Have you ever counted how many times you breathe in a minute? Breathing is the first act of life and it's the last act of life. Yet, the power of the breath isn’t known to most.
Ninety percent of the impurities in the body can be released through the breath yet we breathe only 30% of our lung capacity. We are not breathing enough. The mind is like a kite and the breath, a thread. For the mind to be calm the breath needs to be longer. You don’t have to take Prozac if you can attend to the breath.
If you observe an infant, you will be amazed at how balanced they breathe. They breathe from all the three sections of the body. As they breathe in, their belly expand and as they breathe out, their belly deflates. But the more nervous and tense you are, the reverse will happen. When you breathe out your tummy will expand and when you breathe in, deflates.
Connecting Breath and Feelings
On an average, in one minute we breathe nearly sixteen to seventeen times.
If you are upset, your breathing rate may go up to twenty, if you are extremely tense and angry, it could total to twenty-five breaths per minute. Ten if you are very calm and happy, two to three breaths if you are in meditation.
Deep meditation can reduce the number of breaths you take.
This signifies that breath is not just linked to the physical aspect but also interlinks to the subtle implications on the whole inner development. Practising some meditation daily calms the mind, thereby calming the breath and reducing the number of breaths inhaled. This has many benefits like reduced high blood pressure and many other ailments.
The yoga asanas are something which everyone has done as a child. Have you seen a six month old baby lying on its back with its legs up? A baby kicks its legs upwards and also brings the head up, almost like what you do with the abs (abdominal) machine. Then it goes on its back and does what we call the 'cobra' posture in yoga. And if you observe a sleeping child, its thumb and the index finger slightly touch - a formation which is the 'Chin mudra'.
If you have the sharpness of mind, then you don't have to go to a shool or learn these things from anybody. But our mind is so preoccupied with so many things, so many judgments, so many opinions, and so many impressions, so we are unable to observe, perceive the refined things in nature. So we need to study.
Art of living yoga emphasizes and teaches this crucial aspect and has devised different programs, asanas, exercises, and techniques that coordinate body, breath, mind, and spirit.