The cessation of the smoking habit can be made easier through yoga breathing exercises. Below, I have listed a few of my favourite ones.This list includes exercises such as the ‘Ha’ ‘Ha’ ‘Ha’ breath, which improves lung function and helps eliminate toxins, including nicotine and tar, from the lungs. This is a useful exercise to learn because it is a quick exercise to do. Yoga Nidra, which helps to oxygenate and cleanse the blood, takes longer, but it also relaxes the mind so that it can realize the new aspirations you have for it.
The HA HA HA BREATH. A great oxygenator of the blood which helps to expel toxins from the lungs. It is very easy to do:
Stand upright. Put the hands in prayer position in front of the chest. Inhaling, stretch up above the head with the hands still joined together in the prayer position. Hold the breath as you bend forward to put the hands on the bended knees. Lean the body forward, suck the tummy hard in, keep eyes bulged wide open with eyebrows stretched upward, mouth open, and say ‘Ha… Ha… Ha… Ha… Ha…’ until you have completely exhaled the breath. Make small, sharp ‘Ha’ sounds, more like a panting breath rather than a chant.
Put the hands together in prayer position again. Reach straight upward as you breath a deep breath in. Hold, then put the hands on the knees as before and repeat the ‘Ha’ ‘Ha’ breath until your lungs are empty.
Do once more from the beginning so that you do three complete rounds.
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATH. This is good for the mind as well as the lungs. Sit in cross-legged position, left hand over the left knee with thumb and middle fingers joined, palm upward. Close the eyes. Put the right hand forefinger and middle finger between the brows. Block off the right hand nostril with the thumb. Take a breath in through the open left nostril. Hold the breath, block off the left hand nostril with the fourth finger, and breathe out through the open right. Breathe in again through the right as you keep the left nostril blocked with the ringfinger. Then change sides as you hold your breath – block off the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand – the two fingers still over the eyebrow centre – and breathe out through the open left nostril. Breathe in again through the left nostril, as the thumb holds the right nostril down. Change fingers so that the left side is held down, release the thumb from the right nostril and exhale ……. and so on. Do five full rounds, then take the hand down from the brow to place over the right knee.
Now take one full breath in – hold- and breathe slowly out out as you sit, eyes closed. Repeat the full exercise another five rounds. (A round is the full cycle of breath in on one side, out through the other nostril, in through the same nostril, and out through the first nostril)
This exercise is very good for balancing the right and left side of the body. We tend to favour one side, but this exercise helps the weaker side of the body. Left brain and right brain functions are given energy and power through the practice of this exercise.
The BUTTERFLY EXERCISE. This is a beautifully gentle rejuvenating exercise, as the name implies. It is another great oxygenator of the lungs and blood, but it has value also because of the calm mind and emotions which result from its practice. Its calming effect is very helpful for people who are giving up smoking or some other addiction. It is safe to do as often as you feel the need for its benefits.
Stand facing the sun or an open window if you can. Arms are in a nice rounded position against the body, the fingertips of both hands touching lightly together at thigh level. Now we begin the first of the butterfly movements: Eyes open, look ahead and breathe in slowly and deeply as you bring the arms up together in front of the body, fingertips of both hands still touching as you do so. Keep the movement going upward, hands touching, as you continue to inhale.
You now should have a full breath in, and the hands are directly stretched out above the head, fingertips toughing. Now, breathe out SLOWLY as you separate the hands, bringing them down to the side of the body like a butterfly so that they are level with the shoulders. This is the halfway position.
Now, breathing in again, move the arms up above the head, again like a butterfly, until the fingertips touch. You have a full breath in at this point.
Now, breathing slowly out, take the butterfly movement all the way down the side of the body, arms outstretched, until the hands meet at the thighs. The arms now are nicely rounded as they were when we began this exercise.
Now, breathing in again, slowly bring the butterfly arms right up to the side of the body until they are above the head again. Your lungs should be full of good fresh air. Hold the arms and the breath briefly, then exhale slowly, bringing the arms down in FRONT of the body until they are in a nice curved position, fingertips of both hands touching lightly, the hands resting on the thighs.
This is ONE full round. Do another two rounds to make three full rounds. Then rest, breathing normally with the hands at thigh level.
YOGA NIDRA is a wonderful exercise for everybody who wishes to enhance their health and their enjoyment of life. See my post on YOGA NIDRA to save me from retyping this in here.
The SALUTE TO THE MOON is a soothing exercise which is very easy to do. It is good to do any time of the day if you are under stress. It can help you to sleep if you practice it before bed.
Kneel on the floor, or the grass if you are outside. Place the hands at the side of the body on the floor. Breathe in a full breath. As you breathe out, lean the body forward. Slide the hands, which are flat down on the floor, forward , alongside the knees. They should end directly in front of your head which is reaching to touch the floor in front of you. Join the hands together by making a triangle on the floor, thumbs touching, and index fingers touching above that. This forms the ‘moon’. Place your head into this triangle and rest there, breathing normally. Stay for three full breaths, then, as you inhale again, lift the body slowly to the upright sitting position and slide the hands along the floor until they are back where they started, beside the body and touching the floor.
Once you get the hang of it, you can do the movement easily and fluidly without looking at the instructions. Do three times in a row, with a full breath rest in between each ‘salute’.
This exercise is useful for flushing out poisons in the head area. This inverted posture is one which most people could do safely, whereas other inverted postures might prove difficult and unsafe for some.