What is Yogic Breathing?
God has created the mind and vital breath (Prana) for the movement of this physical body. Without Prana the physical body is no more than a lump of clay. Body’s functioning stops if vital breath (Prana) moves out of the body. When mind works the Prana moves. The relation of mind and Prana is akin to a vehicle and its driver where both exert motion on each other. Therefore, the wise man should study correct breathing if they like to hold off the flickering mind and concentrate. After learning the science of breathing, a person learns regulation of breathing which leads to all happiness, material and spiritual, from acquiring the kingdoms to supreme bliss.
In order to inhale maximum amount of air through minimum effort, the following tests are conducted. These tests provide the knowledge regarding the inhaling of maximum air into the lungs with less effort and will prove how yogic breathing is better compared to other types of breathing.
Type 1 –
Abdominal Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing or Low Breathing or Deep Breathing:
Sit in any cross legs position keeping your spine straight, neck and head in one line and relax the abdominal muscles. Try not to bend the spine. Start a stop watch. Now inhale deeply while allowing the diaphragm to descend without raising the chest and shoulders.
In Abdominal or Diaphragmatic breathing the diaphragm contracts and tries to become flattened while inhalation and so it pushes the abdominal cavity and forces the abdomen to expand.
Type 2 – Thoracic breathing or Mid Breathing by expanding chest:
Sit straight as stated in Type 1 breathing. Do not allow your abdomen to expand because if abdomen expands then it is abdominal breathing as stated in breathing type 1. Now inhale by expanding the chest. Here the breathing is performed using the respiratory muscles only with no involvement of abdomen.
Practice this type 2 breathing several times and note down the time needed for inhalation.
Type 3 – Thoracic breathing or High Breathing by contracting abdomen:
Sit straight as in previous tests and inhale while contracting the abdomen towards thoracic cavity.
Repeat this test several times and find out the average time needed for inhalation in this test.
After these three types of tests, try to find the difference between all the breathing types and try to find out which type of breathing brings in more air to the lungs with minimum effort. You will soon realize after comparison that type 1 breathing or abdominal breathing brings more air to the lungs compared to type 2 and type 3. Breathing type 2 is better than type 3 but inferior to type 1. Breathing type 3 is worst of all where the least air is inhaled with shoulder and collar bones raised and a contracted abdomen.
A lot of people use type 3 breathing wherein they apply maximum energy to get minimum amount of air. People who use type 3 breathing usually suffer from vocal organ and respiratory system diseases. Many people with acute asthma complaints have been relieved from asthmatic problem after they changed their breathing habit to type 1 or abdominal breathing.
The breathing type 1 or abdominal breathing is more efficient of all types of breathing techniques and is also known as deep breathing or low breathing.
After the above demonstration, it must be clear that the abdominal breathing is the correct type of breathing that everyone should use. If you are not using abdominal breathing in your normal breathing then you are not utilizing the lung space properly and so giving rise to lots of diseases unknowingly.
In the yoga system of breathing, all the above said methods are used simultaneously i.e. while inhaling start with low breathing and continue to chest breathing and finally finishing with high breathing. This type of inhalation brings in complete respiratory system into play and no portion of the lungs is left unfilled with fresh air. This type of breathing is called Yogic Breathing and to master Yogic Breathing one has to learn different types of Pranayams.
How to change your breathing habit/type?
If you are using abdominal breathing as your natural breathing then it is the best gift you can give to your body. But if you are not using abdominal breathing as your natural breathing and want to switch to abdominal breathing then initially it will be difficult. It is like learning to ride a bicycle but with a few months practice abdominal breathing will become your natural breathing.
To switch to abdominal breathing, start your day with breathing techniques or Yogic Breathing or Pranayams. Whenever you are free even for a second or a minute or an hour, switch your breathing to abdominal breathing and keep counting your breaths. Initially you need to consciously bring your focus to the breathing, later on with practice your mind will automatically switch to abdominal breathing whenever you are free. With a little more practice the abdominal breathing will become your natural breathing and then you will start enjoying your breath and you will get all the benefits that accrue from it.
It may take a month or so to switch to abdominal breathing but it is really worth the effort, as the marvelous benefits it is going to give you, will last you for the rest of your life and beyond.
The above article is taken from the book “Breathe 100% for 100% Life” by MD Singh available for download from Amazon and Smashword: