Art of Breathing

"Life is nothing but a series of breaths" is very well known proverb in Hinduism. Life is entirely dependant on our breath. Breath is ever-present from the moment a baby comes crying on earth till last gasp of a dying man. We can live for many days without food and water but a few minutes of life without breath is not possible. Right from our birth we are taught how to do this and that is our life but non one teaches us how to breathe. That is why people develop many disease that shorten life span.

If we notice our breathing pattern we may notice that some of us bill up upper part of chest or middle part of chest or the lower part of chest while inhaling air. Yoga says that each of this breathing pattern is incomplete. During these processes only 25% to 40% of lungs are filled with air and the rest of lung volume remains unused. Our Ancient yogis discovered the importance of regular and complete breathing. The complete yogic breathing consists of three parts. It includes utilizing abdomen, chest and collar bones in the breathing. Now we shall study these three step by step.
1. Breathing from abdomen can be done while standing, sitting or lying on one's back. The easiest method is to put right hand on the abdomen so that moment may be felt. Now inhale the air and feel the right hand going up and outwards. This shows that the air is filling in the lower part of lungs. now inhale and feel the right hand is sinking. This action can be repeated many times.
2. Second step is breathing from the middle part of chest. Now put your hands on middle of chest and inhale slowly inflating the sides of chest then exhale. By this process middle of chest gets good amount of air. This process can also be repeated several times.
3. The third step is breathing from the upper part of lungs. Now put your hands on collar bones and take a deep breathe, contract stomach slightly. This will push your collar bone upwards and fill up the upper part of lungs. Now slowly exhale and this will bring our collar bone back to the previous place. This breathing exercise can be repeated several times.
Clubbing these three steps in a single breath is truly called yogic breathing. Yogic breathing has several advantages. It improves the functioning of intestines the circulation and calms the brain and nervous system. A relaxed expression appears on the face by regular yogic breathing. It allows more oxygen into the body, relives the aging of muscles. It is very helpful for the patients of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Arthritis and many chronic diseases. Patients of Asthma and allergy and skin disorders are very much benefitted by practicing the yogic breathing. It sends soothing rhythmic vibrations to the whole body. It improves stamina and very useful for age related diseases. There are few conditions in which this type of breathing should be done under the supervision of yoga expert and a physician so before starting the true breathing it is advised to consult both for getting maximum benefits.
Dr. Gagan Thakur
Therapeutic Yoga Course
Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar.