Breathing, yes of course we do it, if not we’d be dead, obvious isn’t it. But in the far east Breathing techniques have been used for centuries. Not only as a way of enhancing the health and vitality of both the mind and body, but also as a way of connecting to the Higher Spiritual Realms.
In the far east the practice is called Pranayama and is an integral part of Hatha Yoga. There has to be a word of caution, to the uninitiated, using Pranayama techniques too aggressively or forcibly can lead to damage to your heart, lungs or even mind. It’s always best to practice these techniques lightly, do not be in a hurry, the benefits can last all of your life.
And for your own purposes, it’s only the basic methods that are essential to collect Qi (chee or chi) in the body to be used by your Inner-Self to help manifest your desirable reality. If over time you feel the benefit of those gentle exercises, then that’s the opportunity to explore this area in greater detail and to find adequate instruction. The Indians developed the notion of Prana, a semi-mystical life force that pervades the entire body, which is responsible for life, health and transcendence.
The Chinese developed the concept of life force being Qi, a force which will help maintain life. The Chinese concept isn’t as mysterious as the Indian, but both came at a system that could benefit the body and mind using similar methods. Pranayama is a’Sanskrit’ word meaning’management of breath’. Its essence is in the modification of the regular process of breathing. Breathing is an act where we take air from the air into our lungs, absorb the oxygen out of it into our bloodstream, and expel the atmosphere into the air together with carbon dioxide and water vapor. Pranayama contains alterations of the breathing process, which we bring about deliberately and knowingly.
- By inhaling and exhaling quickly, taking shallow breaths.
- By inhaling and exhaling slowly, taking long or deep breaths.
- By stopping the action of breathing altogether.
We’re mostly concerned with No 2. This sort of breath control will enable us to make the necessary additional Qi(chee) our bodies will need to improve fitness levels and a clearer mind. The first Prana breathing methods were part of the ancient Indian Vedas some 1200 to 1500 BC. The most sacred Indian text of the second century BC that the’Bhagavadgita’ cites Pranayama as a way of spiritual enlightenment.
Although the practice of spiritual enlightenment is much less easy to measure, using Pranayama as a way of strengthening the health is well documented. Pranayama breathing techniques are frequently used as a precursor to meditation. Qi Qong, is comparable to Pranayama because Qi (chee) means breath or breath of life and’Qong’ means mental control over the entire body. It’s thought that Qi Qong is much older than Pranayama and ancient breath management practices became an important part of Chinese medicine. When you yawn, which could be now, seeing how we’ve mentioned it.
What to do?
Observe how you feel when the yawn has completed, your body will be relaxed, if you had any pain or distress, this would be relieved for a couple of seconds. This is a good example of how the shifting of your normal breathing pattern can bring a change to your body requirements. The Chinese believe it’s the disturbance of the flow of Qi within the body which causes many diseases and the re-establishment of the Qi (energy) flows which can result in an upturn in our wellbeing. Using these practices on a daily basis can give us a fantastic platform for strengthening our immune systems. A word of warning, be very mindful when doing this Pranayama (Yoga Breathing Exercise), and return to normal breathing if you are feeling light-headed, dizzy, or faint.
Remember we only want the basic breath control here, if you think Pranayama can bring you more advantages then search for one of the numerous great books available or even join a course. There are lots of postures recommended for Pranayama breathing exercises, most include the sort of sitting with crossed legs which could be found in many books or TV programs. Only a few people have the time to spend learning how to attain these postures, even though they can prove beneficial. But to begin your basic breathing exercise there’s only 1 rule, ‘NO slouching’.
If you would rather sit, maintain a straight back, then this can allow for the free passage of air between the throat, lungs and abdomen. Keeping a straight back will keep your mind more alert. Although you can lie down if necessary, it’s more challenging to perform deep breathing while on your back, initially anyway. If you would like to learn about another postures recommended, there are several great books available on Hatha Yoga.
Unless stated all inhalations and exhalations should be through your uterus, this enables the body greater control over respiration. To perform yoga belly breathing correctly you need to allow your lungs to fill from the ground up, this will assure you of maximum air absorption and penetration. The lungs lay just behind the rib cage and are attached to the ribs, they are consequently pulled open and shut by them. If you’re breathing only with the top half of the chest, the top of your lungs will open so the air fills them just up at the very top. If on the other hand you push your stomach out as you inhale you may expand your diaphragm first. The ribs will then push out and open the lower part of the lung . The air will then rush down into them to fill the vacuum and so fills your entire lung chamber from the bottom to the top. When you exhale, you’re in effect reversing the procedure, by pulling the stomach in at the end of the exhalation. This last motion pushes the air complexly from the lower part of your lungs and thus compels all the toxins of the used air from your lungs.