Every breath you take...

September 17, 2014 04:21 pm | Updated 08:07 pm IST - New Delhi

Breath is our initiator, our propeller and our oxygenator. The main job of our respiratory system is to take oxygen from atmosphere through nostril into our air sacs, the alveolar system. The air has to be pushed from the zero atmosphere pressure, so lungs have to generate negative air pressure to allow oxygen to flow from high pressure to low pressure, so inhalation effort is needed.

Journey to total wellness involves conscious control of breath. The coordination of inhalation and exhalation creates a wave-like motion in your nervous system, which makes you relaxed and make you feel energetic, both physically and mentally.

Inhalation is the art of receiving primeval energy into the body in the form of breath, while exhalation is removal of toxins from the system. The right breathing practices are must for optimum health. The more you breathe in, the more you breathe out. More breath per breath is a kriya which conserves your total energy, provides wellness and healthy longevity. 

If you breathe in more per breath, you actually breathe in less number of breaths. For example, if you are breathing 500ml alveolar breath you need only ten breaths per minute. If you breathe in 250 ml you need only 20 breaths per minute. So people who breathe in small breaths they get fatigued faster because they have to breathe in more number of breaths at the end of the day.

During emotional stress our sympathetic nervous system is stimulated and affects a number of physical responses. When our heart rate rises, we perspire, our muscles tense and our breathing become rapid and shallow. If this process happens over a long period of time, the sympathetic nervous system becomes over stimulated leading to an imbalance that can affect the physical health, resulting in inflammation, high blood pressure, aches and pain and fatigability.

The breath can be used to directly influence stressful changes causing a direct stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system resulting in relaxation and reversal of the changes seen with the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Due to more shallow breathing, the chest does not expand as much as it would with slower deeper breaths and much of the air exchange occurs at the top of the lung tissue towards the head. This results in “chest” breathing. Chest breathing is inefficient because the greatest amount of blood flow occurs in the lower lobes of the lungs, areas that have limited air expansion in chest breathers. Rapid, shallow, chest breathing results in less oxygen transfer to the blood and subsequent poor delivery of nutrients to the tissues.

Abdominal breathing is also known as diaphragmatic breathing.When diaphragm contracts it is forced downward causing the abdomen to expand. This causes a negative pressure within the chest forcing air into the lungs. The negative pressure also pulls blood into the chest improving the venous return to the heart. This leads to improved stamina in both disease and athletic activity. Like blood, the flow of lymph, which is rich in immune cells, is also improved. By expanding the lung’s air pockets and improving the flow of blood and lymph, abdominal breathing also helps prevent infection of the lung and other tissues. But most of all it is an excellent tool to stimulate the relaxation response that results in less tension and an overall sense of well being.


1. Focus your breath between lungs, the triangle area at level of stomach and epigastric point,

2. Resting one hand on chest and the other on abdomen, breathe slow and deep and inflate stomach.

3. Push back and breathe out slowly through lips like a purse lip, 

4. Do this for 15 per minute.

5. Rest as a corpse pose, savanasana for a minute,

6. Do this exercise for 15 minutes in the morning.

(The writer is a senior consultant, National Heart Institute and Founder of Saans Foundation) ppbose.saans@gmail.com

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