Trust in the Power of Nature
From: The Science of Breath, A practical guide
Yes, there is a science to breathing. It seems obvious that without breathing we cannot remain alive. But there are few who understand that simply allowing our lungs to fill and release air is just the beginning of a more enlightening experience of healing.
“Controlling the breath, is a prerequisite to controlling the mind and the body.” – Swami Rama
Why bother with learning about breath? It does appear to be an automatic function of life. And it is a most simple experience. Intrinsic and automatic…. Yet, obviously, we can control it.
We are able to choose how we breathe. Deeply or shallow… long or short… by mouth or by nose… “Breathing is the only physiological process that can either be voluntary or involuntary. “ (pg 15) If the breath is not consciously driven, it will fall back onto the unconscious. When a person deliberately works with the breath they will gradually see positive changes begin to occur within the body. These changes occur because, through intentional breathing, connection and awareness of the body becomes conscious.
How the breath connects to healing
All living organisms have multiple types of manufacturing cells, each needing nutrients to maintain the action of producing energy for the organism. But these nutrients are useless to the body unless they can be converted into a form that the body can use. So, how can the body change these nutrients into energy?
Within the cell is an energy making machine called the cytochrome oxidase system. This system takes the molecular forms created from the food you eat and mixes it with oxygen to create the energy your cells need to repair and function properly. “The nose, trachea (windpipe), lungs, circulatory system, and their attendant muscles all act to transport or modify oxygen from the surrounding air to make it readily available to individual cells. (pg 21)… Consequently, a change in the function of any one of these systems could potentially alter the course of energy production within the entire body.”
There are three distinctly different breaths you can take. Most people have developed habits of short breaths which fill the upper half of the lungs. And there are those who take even smaller breaths which fill the upper part of the upper lungs. Both of these breathing styles leave the body stressed and cell function compromised. Our goal is to fill our entire upper and lower, front and back, section of lungs. These deeper, full breaths are the type that feed our body enough oxygen to really get the cytochrome oxidase system pumping.
Watch your chest and feel your ribs. This is the easiest way to mindfully breathe. Slowly breathe in and out. All of your ribs should expand both in front and in the back. Try breathing through your nose and exhale through your mouth. At first you might feel a bit light headed, especially if you are a chest breather. This will pass as your body becomes accustomed to the added oxygen.
Practice doing three breaths at a time and gradually increase the number of deep breaths. A wonderful byproduct of deep breathing happens when your body finally realizes the unfettered oxygen being provided and sends a signal to the brain and then to the nervous system telling your body to relax.
It is this final stage of breathing we hope all will work to find within themselves. It is the beginning of truly healing your body.
“In this landmark book, Swami Rama and two noted American physicians explore India’s “Science of Breath” from both Eastern and Western perspectives, revealing how this neglected subject may be the missing key to both physical health and the exploration of higher states of consciousness. Swami Rama also shares some of the basic breathing techniques practices by the Himalayan yogis so that we can begin immediately working with this powerful ancient science.”