Oxygen Oxygen is the most abundant element. The Earth’s crust is estimated to be 49. 52% oxygen by weight. Approximately 20% of the atmosphere is oxygen, the rest is mostly nitrogen. Oxygen consititues about 85% of sea water, 47% of dry soil, 42% vegetation, 46% of igneous rocks, and 65% of the human body. Although oxygen is the most abundant of all the elements and is a major component of most materials in our environment, it was not the first element discovered.
Many rarer elements were known and prized by the ancients including gold, silver, lead, tin, and mercury. Carbon and sulfur were used in gunpowder in the sixteenth century. The ancients all used oxygen, but oxygen was not isolated nor understood until the latter part of the eighteenth century. Two men are credited with the discovery of oxygen.
In about 1773, a Swedish chemist, Karl William Scheele, and an Englishman, Joseph Priestley. Neither Priestly nor Scheele realized that they had discovered a new element. THey both considered the gas to be very pure air. It remained for the French scientist, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier to demonstrate in 1777 that oxygen was a pure substance, a component of air and a reactant consumed when substances were burned. Oxygen is element number 8 and it holds 8 electrons per atom. The presence of oxygen in water and in the three classes of foods (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) proves the importance of its compounds in the life process.
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Oxygen is brought to the lungs by respiration. Here, it is absorbed by the blood, especially by the hemoglobin, and carried to the cells, where it is consumed as foods and converted to energy. Rapid physical exertion requires more energy, and thus more oxygen is consumed to free that energy. Oxygen in inhaled air is carried to the cells to oxidize carbohydrates for energy and body heat. THe products of the oxidation of sugar in the body cells are the same products obtained when sugar is completely burned in a flame. Enzymes in the body catalyze the oxidatoin of foodstuffs so that they can be oxidized rapidly at body temperature.
Oxygen is one of the five elements of life. It is the most important substance for life and is used for the treatment of the sick. Air enriched with oxygen is often administered to people who suffer breathing difficulty. Oxygen deficiency, or oxygen starvation, can be one of the single greatest causes of disease in plants or humans and it plays a critical role in the proper functioning of the immune system. It is the source of life and energy to all cells. Body abuse through eating and drinking habits (including pollutants and toxic preservatives in our water and food), air pollution, use of drugs, and lack of exercise can greatly reduce the amount of oxygen available to the body cells.
Many times when there is insufficient oxygen to support the health of a cell, it turns to another source of energy, usually sugar fermentation. This is an undesirable source energy, which upsets the metabolism of the cell. It causes the cell to start manufacturing improper chemicals, and soon a whole group of cells is unhealthy and weak… They lose their natural immune system. They open their doors to the invasion of viruses, for a virus can only develop within a cell. Thus, development of a shortage of oxygen in the blood could very well be the starting point for the loss of the immune system and the beginning of feared health problems and nerve deterioration.
In addition to being a life-giver, oxygen is also a KILLER… A killer of harmful anaerobic infectious bacteria. These bacteria cannot grow or survive in the presence of oxygen. However, oxygen is also selective naturally in what it kills. Unlike drugs and antibiotics, oxygen does not harm the aerobic or beneficial bacteria which we need for good health.
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Because of the situation of our modern world, most of us do not receive sufficient oxygen for optimal health and disease resistance. During the course of man’s history there have been scientific discoveries contributing significantly to human health. Such a discovery has been made and released for our benefit by stabilized oxygen. A medical doctor, scientist, and humanitarium, dedicated his life to the treatment of mentally re tarted children. He believed a shortage of oxygen to the brain cells to be one of the major causes of retardation, and devoted 15 years to research and development of another process besides breathing, for supplying oxygen to the brain. His formula produced non-toxic, stabilized electrolytes of oxygen (in liquid form) identical to those the body uses in the respiration process.
Oxygen molecules, such as those contained in stabilized oxygen, and stabilized chlorine molecules, are short two electrons in their outer shell. Because of this, the oxygen molecule will pull electrons from anything that will give them up. An anaerobic infectious bacterium will give up its electrons to the oxygen molecule and die immediately. An aerobic beneficial bacterium will not give up its electrons to the oxygen molecule. Likewise, good anaerobic bacteria, which live under both anaerobic and aerobic conditions such as different normal flora of the skin nd intestine, will not give up their electrons to the oxygen molecule. They are actually stimulated by the oxygen molecules.
