Second post in the series of posts on yoga and meditation
Our breath is sacred. It continues through eternity. What started aeons ago when the single cellular organisms started breathing still continues. This sacred breath fills our spirit, surrounds our heart, clears our mind and strengthens our bodies. Breathing is the first lesson an infant learns.
Yet less is truly more in this case! It is a fact that the less we breathe the longer we live. When our ancient sages observed the breath very closely they found out that the tortoise takes three breaths per minute and enjoys a life span of 193 years. As babies we know how to breathe deeply, but as we grow up our breathing becomes shallow and inconsistent.
Pranayam, the science of breathing teaches us how to breathe correctly. It is a practice and as the word implies it needs to be done all the time. By controlling the breath, we can avail the mysterious power to healing body, mind and spirit. Prana circulates through every single cell of our body. With shallow breathing, we deprive our cells from oxygen and wonder while we suffer from diseases.
Using the full lung capacity is essential for core breathing. Most of us use only a fraction which makes it very shallow.
Breathing is of three types-
- Clavicular Breathing-This is most shallow of all breathing techniques. Here the abdomen contracts and shoulders and collarbone are raised. Lot of effort goes into breathing but the less amount of air is obtained.
- Thoracic Breathing-In this type of breathing the rib cage expands but breathing is incomplete.
- Deep Abdominal Breathing-This is considered the best as it helps in bringing air to the lowest and largest part of t lungs.
A complete yogic breathing is the combination of all the three. This technique is called Pranayam. When the vital force called Prana circulates freely through the body it calms the mind and rejuvenated body. Pranayam connects the outward and inner practice namely the asanas and meditation.
Ideally, Pranayam should be done at a peaceful place, near a river bank or in a garden. The best time is early morning.
The two basic Pranayams are Kapalabhati and Anulom Vilom
Kapalabhati– This involves forceful exhalations, which have a cleansing effect. It helps in expelling the old used air from the lungs filling with fresh air. It cleanses the whole respiratory system. This is extremely vitalising and once you fall in the routine you never want to miss it.
Anuloma Viloma– This is the technique of breathing with alternate nostrils. Starting from the left nostril you need to retain the breath and exhale through the right. This is done is a ratio of 1:4:2 seconds. It is then repeated with the right nostril. This helps in harmonising the nervous system and balances the brain activity.
It might seem simple but it is best to learn from an expert. Pranayam especially Anulom Vilom can be done by anyone, at any age. However, Kapalbhati should not be done if you suffer from high blood pressure.
If you have any medical problems the expert can help you to form a suitable program. Regular Pranayam is beneficial in any disease. However, it is always good to begin any yoga practice after consulting a physician.
A calm mind creates a healthy body. This is all you need to be happy. Breathe right, breathe deep and remain fine all your life.
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