Breathing exercises or pranayama are not only important to your asana practice, learning to control your breath will be a boon to your meditation and your overall well-being. Each inhalation oxygenates the blood. Each exhalation purges the body of carbon dioxide, which is a toxic waste.
There are different styles of breathing practiced in yoga. Some breathing patterns are intended to generate heat within the body and focus the mind. Other types of breathing quiet the mind and create a sense of calm.
So take a deep breath, and enjoy!
Additional resources: Yoga Breathing, Pranayama - May Our Breath Be Our Prayer, Chakra Breathing Meditation
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