Webster’s Dictionary teaches us: “Aerobic bacteria require oxygen.” Anaerobic disease and infectious bacteria cannot live in the presence of oxygen. After developing stabilized oxygen, the doctor has used it in his practice for 10 years. The Importance of Oxygen and Water Oxygen: There are a few graphic ways to describe the functioning of our cells, which give an easily understood picture: In one sense your body is like a fire. A fire needs a fuel source such as wood, but it must have oxygen to keep burning. It must have an “aerobic” environment. Your body is similar.
Here, an “aerobic” environment means lots of oxygen around the cells, so they can perform the metabolic functions they were designed to make cells burn glucose, and they need oxygen to keep the fire burning. This burning process, also called metabolism, produces wastes. When your cells become surrounded with wastes, the oxygen cannot get to them to do its job, so they do not function properly. Once oxygen is no longer able to reach the cells, the environment in the body becomes an “anaerobic” one, and changes start happening. Disease cells prefer to live and multiply in an oxygen poor or “anaerobic” environment, and therefore they are more prone to be there, and to increase in quantity in an environment filled with wastes.
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Another way to look at this is to think of your cells as candles. Candles use fire to burn the wax that is their fuel. Fire needs oxygen. If you put a glass over the candle, what happens? Eventually the flame will go out, because the oxygen is cut off. Healthy, normal cells need oxygen to assist in the burning of the glucose, the fuel used by the cells. If there is no oxygen, the burning process becomes a fermentation process, changing the environment of the cells, and making it more likely they will become diseased.
Anything you can do to increase the amount of oxygen in your body can only benefit your body. Things like exercise in the fresh air even just walking, increasing your intake of green, yellow and red vegetables, and deeply coloured fruits. Even utilizing alternative therapies such as ozone therapy and hydrogen peroxide therapy can be beneficial. At the very least you need to investigate these alternatives for yourself. The other incredibly important way to keep the wastes down and give the oxygen access to the cells is to drink a LOT of water. Most people need about 2 quarts (liters) of water per day.
Water: Imagine your body as a beautiful pond in a forest. It is alive with plants and fish, insects and birds. It is clear and clean and full of oxygen. This pond has a stream of fresh water coming into it, and a stream of water leaving that takes away all the wastes. Now picture what will happen to the pond, if you cut off the stream entering the pond. No more oxygen, no more fresh, clean water, no more way of removing all the waste products.
The pond will become a stagnant, smelly swamp. This is what can happen to your body if you do not drink enough water. Our bodies are 75% water. Every cell in your body is constantly bathed in water. The water inside your cells has the correct balance of minerals in to ensure that each cell functions exactly as it should.
Every cell also is continually producing waste products from the metabolic process that goes on all the time. The waste products are discharged from the cell into the water surrounding each cell. This water acts, in part, as a waste removal system. If this fluid is not continually replenished with fresh water, and the old dirty water removed, your cells will not be able to function properly. It is recommended to drink at least 6-8 eight ounce glasses of water every day. By saying water, that is what I mean, not juices, coffee, tea or soft drinks.
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A good source of well water, spring water, artesian well water, glacier water, or any other source of pure, clean water is needed. Studies have shown that a decrease in water intake will cause fat deposits to increase, while an increase in water intake can actually reduce these. How? ? The kidneys cannot function properly without enough water. When they don’t work to capacity, some of their load is dumped onto the liver. One of the liver’s primary functions is to metabolize stored fat into usable energy for the body. If the liver has to do some of the work of the kidneys, it can’t operate at full throttle itself, and as a result, it metabolizes less fat.
Therefore more fat remains stored in the body and weight loss stops. The overweight person needs more water than a thin one. Larger people have a higher metabolic load. Since we know that water is one of the keys to fat metabolism, it follows that the overweight person needs more water.
Water helps rid the body of wastes. During weight loss, the body has a lot more waste to get rid of – all that metabolized fat must be shed. Again, adequate water helps the situation. The overweight person needs one additional 8 oz glass for each 25 lbs of excess weight.
