Breathe More Easily With These 4 Yoga Moves

Inhale. Exhale.

By Kate Waitzkin
yogas poses to help you breathe easier

Breathing is a bodily function – part of the autonomic nervous system – that many of us take for granted until we experience some sort of difficulty or shift in the way we breathe. Many factors can contribute to an interruption or shift in your natural flow of breath, including seasonal allergies, the common cold, daily stress, and postural misalignment, to name a few.

Try this quick sequence at any time during your day to help open the structural space around your lungs and support a deep, nourishing, oxygen-rich breath.

This sequence is not a prescription for serious illness – please listen to your body and seek the help of a doctor or trained professional, if necessary.   

Seated Side Stretch

Props: Optional folded blanket

Sit cross-legged at the center of your mat. If you have difficulty sitting up straight with ease, place a folded blanket or a block under your seat.  Rest your hands on your thighs and take a few breaths to root down through your seat as you lift up through the crown of your head.

Place your right palm down to the outside of your right hip (about one foot away). Inhale your left arm up alongside your ear with your palm facing to the right.  With an exhale, bend your right arm (aim your elbow back in towards your hip) and side bend up and over to the right. Keep your left sit bone rooted into your mat or blanket as you stretch long through your right side body. Gently rotate your chest up towards the ceiling.  Stay here for 5 deep breaths. With each inhale, imagine your right rib cage expanding with breath. With each exhale, root your left sit bone down towards the earth.

Inhale back to center.  Repeat on the second side.

Side Angle Pose

Stand in the center of your mat facing the long edge. On an exhale step your feet 3 ½ – 4 feet apart.  Bring your hands to your hips and rotate your right foot out to the right so it is now pointing towards the short edge of your mat. Turn your left foot in on a slight angle. Inhale and raise your arms out parallel to the floor. Exhale and bend your right knee being sure to track this knee over the center of your right foot.

On an exhale, bring your right forearm to rest lightly on your right thigh and turn your palm towards the ceiling.  Inhale your left arm straight up towards the ceiling, turn your top palm to face your head, then reach your arm up and over your ear.

Stay here for five to ten breaths.  Press through the outer edge of your left foot as you reach long through your left fingertips. Energetically lift up out of your right forearm and roll your right shoulder away from your ear.

To come out of the pose, press down through both feet and inhale up to stand. Parallel your feet once again and repeat on the second side.

A note about doTERRA essential oils

Incorporating essential oils into my yoga practice is one of my favorite ways to bring an enhanced sense of ritual and presence into the experience. Whether my intention is to ground my energy, uplift my mood or bring clarity by shifting my perspective, these therapeutic-grade, ethically sourced oils by doTERRA are my go-to. I keep oils within easy reach all over my home and my family and I use these oils daily for everything from an immune boost to digestive issues to trouble sleeping.  For all things respiratory, I swear by the BREATHE blend by doTERRA.

Contact Kate directly to learn more and try the oils : [email protected].

Bridge Pose

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-distance apart and parallel. Rest your arms down alongside your body and turn your palms to face the floor. Gently press down through all four corners of your feet (big toe mound, pinky toe mound, inner and outer heel). Maintain awareness on the four corners of the feet, begin to engage your lower belly and lengthen your tailbone away from your lower back.  Slowly lift your hips up and away from the floor.

Gently wrap your right shoulder then your left shoulder underneath your body. Keep your palms flat or, if it is available to you, interlace your hands behind your back.  Allow your inner thighs to soften towards the floor and continue to thread your tailbone away from your lower back (towards the back of your knees). Root down through your upper arms and lift your chest towards your chin.  Keep your chin moving slightly away from your chest.

Stay here for five to ten breaths.  Release the clasp of your hands, untuck your shoulders and gently roll down one vertebrae at a time. Rest your hands on your belly, close your eyes and take a few breaths observing the energetic effects of this pose.

Wild Thing

Start in Downward Facing Dog with your hands shoulder distance apart.  Spread your fingers and palms wide.

Inhale forward to plank pose bringing your shoulders over your wrists. Roll to the outer edge of your right foot and bring your left foot to stack on top of your right in side plank pose.  Lift your hips up away from the earth and keep your right (bottom) shoulder rolling open and away from your right ear.

Lift your left foot and step it behind your right leg. Place your toes on the floor and keep your left leg slightly bent. Press your bottom hand and both of your feet down into the earth as you lift your hips and stretch your top arm overhead. Stay here for three to five breaths.

On an exhale, slowly transition back to Downward Facing Dog and come to rest in Child’s Pose.

tutorial and demo by Kate Waitzkin

photography by Dagny Piasecki

location SHDW Studios