Here are three yogic breathing exercises I do as part of my morning wakeup routine:
1. 3-Part Breathing - Empty the lungs, then begin to breathe in to the stomach so it poofs out, then breath into the ribs so they expand, then breath into your upper chest so it sticks out. Hold for a count of 5. Then exhale from the top of the lungs, through the ribs, down to the stomach, pulling in the stomach muscles to completely empty the lungs. Do this 3-5 times. It is a very cleansing and revitalizing breath. Try one or two cycles of this throughout your day. It will oxygenate the brain, clear the lungs and improve digestion. (YouTube Demo)
2. Breath of Fire - Inhale and exhale normally, then forcefully exhale and inhale through the nose very quickly. Put emphasis on the exhale, letting the inhale take care of itself. Do 30 breaths, then rest, and do 30 more. This breathe stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, normalizes the endocrine system, and increases energy. (YouTube Demo)
3. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadisudhi Pranayama) - Hold up your right hand. Hold your thumb over the bent forefinger and middle finger with the ring finger and little finger straightened. Inhale, hold, and place the thumb on the right nostril to close it. Exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril. Hold. Close the left nostril with the ring finger, releasing the thumb from the right nostril. Breath out, breathe in, switch to the other side. Do 10-15 rounds. This type of breathing normalizes blood pressure, balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and resets the parasympathetic nervous system. (YouTube Demo)
These practices are enhanced by a sacred attitude, and an awareness of the miracle of life--indeed, the miracle of breath. Most of the detoxification of metabolic wastes from the body happens with the breath, and in yoga asana practices it is essential above all else. Yoga poses without breathing have little value. So, celebrate the breath! Breathe!