Drinking enough water is also the best treatment for fluid retention. When the body gets less water, it perceives this as a threat to survival, and begins to hold on to every drop. Water that is stored can show up as swollen feet, legs and hands. Diuretics offer a temporary solution at best. They force out stored water, along with some essential nutrients.
Again, the body perceives a threat, and will replace the lost water at the first opportunity. Thus the condition quickly returns. Swollen feet, legs and hands can also be the result of toxic waste water not being removed from the body, as detailed above. Water retention can also be the result of excess salt intake.
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Your body will tolerate sodium only in a certain concentration. The more salt you eat, the more water your system retains to dilute it. In any of these cases, one of the best ways to overcome the problem of water retention is to give your body what it needs PLENTY OF WATER. Water can help relieve constipation. When the body gets too little water, it siphons what is needed from internal sources.
The colon is one primary source. Result? Constipation. But, when a person drinks enough water, normal bowel function usually returns. More information on water and its importance to the human body can be found in a book called: “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water”, by F Batmanghelidj. More information on the oxygen therapies mentioned above is available in the following books: “Oxygen Healing Therapy”, by N Altman (Ozone Therapy) “Oxygen, Oxygen, Oxygen”, by K Dons bach (Hydrogen Peroxide) Stress Another VERY important aspect of healing and recuperation is rest, sleep and reduction of stress. We all need a certain amount of stress in our lives.
It is what keeps us aware and active. Most people who are ill, have had and still do have too much stress in their lives. They cannot sleep properly, because they cannot relax. They try to help too many others, forgetting that the only person, and the only body, they can help or be fully responsible for is their own. They cannot say NO, when they are asked to take on more. DON’T DO THIS TO YOURSELF.
Selfish as it may sound, no other human being is as interested in helping you heal and get better than you yourself can be. If you have children and / or a spouse, relatives who rely on you, in a way it is your duty, to take care of yourself. If this means others have to pitch in and do some of the work, THEN SO BE IT. FIND or MAKE the time to relax.
GIVE yourself PERMISSION to sleep in the daytime, if that is what your body needs. SIT down and smell the flowers. REST on the beach, in the woods, on the grass, and just WATCH what is happening around you – in the trees, the grass, the waves, the clouds. (Matt.
6: 25-34) DON’T try to clean, fix, tidy, repair, do ANYTHING, even if it needs doing. All this will still be there tomorrow, and can be dealt with then, or by someone else. ABOVE ALL ELSE – DON’T WORRY – learn to be calm, to rest, to be quiet, to listen, to DO nothing. – worry NEVER changed anything Another positive step you can take is to look at the other aspects of your life.
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We are more than just physical creations. We have other facets to our being. We are emotional creations, we have a mental side to our existence and we are above all else spiritual beings. Difficulties in all of these areas can have repercussions on our physical health.
Some people look on the health challenges as a wake up call to changing their way of living, to looking at their past and correcting what can be corrected, asking forgiveness for what can not, and extending forgiveness to others for harm they have done. Getting issues taken care of in these areas can make a big difference to our health. Think about it. Importance Of Breathing Breathing is important for two reasons. It is the only means to supply our bodies and its various organs with the supply of oxygen which is vital for our survival.
The second function of breathing is that it is one means to get rid of waste products and toxins from the body. Why Is Oxygen So Vital? Oxygen is the most vital nutrient for our bodies. It is essential for the integrity of the brain, nerves, glands and internal organs. We can do without food for weeks and without water for days, but without oxygen, we will die within a few minutes.
If the brain does not gets proper supply of this essential nutrient, it will result in the degradation of all vital organs in the body. The brain requires more oxygen than any other organ. If it doesn’t get enough, the result is mental sluggishness, negative thoughts and depression and, eventually, vision and hearing decline. Old people and those whose arteries are clogged often become senile and vague because oxygen to the brain is reduced. They get irritated very quickly. Poor oxygen supply affects all parts of the body.
The oxygen supply is reduced to all parts of the body as we get older due to poor lifestyle. Many people need reading glasses and suffer hearing decline in old age. When an acute circulation blockage deprives the heart of oxygen, a heart attack is the result. If this occurs to the brain, the result is a stroke.
