shallow breathing when you are exposing your heart in this manner. Shallow breathers can then work to intensify each breath.
Heart Opening Wall Stretch
Kneel next to a wall, placing one palm and forearm flat against the wall. Twist slightly by pushing the outside shoulder back and slightly arching the spine. This will open the chest and provide a stretch to the heart. Hold this pose as you breathe deeply for one minute or longer. Repeat on the other side.
Begin in a seated position, tucking one leg in towards the pelvis and extending the other leg out with the foot flexed. Reach to the extended leg side with that same arm, placing the forearm on the floor next to the knee or calf. Reach up and back slightly with the opposite arm, opening the chest fully. Bring your gaze upward and breathe. Hold the pose for a minute or more and repeat on the other side.
Begin in the same leg position as the side stretch but turn your upper body forward over the bent knee. Allow the back leg to stretch long behind you. Support your upper body by bringing the opposite arm of the bent knee to rest in front of the knee on the forearm. Twist the upper body to the side of the bent knee to open the chest. Reach back with the opposite arm while you bend the back leg from the knee. Grab that back ankle with your arm, using a strap if necessary. Hold and breathe for a minute or more before switching sides.
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