During stressful situations we rarely stop to think about what is happening within our bodies. Indeed, the pressures of the moment keep our minds occupied on almost everything but our physiological functions. Consequently those functions often become irregular, leaving us in an unhealthy state of being. When we are in this state we have fewer chances to succeed in whatever we try to accomplish.
Among the many physiological functions adversely affected by stress is our breathing. Even when stress is minimal few people retain a habit of natural, full breathing which is required for maintaining a good mental and physical state. Proper breathing is essential for sustaining life and cleansing inner body systems. By learning proper breathing techniques stressful situations may be handled better and overall mental and physical health will be improved.
A 20% reduction in oxygen blood levels may be caused by the aging process and normal breathing habits. Poor breathing robs energy and negatively affects mental alertness. Unless breathing is exercised, aging affects the respiratory system as follows:
Stiffness: The rib cage and surrounding muscles get stiff causing inhalation to become more difficult. Less elasticity and weak muscles leave stale air in the tissues of the lungs and prevents fresh oxygen from reaching the blood stream.
Rapid, Shallow Breathing: This type of breathing, often caused by poor posture and weak or stiff muscles, leads to poor oxygen supply, respiratory disease, sluggishness, or heart disease.
Breathing is sort of a sibling to qi. That is how close they are - almost like twins, but not identical ones. The air that flows through our lungs at each breath has got many similarities to the qi energy flow, but is still essentially different. That goes for oxygen as well, the substance that breathing transports to the blood, and the blood distributes to all of the body - just like qi energy. Still, they are different.
Anyway, their similarities are enough for correct and concentrated breathing exercises to be the most effective way of getting your qi flow going. So, now it is time for exercises working on your breathing to make it even more similar to the qi flow. If we devote ourselves wholeheartedly to one of the twins, the other cannot stay away for long.
Good breathing is a blessing in life, surpassed by few things. It gives a sense of delight, and is so stimulating that it must be compared to inspiration. That is indicated by the very word inspire, inspirare in Latin, which originally means breathing - more precisely breathing in. That says a lot. Breathing can inspire, especially breathing in. Take a deep breath and feel your soul soar.
When you inhale you receive, and when you exhale you give. That is the rhythm of life. The one is impossible without the other. They are opposites that are forever linked, similar to the pair of yin and yang in classical Chinese cosmology.
At first, inhalation and exhalation need to be treated as two evident opposites, but by time they should sort of blend, so that the change between them becomes less and less perceivable. Breathing shall become a constant life-giving flow through the body, a concrete mirroring of the hidden ether that is qi.
When exploring breathing and its nature, we start by making a clear distinction between in and out.
The Benefits of Breathing ControlEdit
Breathing control, as it turned out, was central to the yogis' success in regulating these physiological responses. By controlling such variables as the volume of air, the rate at which it is inhaled and exhaled, the timing between the inhale and exhale, and the location in the lungs in which the air is placed, they could affect both mental and physical states of being.
Using carefully prescribed breathing techniques, the masters learned to induce special states, such as deep meditation or heightened awareness, for use in specific situations. As a result of their painstaking research over the course of centuries, the masters made exciting discoveries related to health, strength, longevity, and even happiness.