Do we have to now learn how to breathe?
Apparently, we are not breathing well enough! Here are some tips on fixing that.
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When all our middle-class households got cable connections somewhere after the year 2000, one channel got our grandparents hooked. It was Aastha Channel, showing Baba Ramdev vigorously breathing in and out — and showing his rib cages.
It was not that our parents and grandparents (we were kids) were not breathing before that. But I will always remember that phase marked by a sudden burst of activity — everyone started practising Kapalbhati. Idle time was not idle anymore — people used to start rubbing their nails together while watching television.
From that time to actually breathe under a mask and feel lucky for not yet needing an inhaler — it feels a long while.
But it is not that long — and hello, breathing classes are here! By 'here', we mean everywhere — abroad and India, in IT companies as well for keeping their staff healthy, stress and anxiety-free.
And what are they teaching?
They are teaching us that we are breathing, obviously — but in the wrong way. Inhaling and exhaling mindlessly are not nourishing our mind and body.
Our posture is often not correct. Time to self-correct. (Photo: Youtube)
Because we are sitting in front of a computer throughout the day. And when we are not sitting in front of a computer, we are bending over our hand-held mobile phones. Our posture is not correct. So, we are not inhaling as much as we should — or, as much as our lungs have room for.
We breathe through our nose. Do you involve your belly in the process? If yes, then you can skip these breathing therapy classes.
That’s how one should breathe in. We may have layers of fat around our ribcages. So it may not be seen by all as we breathe out.
But proper breathing technique requires involving the belly.
The process of breathing in should start in the nose and then move to our stomach. As the diaphragm (the muscle between the abdomen and the chest) contracts, the belly expands and our lungs get filled with air.
According to science, this is the proper way of breathing in.
This has been told in our Patanjali Yoga Sutras. (By Patanjali, we mean the ancient writer or writers).
According to Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga system, there is an eight-fold path to moksha or liberation — and one of them is correct posture, followed by breathing technique.
Yama: Moral discipline
Niyama: Observances of duties
Prayanama: Breathing techniques
Pratyahara: Sense withdrawal
Our Yoga Sutra has various types of Pranayama/breathing techniques — Kapal Bhati (the regular practice of this should give you a shiny forehead) is just one of them. Enough exposure to the television channel I started talking about would teach you single-nostril breathing also.
Where to breathe? (Photo: Reuters)
We breathe in at least 20,000 times a day. We are doing it mindlessly.
So, do we have to become conscious every time we breathe in? Not exactly. Correcting the posture may of course help.
But then, where will we go to breathe in fresh air?