A human being can endure days without eating or drinking, but only a few minutes without breathing.
We are well aware of the importance of breathing, but often we do not give enough importance to the way we do it, unaware that proper breathing (which is diaphragmatic breathing) can alleviate many of our physical and psychological disorders.
In Eastern traditions, proper breathing is crucial.
Aware of the close link between breath and mind, in disciplines such as yoga, the initial path has always included a focus on the correct way to breathe. There is a true ” science of breath ” , or Pranayama.
On this subject, it is interesting to read the account of Parwha Kaur telling of his first meeting with Yogi Bhajan :
My very first lesson with Yogi Bhajan consisted entirely of slow, long, deep breathing. He told me to lie on the floor and start to inhale and exhale as deeply as possible from the nose. Then he left the room. Forty-five minutes later he returned! This was my introduction to Kundalini Yoga.
Connecting with your breath is the first step to a path of improvement of one’s body and mind. To start, the following two principles should be kept in mind :
1. The pace of your breathing and your state of mind are inseparable;
2. The slower the pace of your breathing, the more control you have on your mind.
Use your diaphragm to perfect your breathing
Breathing is the core of first yoga classes because it is extremely useful to correct the improper habits we have adopted through the years
Stress, anxiety and fear have a great impact on the way we breathe, preventing air from smoothly flowing in and out from our lungs. We often feel our breathing is short and chocked, as well as so noisy and loud so that our mind is disturbed and cannot concentrate on our daily activities.
Diaphragmatic breathing is among the recommended techniques to break this vicious cycle.
This way of breathing starts from the lower part of our belly, where the diaphragmatic muscle is located, separating the chest from the abdomen. It is the organ fully used by trained actors and singers.
Use this simple test to determine if your breathing is diaphragmatic:
- Lay down on the floor and put one hand on your belly and one on your chest
- Start inhaling and exhaling: if the hand on your belly rises up before and more noticeably than the one on the chest, then your breathing is correct
It means that you are focusing your breathing on your abdomen instead of your chest, and that is right!
“Breath of fire” is a kundalini exercise exploiting diaphragmatic breathing at its maximum: you will benefit in terms of energy increase, blood purification and nervous system balancing.
This exercise favors diaphragmatic elasticity, helping it to optimally guide the way we breathe.
Take a look at this video where Dr Ram Rattan Singh, doctor, surgeon and member of Y-C scientific committee, shows you how to practice Breathe of Fire.
Alessia Tanzi – Giacomo Ciampoli