“The infant draws in a long, deep breath, retains it for a moment to extract from it its life-giving properties, and then exhales it in a long wail, and lo! its life upon earth has begun. The old man gives a faint gasp, ceases to breathe, and life is over. From the first faint breath of the infant to the last gasp of the dying man, it is one long story of continued breathing. Life is but a series of breaths.”—Yogi Ramacharaka, Science of Breath After you have practiced the techniques of the Complete Yoga Breath, a day will arrive when you simply know that you are doing it right. You will feel it. There is no mistaking the first time the body inhales the maximum amount of oxygen!
TIPS FOR THE COMPLETE YOGA BREATH
- Read the instructions on the Complete Yoga Breath and learn each step completely until you feel confident about performing all of them smoothly as one movement.
- Yogananda teaches that by controlling the breath you begin to control the mind, and although the body itself is very difficult to control, the mind, known as the great deceiver refuses to be absolutely still.
- It is important to know about physical disorders, however minor they might be. So consideration is given to certain breath exercises that should not be performed for health reasons. Read the Warnings before attempting to do any of these breathing exercises or Yoga postures given in other sections of this site.
VISUALIZATION TECHNIQUESSome might find it easier to visualize while learning something new. Here is a suggestion my students have found helpful (there are others given in the actual steps of the breathing lessons):
- Imagine that the trunk of your body is a tall glass and the air you inhale is water. Your larynx (throat) is the rim of the glass. Without tension, the water fills your body. When you exhale, imagine that the water pours out of your body in one continuous flow, just as it flows out of the glass.
HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR DIAPHRAGMTo make it even easier to experience your diaphragm, do the following exercise: (Note: Not to be performed by people who have serious respiratory problems without talking to their healthcare professionals first.)
- Stand or sit in front of a mirror in a comfortable position with your back straight. Keep your head straight and inhale as you would normally (later you will breathe the Complete Yoga Breath with this technique).
- After you have inhaled, hold your nose in the same way you would if you were diving into a pool. Donít allow any air to be released through your nose or mouth. (Read all the instructions here first!)
- Imagine that you know exactly where the diaphragm is—just where your ribcage ends—and pull it up into your chest (upward, not backward). Then push it down into your abdomen. Up and down again, and again. Continue to do this about 10 times, then relax your body completely and breathe slowly. This will exercise the largest muscle in your body to make it stronger and also make you more aware of it when you do The Complete Yoga Breath. (This might sound strange, but in reality this is exactly what the diaphragm does. It moves down as you inhale, and moves up when you exhale.)
- Try this a couple of times. If you are doing this correctly, you will hear a strange noise within your body and there will be a definite sensation in your ears (sort of sounds like your heart beating in your ears).
DIAPHRAGM BREATH BENEFITSThe diaphragm is our internal instrument that we play upon with each breath. If you could watch it as it flutters up and down and vibrates all of the organs of digestion and elimination, you would be stunned by its power. This vibrating massage of the inner organs helps to squeeze blood into and out of them. Obviously, it helps to purify the blood. Abdominal breathing calms down a nervous heart, helps digestion, lowers high blood pressure, and works on all of the inner crevices of the abdominal area to help maintain organ strength.