The importance of deep breathing

By Dr. Ajit

Prana is our life force. The key to keeping Prana in an optimum state in our body is regular breathing. However, breathing is such an automatic, natural function that we are often not aware we are doing it.

One can live without food but not without prana. To maintain Prana, regular rhythmic breathing is very important. To preserve the balance of Prana one should take deep, long, slow breaths, in through the nose and out through the nose. This process of deep breathing should be repeated at least 3 -4 times a day, taking at least 10—15 deep, long breaths each time.

Our breathing is affected with every action, every activity of the day; the way we act, react, walk, talk.

Many of us feel that our breathing is good because we live with awareness or do regular exercise or yoga in the morning and Pranaynam (specific yogic breathing) in the evening so don't need to focus on breathing during the day. Unfortunately, we forget that our breathing can be affected by various circumstances and situations during the day. For example, watch people working on computers and you will see that at least 80% of them have shallow breathing as we forget to breath while focussed on our computers. Also, whenever people are working on an important project or have to attend an important meeting, the stress and anxiety that creates will impact on the breath.

When people are made aware about this, their first reaction is to think there is no problem. "I am practicing yoga or going to the gym after work so should be fine," they say. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When one is stressed, anxious or nervous this impacts on our inner tissues as well. This stress or anxiety causes a loss of Prana in the cells. When Prana is depleted in our tissues, it makes us fatigued, tired, unstable and foggy minded. If one does not act to revive the situation on a regular basis, then many of those cells will die. This will untimely affect one's immune strength so it is very important to do regular deep breathing throughout the day.

How does anxiety take Prana from cells? Whenever one is anxious or nervous the bodily systems naturally go into constriction mode, which hampers the normal flow of Prana in the blood stream. Also, due to the constriction in the cells, Prana will move out of cell and they become more fragile as the oxidation process is compromised. When this happens, cells become dry, rough and cold, which accelerates the damage.

How does stress take Prana out of cells? When one is overworked and unable to handle work pressure and deadlines, one can start feeling frustrated and angry. Anger and frustration will increase the hot quality in the blood and this will affect our cells too. This excess heat impacts on the Prana in the cells and can lead to quicker cell destruction. The only regime that can prevent damage to our cells and tissue is deep, long slow breathing on a regular basis.

Why do I need to do breathing throughout the day when I am doing Pranaynam in the early morning?

It is always wise to perform such routines that keep our Prana more stable and it is true that regular Pranaynam practice will put us in a much better position than others. Unfortunately, our activities during the day also impact on our wellbeing so if someone experiences a higher level of anxiety or frustration, it will impact on our systems, not only at a superficial level but also at a deeper cellular level. Due to these activities, Prana will leave our cells and they become prone to imbalances. Therefore, regular breathing during the day is advised to re-vitalise the cells, as they can't wait for you to get home to perform you Pranaynam practice. By the time damage is done hence breathing is required within 2-3 hours after the activity that affects one's breathing

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