Breath is life! From birth till your passing, you continuously breathe without even thinking about it. Our life starts and ends with respiration. You may be able to sustain without food or water for some time, but breathing is truly essential, without which you cannot survive. Hence, the importance of taking breath in a right manner. Regular proper breathing is the most crucial aspect for sustained healthy life. This has been ignored by humanity. It cannot be replaced by any other method.
Mouth Breathing Versus Nostril Breathing
You must check whether you are breathing from the mouth or from the nostrils. For example, observe while talking, are you breathing with mouth or nose in between? You may video record yourselves while speaking for five minutes and then review how many times you breathe through mouth. Or examine while walking, how are you breathing? Even while lying down, notice your breathing style. Many snore and breath through mouth. In any position you must breathe through nose. Also, watch your children for how they breathe?
Why is it important to breathe through nose? If we were supposed to breathe through mouth, we wouldn’t have had a nose! If you start breathing with mouth, the nose may become defunct and may get clogged as well, causing more problems.
In the nose we have hair and the passage is narrow. This purifies the air and also makes the air warmer. Mouth breathing is like drinking unfiltered water. The unwanted things and germs which could have been stopped in the nose itself, enter your throat and lungs when you breathe through mouth. Cold air without filtering going into the lungs directly can cause cold, cough or many other diseases. Warm air from nose can prevent such issues. And whatever is blocked in the nose can be expelled out while exhaling. So, you must exhale also through the nose. However, there are certain breathing exercises where you exhale from the mouth, for a specific purpose. Those are exceptions. In general, your inhalation period and exhalation period must be equal and also done through nose only. For example, in Rhythmic Yogic Breathing, the inhalation and the exhalation periods are equal.
Infants, with little help by moving their head forward, close their lips. You can therefore help them to breathe through nose instead of mouth. Similarly, by just tilting the head forward while sleeping using a small pillow and supporting the neck, you may help yourselves breathe through nose. By sleeping on the side also you may do nose breathing. You may try these positions to help adjust and breathe through nose. This can be the first useful correction in breathing that you can make.
Let us now discuss 5 deep breathing techniques to improve and sustain your health and immune system:
1. Rhythmic Yogic Breathing (RYB)
It has benefits at physical level, energy level, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. You can refer to the article on Rhythmic Yogic Breathing to understand these benefits and also the steps to practice it.
Many people may not explore, observe or understand the energy, emotional, mental or spiritual level benefits. However, you can at least monitor the physical level gains.
What all can you check for? Take people with oxygen saturation levels of 80-85. You may use an oximeter to check the reading. After that make them practice Rhythmic Yogic Breathing for five minutes or so. You will see that their saturation level will raise up to about 90 in most cases. If they do regular practice, it may not go down below 90 again.
In normal breathing, you do not use even 15% lung capacity. By practicing Rhythmic Yogic Breathing, minimum 60% lung capacity is utilized. So, the difference is about four-fold. That means four times more oxygenation of blood and four times more purification of blood too. With deep abdominal breathing, diaphragm moves down more efficiently and lungs get to expand to a greater extent. Therefore, you take in more oxygen. With abdomen going in during exhalation, diaphragm pushes up better, allowing the lungs to expel out effectively. So, considering deep inhalation and exhalation, it is already 16-fold improvement. Further, such purified and oxygenated blood aids better digestion and assimilation. This in turn results in better absorption of nutrients into the blood. Every organ benefits from such blood. This purified, nutrient and oxygen dense blood strengthens circulation, reduces pressure on your circulatory system and also heart pumping requirement decreases. Hence, your blood pressure drops, and pulse rate reduces, your system relaxes almost immediately. The functioning of your brain, nervous system, lungs and all other organs improve by the high quality oxygenated blood and more nutrients. Even elimination becomes better, with constipation issue sorted out by gentle massage of the internal organs including intestines, due to the movement of the abdomen and diaphragm. With better quality blood supply, chronic kidney problems start to heal too. Senility or loss of memory and few other diseases are due to lack of proper circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain. So, when someone is not well, make them do Rhythmic Yogic Breathing immediately and regularly.
Another important point is the warmness or heat generated when oxygen and carbon-di-oxide exchange happens. It is comparable to combustion or burning, which produces heat. With deep abdominal breathing more warmness is generated. People who have warmer blood are less prone to infections.
You may practice this breathing exercise three to four times a day, for about 5 minutes each. By doing it for just 5 minutes, the next subsequent couple of hours or more, your utilization of lung capacity will remain improved. Therefore, you continue to reap the benefit from this practice for several hours.
We are only purely stressing on the physical level benefits in more detail so that you can understand the importance of this practice. You may measure the improvement by oximeter for oxygen saturation, spirometer reading for the lung capacity, brain waves calming effect through EEG. You would come to alpha state (calmer state with brain wave frequency below 14 cycles per second) with just a few minutes of this breathing exercise.
You can measure Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which is connected with your stress levels. HRV is the difference or variance between the consecutive heart beats. Lesser HRV value indicates more stress. Also, when in higher emotional states of appreciation and happiness, the Heart Rate graph seems rhythmic with a beautiful sinusoidal wave. When you get disturbed, even if your HRV value may be higher due to your practice, the Heart Rate graph when plotted appears erratic.