For a long time, lack of oxygen has been considered a major cause of cancer. Even as far back as 1947, work done in Germany showed that when oxygen was withdrawn, normal body cells could turn into cancer cells. Similar research has been done with heart disease. It showed that lack of oxygen is a major cause of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
The work done at Baylor University in the USA has shown that you can reverse arterial disease in monkeys by infusing oxygen into the diseased arteries. Thus, oxygen is very critical to our well-being, and any effort to increase the supply of oxygen to our body and especially to the brain will pay rich dividends. Yogis realized the vital importance of an adequate oxygen supply thousands of years ago. They developed and perfected various breathing techniques.
These breathing exercises are particularly important for people who have sedentary jobs and spend most of the day in offices. Their brains are oxygen starved and their bodies are just ‘getting by’. They feel tired, nervous and irritable and are not very productive. On top of that, they sleep badly at night, so they get a bad start to the next day continuing the cycle. This situation also lowers their immune system, making them susceptible to catching colds, flu and other ‘bugs’. Oxygen Purifies the Blood Stream One of the major secrets of vitality and rejuvenation is a purified blood stream.
The quickest and most effective way to purify the blood stream is by taking in extra supplies of oxygen from the air we breathe. The breathing exercises described in here are the most effective methods ever devised for saturating the blood with extra oxygen. Oxygen bums up the waste products (toxins) in the body, as well as recharging the body’s batteries (the solar plexus).
In fact, most of our energy requirements come not from food but from the air we breathe. By purifying the blood stream, every part of the body benefits, as well as the mind. Your complexion will become clearer and brighter and wrinkles will begin to fade away.
In short, rejuvenation will start to occur. Medical Science Verifies Oxygen’s Importance Scientists have discovered that the chemical basis of energy production in the body is a chemical called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).
If something goes wrong with the production of ATP, the result is lowered vitality, disease and premature ageing. Scientists have also discovered that oxygen is critical for the production of ATP; in fact, it is its most vital component. Yoga permits us to tap into this vital nutrient. Importance of Healthy Breathing We know how to breathe.
It is something that occurs to us automatically, spontaneously, naturally. We are breathing even when we are not aware of it. So it seems foolish to think that one can be told how to breathe. Yet, one’s breathing becomes modified and restricted in various ways, not just momentarily, but habitually. We develop unhealthy habits without being aware of it.
We tend to assume positions (slouched positions) that diminishes lung capacities and take shortened breaths. We also live in social conditions that is not good for the health of our respiratory system. As discussed above, scientists have known for a long time that there exists a strong connection between respiration and mental states. Improper breathing produces diminished mental ability. The corollary is true also. It is known that mental tensions produce restricted breathing.
A normally sedentary person, when confronted with a perplexing problem, tends to lean forward, draw his arms together, and bend his head down. All these body postures results in reduced lung capacity. The more intense the concentration, the more tense the muscles become. The muscles in the arms, neck and chest contract.
The muscles that move the thorax and control inhalation and muscular tenseness clamp down and restrict the exhalation. The breaths become shorter and shorter. After an extended period of intense focusing, the whole system seems to be frozen in a certain posture. We become fatigued from the decreased circulation of the blood and from the decreased availability of oxygen for the blood because we have almost stopped breathing.
As our duties, responsibilities and their attendant problems become more demanding, we develop habits of forgetting to breathe. Try an experiment suggested by Swami Vishnudevananda. Focus attention upon the ticks of a clock placed at a distance of about twelve feet. If you get distracted, try concentrating harder until you experience the ticking with undivided attention. If you fail at first, you should try again and again until you succeed in keeping the ticking clearly in mind for at least a few seconds. What happened? The majority of persons who took part in this experiment reported that they have completely suspended the breath.
The others, who had less concentration, reported that they experienced very slow breathing. This experiment shows clearly that where there is concentration of the mind, the breathing becomes very slow or even get suspended temporarily. What’s Wrong With The Way We Breathe? Our breathing is too shallow and too quick. We are not taking in sufficient oxygen and we are not eliminating sufficient carbon dioxide. , As a result, our bodies are oxygen starved, and a toxic build-up occurs.
