Before starting the Asanas (as-anas) or the yogic postures, it is vital that you start with the practice of Pranayama (praa-na-yaa-ma) or the yogic breathing exercises.
And what is Yogic Breathing (Pranayama)
Pranayama is loosely translated as prana (pra-aana) or breathe control. Breathing affects our state of mind. It can make us excited or calm, tense or relaxed. It can make our thinking confused or clear. In the ancient yogic tradition, air is the primary source of life force, a psycho-physio-spiritual force that permeates the universe. Yogic breathing is used in yoga as a separate practice to help clear and cleanse the body and mind. It oxygenates the lungs by getting rid of enormous quantity of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases. It is also used in preparation for asana, the practice of yogic postures and meditation, to help maximize the benefits of the practice, and focus the mind.