How Yogic Breathing can be of help to you
The science of yoga has takes the most thorough care of the human body and all of its functions – from breathing to elimination. Its methods are entirely different from other methods of health education because Yoga aims, first of all, at removing the very causes of ill health which are brought about by insufficient oxygenation, poor nutrition, inadequate exercise and poor elimination of the waste products that poison our system. Secondly, through rhythmic breathing and concentration, as well as by influencing our glandular activity, Yoga can help to increase our mental capacities, sharpen our senses and widen our intellectual horizon. Finally, through meditation, it enables you to come closer to the realization of your own spiritual nature.
Yoga emphasizes our relationship to the universe and therefore teaches a breathing different from the usual breathing – a breathing that reflects our inner attitude while we are performing it. This attitude is one of devotion toward the communication with the All and should be maintained all the time one is doing deep breathing.
Since you know how to do deep breathing while asleep, a simple method of learning to do it during wakefulness should be to simulate sleep. Lie down, close your eyes, relax the whole body, drop the chin and imagine that you are asleep, thus letting your breathing become deeper and deeper.
An important thing to remember is that while doing deep breathing the spine should be kept straight so as not to impair the free flow of the life-force, or Prana. This also helps to develop correct posture. Therefore, either sit on a chair, sit on the floor cross legged in Lotus pose, or stand up.
Concentrate on the pharyngeal space at the back wall of your mouth and, slightly contracting its muscles, begin to draw in the air (through the nose) and through that space as if you were using a suction pump. Do it slowly and steadily, letting the pumping sound be clearly heard. Let your ribs expand sideways like an accordion – beginning with the lower ones. Pause for a second or two holding the breath.
Then slowly begin breathing out. The exhalation is usually not as passive as the inhalation. You use a slight, a very slight, pressure to push the air out although it feels as though you pressed it against the throat like a hydraulic press. The upper ribs are now contracted first, the nostrils remain inactive and the chest and shoulders motionless. At the end of the exhalation, pull in the stomach a little so as to push out all the air. You have just taken your first deep breath.
Start by breathing to the count of four, then hold the breath, counting two and start slowly exhaling. Breathing in and out to an equal number of beats is called rhythmic breathing. You allow four beats to fill your lungs, two to retain the breath and four to breathe out. The respiration should be timed in such a way that at the end of the four beats you have completed the exhalation. Don’t stop at the end of the count when there is still air to be expelled. You should adjust your breathing to the timing.
Do not take more than 5-6 deep breaths at one time during the first week. This is enough for today. Be careful not to overdo the breathing, especially inhalation, as this may lead to unpleasant results such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, even fainting spells due to hyperventilation caused by a sudden excessive intake of oxygen. Please be patient.
Rythmic breathing and relaxation exercises enable us to overcome muscular tension and mental strain.
As you progress, you will be able to increase the inhaling counting time to six, then hold the breath for four, exhale for six.