Every cell in the body requires oxygen and our level of vitality is just a product of the health of all the cells. shallow breathing does not exercise the lungs enough, so they lose some of their function, causing a further reduction in vitality. Animals which breathe slowly live the longest; the elephant is a good example. We need to breathe more slowly and deeply. Quick shallow breathing results in oxygen starvation which leads to reduced vitality, premature ageing, poor immune system and a myriad of other factors.
Why Is Our Breath Fast and Shallow? There are several reasons for this. The major reasons are: 1. We are in a hurry most of the time. Our movements and breathing follow this pattern.
2. The increasing stress of modern living makes us breathe more quickly and less deeply. 3. We get too emotional too easily.
We get excited easily, angry easily, and most of the rest of the time we suffer from anxiety due to worry. These negative emotional states affect the rate of breathing, causing it to be fast and shallow. 4. Modern technology and automation reduces our need for physical activity. There is less need to breathe deeply, so we develop the shallow breathing habit.
5. We are working indoors more and more. This increases our exposure to pollution. As a result, the body instinctively inhales less air to protect itself from pollution. The body just takes in enough air to tick over. As we go through life, these bad breathing habits we picked up become part of our life.
Unless we do something to reverse these habits, we can suffer permanent problems. The good news is that these are reversible. The bad news is that before we can change these habits, we should recognize and accept that our behavior needs to be changed. This means that we see for ourselves the benefits of good breathing techniques.
Certainly, yoga is not the only way to cope up with the stress and the resultant drop in oxygen supply to the brain brought on by the constricted breathing. A smoke, a coffee break, a trip to the restroom or a good laugh may all result in some readjustment of constricted breathing patterns. These can be thought of as “mini-yoga.” We can benefit by taking or seeking more smokes, breaks, trips or jokes. But for those whose occupations continue to be highly stressful, something more will be needed. deep breathing exercises and stretching of muscles, especially those primarily concerned with controlling inhaling and exhaling, should be sought.
Participation in active sports also will be useful. Going for a walk is very good. For those experiencing restricted breathing at night, morning exercises should be actively pursued. The Effects of Shallow Breathing 1. Reduced vitality, since oxygen is essential for the production of energy in the body. 2.
Increased disease. Our resistance to disease is reduced, since oxygen is essential for healthy cells. This means we catch more colds and develop other ailments more easily. Lack of sufficient oxygen to the cells is a major contributing factor in cancer, heart disease and strokes. With our ‘normal’s sedentary way of living, we only use about one tenth of our total lung capacity.
This is sufficient to survive and just tick over, but not sufficient for a high vitality level, long life and high resistance to disease. The ancient yogis knew the importance of correct breathing and developed techniques not only to increase health and life span, but also to attain super conscious states. The Medical Viewpoint on Fast, Shallow Breathing Modem science agrees with the ancient yogis on the subject of shallow breathing. An editorial in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggested that fast, shallow breathing can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, anxiety, stomach upsets, heart bum, gas, muscle cramps, dizziness, visual problems, chest pain and heart palpitations. Scientists have also found that a lot of people who believe they have heart disease are really suffering from improper breathing. Importance of Breathing Through The Nose The first rule for correct breathing is that we should breathe through the nose.
This may seem obvious, but many people breathe principally through the mouth. Mouth breathing can adversely affect the development of the thyroid gland. It can retard the mental development of children. The nose has various defense mechanisms to prevent impurities and excessively cold air entering the body. At the entrance to the nose, a screen of hairs traps dust, tiny insects and other particles that may injure the lungs if you breathe through the mouth. After the entrance of the nose, there is a long winding passage lined with mucus membranes, where excessively cool air is warmed and very fine dust particles that escaped the hair screen are caught.
Next, in the inner nose are glands which fight off any bacilli which have slipped through the other defenses. The inner nose also contains the olfactory organ-our sense of smell. This detects any poisonous gases around that may injure our health. The yogis believe that the olfactory organ has another function: the absorption of prana from the air. If you breathe through the mouth all the time, as many people do, you are cheating yourself of all this free energy (prana).
The yogis say this is a major factor in lowered resistance to disease and impairs the functioning of your vital glands and nervous system.
