Importance of the breathing practice


Umang Chhatrola

Advanced Yoga Practices (AYP) Teacher

To live properly is to breathe properly. How long can we stay alive without food? Probably for a few days. We can even go on without water for some time. But how long can we stay alive without breathing? Not more than a few minutes.

Breathing is not just a mechanical process of inhalation and exhalation. There is so much more to it than meets the eye. Our breathing process is very intimately connected with our mind. That’s why whenever someone is nervous, we advise them to take a few deep breaths.

Breathing properly is a very simple and a very powerful way to bring health and harmony in our life.

What is the correct way of breathing? We have heard the phrase ‘belly breathing’. That is the way we used to breathe as babies. As we grow, we start breathing into our chest because of pressures of the world and clothing restrictions. Proper way to breathe or yogic way of breathing is to take a very deep and slow breath into our belly and then into our chest. That way we can fully utilize the maximum capacity of our lungs. Then we slowly exhale all the air out first from our chest and then from our belly (or abdomen). That is the procedure. The words ‘deep’ and ‘slow’ are keywords. We breathe as deeply and slowly as possible. As mentioned earlier, our mind and breath are connected. So, breathing slowly automatically calms down our mind. And breathing deeply is healthy for our body, of course. So that is the technique.

Now, let us discuss some practical considerations. Would we consciously breathe in this manner all day long? It probably wouldn’t be possible to do. So, we set aside a few minutes twice a day to practice for 4 to 5 minutes each time. And we just breathe slowly and deeply during our practice. It is possible to do this without affecting our daily schedule. Would it be effective? Yes, surely. Over time, we would find ourselves breathing deeply and slowly during the rest of the day even when we are not practicing. We practice something or some activity to get better at it outside of our practice. In this case, the activity is our breathing itself - the most important activity.

This little breathing practice will end up enhancing our life and health in many ways. So, let’s start ‘belly breathing’ from today itself.

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