I would like this publication to contain the information that can bring you closer to understanding the breath seen from the philosophy of Yoga. This is an aspect of such relevance to such a discipline that it even has a dedicated part of the practice: Pranayama.
To begin to delve into understanding the importance of breathing, I will tell you that you and I could survive more than a month without eating and a week without drinking, but without breathing we would not live more than minutes. So important is the breath. So I’m going to pay tribute to it and go deeper into it, so that you and I can breathe much more consciously and reap the benefits of knowing what we are doing when we breathe.
Life, our life, passes between two important and decisive events: an inhalation and an exhalation: At birth you take your first breath and with this your presence in the world is inaugurated and when you die, you release your last breath and life leaves your body.
As you know, the air we breathe reaches the lungs, which are two. The lungs are within the chest, separated from each other by the heart and protected by the ribs, which have a hinged attachment to the sternum. This joint allows the entire structure of the rib cage that shields the lungs to expand as much as necessary to facilitate the important task of breathing. Both lungs have the same structure, they are twins. They are rooted in a common canal, the trachea and its ramifications, and are shaped like the branches of a tree, as you can see in the illustration. The texture of the lungs is spongy, porous and their tissues are very elastic. They are enveloped by the pleural sac,
It is lubricated by a liquid that allows both sides to slide smoothly over each other during the act of breathing.
The air managed by the lungs enters the body through the nose, passes through the pharynx, descends through the larynx, through the trachea and is distributed through the numerous bronchial tubes that are subdivided into smaller and smaller tubes towards the surface of the lungs, forming a structure that if we extended it flat would have an area of about 4,000 square meters. The air is heated on its way so that it reaches the lungs at body temperature.
Below, the lungs are flanked by the diaphragmatic muscle, which is responsible for pumping air in and out of the lungs. As I have already said, breathing is basic for life, for this reason the perfect system that is our body, makes it necessary neither effort nor will for the essential diaphragm to remain active. However, we can focus our will on it and enhance its dynamics for our benefit.
How do we breathe?
The lungs fulfill a double function within their respiratory activity: they energize the arterial blood with the nutrients that they incorporate during inhalation and release the toxins that reach them through the venous blood through exhalation. It is estimated that in 24 hours about 17,000 liters of blood pass through the capillaries of the lungs.
In order to expel the stale air that carries the toxins derived from metabolism, it is necessary that the lungs receive the same amount of clean air, if inspiration does not provide enough air, exhalation will not be able to remove enough stale air either.
When toxins from the venous blood reach the lungs, part of it is destroyed and part of it is destroyed by carbon dioxide. When oxygen comes into contact with the blood, it binds to hemoglobin and is carried to every cell, tissue, muscle and organ, which is invigorated and strengthened, replacing the spent cells and tissues with new materials that nature transforms for use. . Arterial blood, well exposed to the air, contains about 25% free oxygen.
Each digestion we do depends, among other factors, on whether the food is oxygenated and the pumping of the blood is also directly related to the pump that generates respiration in the body: poor respiration eventually leads to cardiovascular problems, among others.
The movement that breathing constantly prints in the body promotes the circulation of lymphatic fluid, which is essential so that toxins do not accumulate in the body and can be transported from the cell to the elimination organs.
For the philosophy of Yoga, the breath provides us with the universal life force that enters us through the breath in the form of Prana. The Prana is the essence of all motion, force or energy, something more subtle than air and oxygen, which enters our body with each breath, more fundamental principle that any gas.
This great principle exists in all forms of matter and yet it is not matter. It is in the air, but it is not air. Animals and plants breathe it with the air, but if it were not contained by it, they would die. It is taken in conjunction with oxygen, but it is not oxygen. It is in the atmospheric air, but it is also everywhere and penetrates where air cannot reach, because it is more subtle than that.
We are constantly inhaling the Prana-laden air and our body is ready to extract the Prana from it. In ordinary breathing we extract a normal amount of Prana, but through controlled and regulated breathing (Yogi breathing), we are able to extract a greater amount, which is concentrated in the brain and nerve plexuses to be used whenever necessary.
Prana is distributed by our body through the Nadis who are in charge of vitalizing our entire nervous system with this subtle component of the universe.
And since we are, and before continuing, I want to tell you that if you do not know what the Nadis are, you can see it in the post in which I explain what Yoga is.
Just as oxygen is distributed by the blood and is consumed by the needs of our system, so Prana is distributed by the Nadis to the nervous system and consumed by our thoughts, volitions, sensations, actions, etc. It is evident that we need a constant replenishment of Prana, as well as of oxygen.
