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Pranayama - Deep breathing

Deep Breathing

The total capacity of our lungs is about 6000 c.c., but during normal breathing we only breath about 600 c.c. air per breathe in to our lungs. In deep breathing the practitioner can inhale up to the total capacity of the lungs, which increases breathing efficiency per breath. The normal breath rate is 15 to 18 breaths per minute but in deep breathing this rate is reduced to about 4 to 8 breaths per minute.

The air is inhaled mostly using diaphragm or muscle of respiration and expanding the chest. The movement of abdomen helps the movement of diaphragm. The intercostal muscles help the movement of chest. In this the diaphragm movement requires less efforts than the rib movement and more air can be inhaled as the diaphragm can be vertically moved up and down to about 6 inches. So Deep breathing involves efficient movement of abdomen.

Following are the benefits of Deep Breathing -

  • Due to slowing of respiration rate (15 breaths/min to 4 breaths/min), the heart rate / pulse rate is reduced. The blood pressure is also reduced. So deep breathing is very good for stress and related ailments.
  • More oxygen is made available per breath, making the breathing most efficient.
  • Conscious deep breathing greatly affects the cortical activities, relaxing the nervous system, which calms the mind by removing thoughts and emotions.
  • Enhanced movement of the diaphragm gives good massage to the internal organs as liver, pancreas, stomach, heart, lungs are attached to the diaphragm which is moved up and down during the breathing.
  • It is observed that the animals who breath slowly have more life span, so reducing the breath rate with deep breathing may help increase the life span of human beings.

Practice -

  • Beginners can start with deep breathing practice in sitting position of lying down position.
  • Initially the ratio of 1:1, that is inhalation and exhalation counts are same. for example - 4 seconds inhale and 4 seconds exhale or 5 sec inhale and 5 sec exhale. You may practice it for 5 minutes initially, and gradually increase the time duration.
  • After practicing it for 10 minutes everyday, one can increase the ratio to 1:2, that is exhalation is twice of inhalation. for example - 4 seconds inhalation and 8 seconds exhalation or 5 sec inhale and 10 sec exhale.

References -

  • Prana Pranayama Prana Vidya - Swami Niranjananda Saraswati (Bihar School of Yoga, Munger)
  • Pranayama - Yogacharya Vishwas Mandlik (Rishi Dharmajyoti), Yoga Vidya Gurukul, Nasik.
  • Pranayama - Yogacharya Vishwas Mandlik (Rishi Dharmajyoti), Yoga Vidya Gurukul, Nasik.