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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’).

Pranayama
Pranayama

Pranayama

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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    • skgrao profile image

      S K G Rao. 

      6 years ago from Bangalore City - INDIA.

      When we breath during Pranayama should our stomach come out while breathing in or go in resulting in chest expansion.

      1 ) Breath In - Stomach Expands.

      2 ) Breath Out - Stomach Goes In.

      3 ) Breath In - Chest Expands.

      4 ) Breath Out - Chest Goes In.

      Which is Correct - 1 & 2 or 3 & 4.

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      6 years ago from New York

      @SunilKunnoth2012: Thank you so much for your kind words.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      6 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Nice hub. Congrats!

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      7 years ago from New York

      Hi Barry! Good to see u here. Glad to know that you are back on your breathing-exercise routine. Wish u all the best. :)

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 

      7 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Came back to practice my breathing & calm down...^

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      7 years ago from New York

      @ Neelesh: I hope so. :) Thx again.

    • neeleshkulkarni profile image

      neeleshkulkarni 

      7 years ago from new delhi

      am here and am moving on since i am sure anything i might want to say would have been said by you in the next parts.

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      7 years ago from New York

      Jendie: Thx very much for your kind words. Feel free to come back.

    • profile image

      jendie 

      7 years ago

      wow i love this article, i'll try to do this everyday

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      7 years ago from New York

      Vocalcoach: Yes you can include such diaphragmatic exercise (commonly known as 'Kapal Bhatti' in India)in your daily routine. It works well for anxiety related issues and digestion (including bloating) problems. Studies have shown that Kapal Bhatti is a very effective tool for losing inches in your mid rib section. Thx for dropping by. Keep coming.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Should diaphragmatic breathing be used during these exercises? Very good hub and I enjoyed it very much. Looking forward to reading more of your hubs. Mahalo

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      8 years ago from New York

      loveofnight: Even I "try" to do it everyday. Hope you understand what I mean. :) I wish I could be regular but am not. Breathing exercises give gradual but long term benefits. Thx for stopping by. Its a pleasure having you in my hubs.

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 

      8 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      this is something that i need to practice more often.....thx 4 share

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      8 years ago from New York

      JK133502: Here are the answers:

      a) Generally when we say 'asanas' we mean doing yogic exercises sitting in one particular posture. These exercises normally include 'breathing exercises' (kapal bhatti, pranayam etc) followed by meditation. I believe when you mentioned 'asanas' you had 'hatha yoga' in mind which includes rigorous physical exercise only. For clarification on this subject you might want to check out the following link

      https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Yoga-kund

      Therefore, when I suggested that Pranayam should follow yogic exercises, I meant that it should precede 'meditation' as during meditation a lot of energy is generated and if there are blockages in the chakras or in 'nadis', the energy gets trapped and does not flow uninterruptedly. This can create imbalance in the body and discomfort on the psychic level as well. Pranayam open the 'nadis' (air channels) so as to make a free passage for the energy to move inside the body.

      b) Well, one hour after dinner might be a little less but I suppose 2 hrs should be fine. The best time is before hitting the bid as I'm sure you would like to do a 10 minute meditation after pranayam which would definitely help your mind to calm down after a long days job and would give you a nice sleep as well. Hope I was able to satisfy your queries.

      Feel free to come back.

    • profile image

      JK133502 

      8 years ago

      Hi Anjali,

      I had a couple of questions on Pranayama.

      a)All Yogic series i have seen or read mention to do pranayama before the asanas.You have mentioned the reverse of it.Any reason for that?

      b)I live in canada and coz of the cold,i always find it hard to do yoga in the early morning .I try to do it after work in the evening but one hour after a light snack,but everyone says pranayama needs to be done atleast 4 hours after food.So do you any suggestions on how i can overcome that?

      Thanks

      JK

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      8 years ago from New York

      Cleanclover: Thx for appreciating. You must start your day with Pranayam even if it's only for 5 min. Try it for one month and see the difference. Take care.

    • Cleanclover profile image

      Cleanclover 

      8 years ago from Piece of land!

      Fantastic information. Thanks i will practise pranayam everyday

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      9 years ago from New York

      Kimberly: Thx again. Nice to see you here. Your link doesn't seem to be working. Is it a glitch or you unpublished the article?

    • Kimberly Bunch profile image

      Kimberly Bunch 

      9 years ago from EAST WENATCHEE

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      9 years ago from New York

      Anamika S: Nice to see you here. Your kind words are highly appreciated. Thx very much.

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S Jain 

      9 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      Great Hub as usual Anjali. You write very well.

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      9 years ago from New York

      Raggits: Thx very much.

    • profile image

      Raggits 

      9 years ago

      Great article!

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      9 years ago from New York

      cgull8m: I'm so happy for you. Please don't ever stop your daily practise. Thx for encouraging me to write a book on this. It's a daunting task but let's see ...I might be able to do that in future. :) Thx again for your support and kind words.

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Anjali, I do Pranayama every day along with my prayers. They are extremely useful and give lots of energy earlier in the day. Well done, I hope you publish books on these topics soon if you have not done already.

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      9 years ago from New York

      JPSO138: It'll be really beneficial for you if you do. Good luck.

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      I will certainly try this out. Great hub.

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      9 years ago from New York

      Tatjana: You're so generous all the time. The article is somewhat incomplete and I'm working on a follow up hub right now. Thx very much for your kind comments.

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

      Tatjana-Mihaela 

      9 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Great article. Thanks for sharing. Conscious breathing is much more then people usually know.

      Thumbs up!

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      9 years ago from New York

      GT: Yep. It'll come with practice. No need to remember as such. Thx for stopping by.

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 

      9 years ago from Free and running....

      Anj, I gotta remember to do this.

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR

      anjalichugh 

      9 years ago from New York

      Brian Hub: That's right but here we are trying to focus on deep and regulated breath. When we walk on an incline, breath comes in short gasps and the heart tries even harder to pump out more blood (and oxygen) which is not what we want in Pranayama. It is mainly focused on slowing down the breath and keeping the mind composed.

      Thx very much for your comments.

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      9 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      One sure way of ensuring you breathe deeply is to take a walk up a steep incline, try and do that with only shallow breaths. Interesting hub.

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