The latter is what most differentiates the western from the eastern view of breathing. For the West, respiration provides us only with oxygen, for the East, respiration is the spirit that animates the body. However, perhaps the Eastern vision is more accurate in light of the palpable reality. Breathing is essential, basic and essential for the human being and in general for all living beings. The evident proof of this is in the fact that I have already remarked at the beginning: if we are short of breath, we can sustain life for a few minutes.
Breathe well and correctly
We are already clear that breathing is an important function in maintaining our life. With what we know, we can deduce that the fact of breathing badly and poorly can lead to health problems.
As in all things, there are many conditioning factors regarding breathing, but we are going to give some general guidelines.
Breathing through your mouth or nose
When we breathe through the mouth the air dries the oral cavity and throat. The mouth has its important function, which is food, if it dries up, it cannot salute food, an action that is an important part of digestion. The nose is by default “equipped” with filters that protect the lungs from substances and microorganisms that can harm our body if they enter it. The nostrils perfectly meet the need to warm the air prior to its passage to the lungs, when we breathe through the mouth the air passes cold to the lungs.
The nostrils are two narrow and tortuous channels that contain numerous villi designed to sift and retain impurities from the air, to be later expelled by exhalations. The long sinuosity of the nostrils are lined by a warm mucous membrane, which aims to heat the inhaled air, so that it cannot harm the delicate organs of the throat, nor the lungs.
When air enters the lungs it is as different from the air outside as distilled water from tap water. The complicated purifying organization of the nostrils, stopping and filtering the passage of impure particles from the air, is as important as the mouth is in selecting bones, skins, etc. and prevent them from passing to the stomach.
It should also be borne in mind that the same air that passes through the nose and nostrils on exhalation keeps them clean. If we do not expel air through the nose, we are avoiding this deep cleaning carried out by the expelled air over the nostrils. Just as in the forest the abandoned roads are full of weeds, the nostrils accumulate mucus and various materials when we do not use them, with which we will be exposed to see our vitality decrease and contract diseases.
Cleaning the nose to improve air quality
The Yogisfrom India carry out a daily practice to keep the airways in optimum clean condition. This consists of immersing the face (or the whole head) in the water and absorbing it through the nose and the mouth simultaneously, and then forcefully expel it through both channels. As for Westerners this was something too extreme, it was modified and what is usually done around here is to absorb water through the nose and expel it through the mouth. It is a good practice, but you have to get used to it, if your nostrils are very loaded or irritated it can even be painful. This is not a reason to stop doing it, on the contrary, it is very convenient for you; but do it more carefully and perhaps more spaced; You will see that as you do it, the pain will decrease, because the area will have been cleaned. You can also do it with sea water that will increase the cleansing and detoxifying power of the technique. You can use pure sea water, or reduced with water to 50% or 25%, for example.
Breathe clean air
Opening the window and taking deep breaths of air, whatever the outside temperature, will be very beneficial. If you live in a city this may be difficult for you. Even so, it is highly recommended that you reserve someday to make trips to the forest or the beach and breathe there.
When you focus on breathing to purify the lungs, it is advisable to do some exercise in yogic breathing or Pranayama. The pranayamas will empower the maximum capacity of your lungs.
Wide clothing in natural fabrics
The most suitable clothing to promote good breathing is the one that makes it easier for the skin to activate its functions as a support for pulmonary respiration. I recommend that you choose loose clothing that facilitates your movements and that leaves a good space between the fabric and the skin, rather than sticking to the skin. Natural fibers are the ones that behave best at the time of allowing the skin to breathe and aerate.
Breathing in sports
In general, promoting good breathing benefits all sports, but for sports such as running it is essential to maintain a routine of breathing exercises. There is no discipline that suffers more from respiratory malpractice. As the race is a very demanding activity with what is called the cardiovascular system, clean, clear and trained airways are necessary to be able to meet the great demand for oxygen.
We have seen how respiration works in our system and I hope that we have understood its importance to our health and vitality. Then we have seen why it is better to breathe through the nose than through the mouth and also the importance of maintaining the nasal passages, as well as techniques to clean them. Finally, I have outlined the importance of having good air quality, even if it is not daily. And I have commented on the importance of yogic breathing exercises. In future publications I will teach you the different Pranayamas that exist.
You like the post? Will you put the recommendations into practice? Do you have any questions or is there something that has not been clear to you? Put it in a comment, please. I really like to read you.