You may also check the difference in your strength, endurance, improvement in mobility while climbing up, walking speed and distance, agility, quality of sleep, etc. by practicing RYB just for two days.
If you understand the energy aspect, the benefits are multiplied exponentially. And if you consider emotional factor, the mental element and the spiritual aspect, it is further multiplied to higher exponents!
All psychosomatic ailments are because of negative emotions and thoughts, such as, anger, stress, fear, etc. Psycho is mind and soma means body. All psychosomatic ailments will have reduced effect due to the balance you can achieve by Rhythmic Yogic Breathing.
Yogi Ramacharaka had stated, “An intelligent control of your breathing power will lengthen your days upon Earth by giving you increased vitality and power of resistance.” Your immune system will get boosted.
We have a research paper on the effect of practicing this breathing, meditation and other techniques, for a period of one month. With just one month of practice, there have been tremendous improvements!
How often should you practice?
Practice this breathing three times a day. In order to remember, maybe you can practice before each of your meal times for five minutes. If not feeling well, like you have cold, sore throat or any other health issue, practice it every two hours. If you get cramps in the morning or breathlessness at night, then additionally practice it before sleeping. Energy in the air is less post-midnight until sun rises in the morning (it is the least around 3:00 am to 4:00 am, depending on the season). Such practice before sleep helps you energize yourself and prepare in advance for the low energy condition at night and in the early morning hours. People with asthma, heart issues, skeletal-muscular problems, pains and aches can benefit tremendously by practicing this breathing regularly and also once before sleeping.
Increase in Vitality or Prana
Yogi Ramacharaka had said, “Verily breath is life!” Prana or energy is stored in the brain and certain nerve centers. It can be used later like a battery. Rhythmic Yogic Breathing increases the storage of prana. The power of advance spiritual practitioners is connected with its store and intelligent use!
Children need brain power. You can improve it. Make sure that children do breathing exercise 3 times a day. Even small children who are about three years old, can be taught this breathing.
With more energy storage, you can consciously or unconsciously radiate vitality and strengthen people around and improve their health also. When you exhale, you not only throw used up energy, but also emanate some of the healthy stored energy. Hence, people around you get benefitted even without any such intention. This was known as magnetic healing in earlier days. Healing can be extended to others this way. So, just breathe well and maintain yourself, people coming in contact with you will automatically get benefitted. You are healing them without actually healing them in a conventional sense. How much more will be the effect if you also meditate?
Oxygen is circulated through blood or circulatory system, whereas prana or energy is distributed through the nervous system. If your prana increases, your circulation improves, blocks start to get dissolved. They are both interconnected.
Nervous system gets exhausted by thinking, feeling, using will power and also by action. Now science agrees that more energy is consumed by our brain because our mental work load has increased tremendously in the present times. This is like, the smart mobiles today with additional functions compared to the earlier mobiles, require charging more often. As brain consumes more nerve force or prana, regular proper breathing exercise is even more critical in the current era.
Development of Will power
The involuntary system is controlled by emotions and the voluntary system is controlled by our thinking faculty. But because of our uncontrolled lower emotions, our thinking and therefore, our voluntary system also comes under the influence of emotions. You cannot voluntarily perform actions well when emotionally disturbed.
You develop your will aspect by doing breathing exercises, that is, by disciplining yourself to sit down and practice it, your will aspect in Ajna center develops. So, your nervous system, comes under the control of your will. Your health now comes under the control of the developed Ajna center, proportional to its development. Your thinking which was otherwise under the control of your emotion, is now under the control of your will. Hence, doing physical and breathing exercises develops your will power apart from other health benefits.
Tuning to the Universal Mind
With regular practice of Rhythmic Yogic Breathing, you have greater emotional balance and also mind comes under the control of the Jivatma or Incarnated Soul, due to the development of will. Rhythm steadily helps to tune up to the Universal Mind towards Atma or Higher Soul and Paramatma or Spirit. When you practice in rhythm, the Solar Plexus (the lower emotional center) normalizes and slowly you can tune up.
Knowing is good but not sufficient. You must practice, validate and promote it. It is Human Heritage! Once you find this breathing really useful, you have a duty and responsibility to propagate it using all your capabilities.
Yogi Ramacharaka in his Hatha Yoga mentions, “Eminent authorities have stated that one generation of correct breathers would regenerate the race and disease will be so rare as to be looked upon as curiosity.” This statement emphasizes the importance of breathing to stay healthy!
We shall discuss other four deep breathing techniques next week.
You may join our daily online sessions on Facebook to practice Rhythmic Yogic Breathing. We also practice few other breathing exercises, Forgiveness Sadhana, loving kindness meditations, such as, Planetary Peace Meditation, Metta Meditation or Great Invocation in these sessions in order to bless the entire Earth and your immediate environment, especially in these hard times. You can also experience a powerful guided Divine healing to remove any unwholesome tendencies and also for good health. These online sessions are now extended up to 31st March 2021 @ www.Facebook.com/ShriNJReddy. Timings: Morning 7.15 AM, Afternoon 1.00 PM, Evening 6.30 PM.
You may also try our YPV Sadhana app which is available in various languages for the guided tracks on the breathing exercises, Forgiveness Sadhana and Planetary Peace Meditation. These techniques also help boost your immune system and maintain it.