Study of Breathing - A Way to Live a Healthy Life
Yogacharya Vishwas Mandlik
Breathing is classified into three types according to its rate.
- The normal and natural steady breathing without any particular effort.
- Deep breathing that takes place after bringing breathing speed to minimum possible extent with some extra efforts.
- Third is fast breathing with extra efforts to increase breathing speed.
We are going to study first two types.
All the movements of the body as well as within the body are continuously taking place due to the mild, slow burning taking place in body. This burning is a result of breathing and blood circulation. Naturally any action of the body or in the body directly affects both blood circulation and breathing. This ensures the necessary oxygen supply for movements with eventually increased breathing speed. If the body movements are speedy, then breathing speed also increases proportionately. Hence breathing is steady, when there is no body movement and it is in natural condition. This is true when we say breathing is steady. There is absolutely no control in this type of breathing. On the contrary it helps to stop the external movement of the body and eventually helps to keep it steady. It is very essential to breath in this steady manner when we remain in final posture for some time.
After studying the process of breathing, our aim is to achieve complete control over it. Hence as a first step towards the study, it is better to study deep breathing. We do not have any control over it in the process of steady breathing. But it is very essential to achieve it in the process of deep breathing. Very keen efforts have been taken to reduce the rate of breathing in this process of deep breathing. Two important things are required to be taken into consideration. First is to achieve control over these movements which are necessary for puraka-rechaka actions and secondly to reduce the speed of these actions. Due to this, breathing will take place more and more slowly.
Similarly our aim is also to reduce the requirement of oxygen by the body. The construction of a body is such that, the speed of breathing will not reduce unless and until we reduce the use or need of oxygen for it. In such cases it may either be more difficult to have control over such movements or may become really impossible. One way to reduce the need of oxygen for body is to completely stop any movement of body by allowing all the muscles to relax. That means, while studying deep breathing, the state of body is to be maintained as told above. For this purpose, take any state that is related with Dhyana. Padmansa is the best option for it. If not, Vajrasana or Swastikasana. Once you become steady in Asana, this pleasing steadiness is to be retained till the end of study. Otherwise, after some time your muscles may feel strenuous and may start paining, which would disturb your concentration in the study. Hence sit in such an Asana in which you could attain steadiness and pleasure. Keep your hands in the state of Dyanmudra. Close your eyes and straighten your neck and spine so that, it would help you to concentrate at your mind. The rate of breathing is steady, because we have not yet achieved control over it.
In such breathing normally movement of chest does not take place rapidly. This breathing takes place due to the movements of muscles of stomach and respiratory organ. After sometime of breathing, try to attain control over both of them by reducing their movements considerably. Study of deep breathing takes place after performing puraka and rechaka successfully. Try to do deep puraka to the maximum stage as you can and similarly do the prolonged rechaka-in the preliminary stage. You can perform such puraka and rechaka number of times after your consistent study. You may feel tired after particular interval of time and so it would be difficult to do breathing in such a systematic manner. At such time, do start with the natural steady breathing by removing the control over it. Then again practice deep breathing after some time. Thus after studying deep breathing in this manner for few days, try to apply time bindings over puraka and rechaka i.e. try to do puraka in the same time as that of rechaka. It is called a same-time, same-speed deep breathing. Keep counting numbers in mind while doing this study. Suppose if you do puraka upto no.4, then you should complete rechaka up to no.4 only. Normally in initial stages, rechaka completes just to the no. 2 or 3. Thus, it is very important to have a control over speed of rechaka and keep it as low as possible. You will find it easier after the study of few days. To measure the time required for puraka and rechaka, you can make use of a second hand in clock. You should be able to practice this process for 10 to 15 minutes consistently. But this is not an easy task. You may feel tired in first 2/3 minutes only. Then you will have to do steady breathing. It is certainly achievable after a continuous study.
As you go on reducing the rate of steady breathing, the deep breathing takes place. On the contrary if you increase this rate effectively, fast breathing takes place.
Bhramari is one of the types of Pranayama. But we will not learn Pranayama in this primary syllabus. As Pranayama is very easy and useful, we will only study a part of it here. It is advisable to study it in Vajrasana and Swastikasana.
We have studied deep breathing earlier in this chapter. Same deep breathing, we have to perform here. Only at the time of releasing breath, your mouth has to be closed and then create a sweet humming sound by nose like a black bee. That means you have to take in ample air through your nostrils and create this sound thorough your throat. Breathe out very slowly and at the same time make this sound very steadily. Again breath in, create same sound and release it again. Like this, you can perform 10-15 such repetitions. Due to this sound, such vibrations are also felt in the body. It helps to calm down your mind. Along with the peace of mind, you can enjoy the benefits of deep breathing. Thus, it is advisable to practice Bhramari at the end of your daily study.
Shitali is a type of Pranayama. We are going to learn an easy part in Pranayama. There is a special technique of breathing in this type.
Try to suck in air by making your mouth like a flask and by turning your tongue inwards. This is called as kaki mudra. Perform puraka in kaki mudra and do rechaka in bhramari as told above. This type may also be called as (shitali puraka + bhramari rechaka). Perform such 21 repetitions in this manner.