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Breathing Techniques (Part-1)

Updated on January 25, 2013

Breath Control

Breathing is the most vital process of the body as it affects the activities of each and every cell in our body, most importantly the brain cells. It is generally seen that most people breathe incorrectly, using only a small portion of their lung capacity. The breathing is not deep enough to pump in enough oxygen to the body cells as a result of which people, often, feel tired, disoriented and drained out. Irregular breathing disrupts the rhythms of brain and leads to mental block which results in disordered lifestyle, imbalanced personality, disease and negative thought process. Although breathing is an involuntary process but it is possible to take a conscious control of it by following simple steps of ‘Pranayama’ (Prana means ‘vital energy’ of ‘life force’ and Yama means ‘Control’).



It is the life force which exists in all beings, animate and inanimate. Although, it is widely interpreted as ‘air we breathe’, it is more subtle than air or the oxygen we inhale. ‘Pranayama’ should not be merely considered as a breathing process; it is a process by which the ‘life force’ is channelized through the energy centers in our body with the help of proper breathing techniques. Pranayama helps in maintaining physical and mental health by removing blockages in the energy centers, enabling an increased absorption of ‘Prana’ or ‘life force’. A spiritual seeker requires tranquility of mind before starting with meditation and other spiritual practices. The process of breath retention (exercised during Pranayama) establishes a control over the flow of ‘vital energy’ in and out of the body, thereby controlling the thought process and calming down the mind.

Simple Do’s and Don’ts

1. Always breathe through the nose and not the mouth. Before starting the process make sure the nose is clean and free from blockages.

2. The best time to practice Pranayama is during early morning hours and if that is not possible, sunset would be another good time to do so. It can also be performed just before going to bed but it is important to adhere to one designated time schedule every day. Regularly practicing ‘Pranayam increases strength, will power and clarity of mind.

3. You can select any quiet, clean and ventilated room in your house. Avoid direct sunlight or the even sitting near air conditioner while doing Pranayama. It can upset the body temperature and might cause overheating or unnecessary chills as the case may be.

4. Sitting posture is very important to take care of. The body should be as relaxed as possible with the spine, neck and head erect. To make yourself comfortable, you can choose to sit on a cushion or a folded blanket during the process.

5. Pranayama must be practiced after yogic exercises (if you are practicing yoga) and before meditation. After Pranayama, you may lie down on your back for some time and let the body relax.

6. Loose and comfortable clothes should be worn during the process and it is advisable not to take a shower for at least half an hour after Pranayama. The purpose is to allow the body temperature to come back to normal.

7. It is advisable to practice Pranayama empty stomach or else at least four hours after a meal. Food in the stomach puts pressure on the diaphragm and the lungs, making full and deep respiration difficult.

8. A balanced diet containing protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals is suitable for Pranayama practices.

9. The most important thing is ‘not to rush’ and ‘not to push yourself’. Do not go beyond your capacity. Breath retention should be practiced only as long as it is possible and comfortable. Body needs time to adjust with any change imposed on it. As such be patient until your mind and body accepts the change.

10. It is advisable not to smoke for Pranayama practitioners. Also it should not be practiced during illness.

…………………to be continued

How to breathe the right way

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