Add to this the fact that pathogens can enter the lungs via mouth breathing, and you can see that it’s impossible to be healthy, not to mention vital, if you breathe through the mouth. It is easy to break the habit of breathing through the mouth. Just keep your mouth closed and you will automatically breathe through your nose! Summary: Benefits of Deep Breathing We will now summarize the benefits of deep breathing. Deep breathing produces the following benefits: 1.
Improvement in the quality of the blood due to its increased oxygenation in the lungs. This aids in the elimination of toxins from the system. 2. Increase in the digestion and assimilation of food. The digestive organs such as the stomach receive more oxygen, and hence operates more efficiently.
The digestion is further enhanced by the fact that the food is oxygenated more. 3. Improvement in the health of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, nerve centers and nerves. This is due again to the increased oxygenation and hence nourishment of the nervous system. This improves the health of the whole body, since the nervous system communicates to all parts of the body. 4.
Rejuvenation of the glands, especially the pituitary and pineal glands. The brain has a special affinity for oxygen, requiring three times more oxygen than does the rest of the body. This has far-reaching effects on our well being. 5.
Rejuvenation of the skin. The skin becomes smoother and a reduction of facial wrinkles occurs. 6. The movements of the diaphragm during the deep breathing exercise massage the abdominal organs – the stomach, small intestine, liver and pancreas. The upper movement of the diaphragm also massages the heart. This stimulates the blood circulation in these organs.
7. The lungs become healthy and powerful, a good insurance against respiratory problems. 8. Deep, slow, yoga breathing reduces the work load for the heart. The result is a more efficient, stronger heart that operates better and lasts longer. It also mean reduced blood pressure and less heart disease.
The yoga breathing exercises reduce the work load on the heart in two ways. Firstly, deep breathing leads to more efficient lungs, which means more oxygen is brought into contact with blood sent to the lungs by the heart. So, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Secondly, deep breathing leads to a greater pressure differential in the lungs, which leads to an increase in the circulation, thus resting the heart a little. 9. Deep, slow breathing assists in weight control.
If you are overweight, the extra oxygen burns up the excess fat more efficiently. If you are underweight, the extra oxygen feeds the starving tissues and glands. In other words, yoga tends to produce the ideal weight for you. 10.
Relaxation of the mind and body. Slow, deep, rhythmic breathing causes a reflex stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which results in a reduction in the heart rate and relaxation of the muscles. These two factors cause a reflex relaxation of the mind, since the mind and body are very interdependent. In addition, oxygenation of the brain tends to normalize brain function, reducing excessive anxiety levels. The breathing exercises cause an increase in the elasticity of the lungs and rib cage.
This creates an increased breathing capacity all day, not just during the actual exercise period. This means all the above benefits also occur all day. Traditional Breathing Techniques We will look at some traditional breathing techniques. The purpose is not to suggest rigid techniques that needed to be followed blindly. Knowledge of these methods may be more important than the explicit directions themselves.
The methods are subject to some variations. These helps you to establish and practice healthful rhythms. You may also gain additional insights into the nature of the breathing processes, and how to attain additional relaxation through them. The Complete Breath Most of us use three or four kinds of breathing. These may be called high, low and middle breathing and complete breathing.
The complete breath is a combination of high breathing, mid breathing and low breathing. 1. High breathing refers to what takes place primarily in the upper part of the chest and lungs. This has been called “clavicular breathing” or “collarbone breathing” and involves raising the ribs, collarbone and shoulders. Persons with asthma, a tight belt, a full stomach or who otherwise become short of breath tend to resort to high breathing. One may deliberately draw in his abdomen and force its contents upward against the diaphragm and into the chest cavity in order to cause high breathing.
High breathing is naturally shallow and a larger percentage of it fails to reach the alveoli and enter into useable gaseous exchange. This is the least desirable form of breathing since the upper lobes of the lungs are used and these have only a small air capacity. Also the upper rib cage is fairly rigid, so not much expansion of the ribs can take place. A great deal of muscular energy is expended in pressing against the diaphragm and in keeping the ribs and shoulders raised abnormally high. This form of breathing is quite common, especially among women, probably because they often wear tight clothes around the waist which prevents the far superior abdominal breathing. It’s a common cause of digestive, stomach, constipation and gynecological problems.
