A Breath of Fresh Air
Have you been breathing fire, wasting your breath, out of breath, holding your breath…? Do you ever pause to realize how intimately the speed and quality of your breathing is connected with the way you feel? Happiness and sorrow can send your breath-count to more than 25 times a minute compared to the usual 16 to 17 times.
But did you know, the ideal number of breaths per minute is 10. And yogis breathe only two to three times a minute.
So, first things first, relax. Take a full, deep breath. And now, exhale.
Phhhh…there! How does it feel to expel a lungful of carbon dioxide?
Now, take a pause from reading this article and feel the passage of your breath through yourself for the next one minute. Really breathe. Not simply inhale and exhale through your nostrils, but breathe in and out with your lungs, your belly and your whole being.
How does this help?
Well, if you observe a yogi, a Zen master, or a martial art trainer practice their meditation or exercises, you’ll notice that they always begin by drawing in a deep, deep breath. That’s because they know and remember that breath is prana, and prana is life. Every breath you take has an impact on your three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. If you train yourself to breathe right, you will soon feel an incredible sense of well-being, which comes from improved flow of prana or vital energy throughout your being, and a resulting harmony among the doshas.
The way to breathe deep is quite simple:
1. Gently press two fingers of your right hand against your left nostril to close it. Inhale slowly, deeply and fully through your right nostril.
2. Now, press your right thumb against the right nostril, and exhale through your left nostril. Again, slowly, deeply and fully.
3. Repeat the process, beginning with the left nostril this time.
There! You’ve just completed one full circuit of nadi shodhana (channel cleansing), which is flow-restoring yogic breathing. Do it five to 10 times, and observe how good you feel.
If you’re angry, anxious or stressed out, it’s a priceless way to calm down! I do a lot of my deep breathing in airport lounges, because it helps me have a fear-free flight.
Take It Even Deeper
Use your moments of deep breathing to make some simple, blissful affirmations. With every breath, say to yourself:
- I’m inhaling vitality and exhaling fatigue.
- I’m inhaling serenity and exhaling stress.
- I’m inhaling love and exhaling anger.
Wish you bliss!
Science of Breath Pranayama