2. Low breathing refers to what takes place primarily in the lower part of the chest and lungs. It is far more effective than high or mid breathing. It consists mainly in moving the abdomen in and out and in changing the position of the diaphragm through such movements. Because of this, it is sometimes called “abdominal breathing” and “diaphragmic breathing.” Sedentary persons who habitually bend forward while they read or write tend to slump into low breathing. Whenever one slouches or slackens his shoulder and chest muscles, he normally adopts low breathing.
We often use low breathing when sleeping. But whenever we become physically active, as in walking, running or lifting, we are likely to find abdominal breathing inadequate for our needs. To do low breathing, when you inhale you push the stomach gently forwards with no strain. When exhaling you allow the stomach to return to its normal position.
This type of breathing is far superior to high or mid breathing for four reasons: 6. More air is taken in when inhaling, due to greater movement of the lungs and the fact that the lower lobes of the lungs have a larger capacity than the upper lobes. 7. The diaphragm acts like a second heart.
Its piston-like movements expand the base of the lungs, allowing them to suck in more venous blood. The increase in the venous circulation improves the general circulation. 8. The abdominal organs are massaged by the up and down movements of the diaphragm.
9. Low breathing has a beneficial effect on the solar plexus, a very important nerve center. 3. Middle breathing is a little harder to describe since the limits of variability are more indefinite.
Yet it is breathing in which mainly the middle parts of the lungs are filled with air. It exhibits some of the characteristics of both high breathing, since the ribs rise and the chest expands somewhat, and low breathing, since the diaphragm moves up and down and the abdomen in and out a little. It has been called thoracic or intercoastal or rib breathing. But too often it also remains a shallow type of breathing. With this form of breathing, the ribs and chest are expanded sideways.
This is better than high breathing, but far inferior to low breathing and the yoga complete breath technique. 4. The complete breath, as defined by yoga, involves the entire respiratory system and not only includes the portions of the lungs used in high, low and middle breathing, but expands the lungs so as to take in more air than the amounts inhaled by all of these three kinds of breathing together when they are employed in shallow breathing. The complete breath is not just deep breathing; it is the deepest possible breathing.
Not only does one raise his shoulders, collarbone and ribs, as in high breathing, and also extend his abdomen and lower his diaphragm, as in low breathing, but he does both as much as is needed to expand his lungs to their fullest capacity. The yoga complete breath is the basic technique of all the different types of yoga breathing, and therefore should be mastered before you learn the specific breathing exercises. It brings the whole lung capacity into play and is the basis of the three specific breathing exercises. Keep in mind that this type of breathing is only done when you do the breathing exercises. The rest of the time you should be doing low breathing by pushing the stomach out slightly when you inhale, and then just letting the stomach fall back to its original position when you exhale. Also, make sure you are breathing through your nose and not your mouth.
Traditional Breathing Techniques We will look at some traditional breathing techniques. The purpose is not to suggest rigid techniques that needed to be followed blindly. Knowledge of these methods may be more important than the explicit directions themselves. The methods are subject to some variations.
These helps you to establish and practice healthful rhythms. You may also gain additional insights into the nature of the breathing processes, and how to attain additional relaxation through them. The Complete Breath Most of us use three or four kinds of breathing. These may be called high, low and middle breathing and complete breathing.
The complete breath is a combination of high breathing, mid breathing and low breathing. 1. High breathing refers to what takes place primarily in the upper part of the chest and lungs. This has been called “clavicular breathing” or “collarbone breathing” and involves raising the ribs, collarbone and shoulders. Persons with asthma, a tight belt, a full stomach or who otherwise become short of breath tend to resort to high breathing. One may deliberately draw in his abdomen and force its contents upward against the diaphragm and into the chest cavity in order to cause high breathing.
High breathing is naturally shallow and a larger percentage of it fails to reach the alveoli and enter into useable gaseous exchange. This is the least desirable form of breathing since the upper lobes of the lungs are used and these have only a small air capacity. Also the upper rib cage is fairly rigid, so not much expansion of the ribs can take place. A great deal of muscular energy is expended in pressing against the diaphragm and in keeping the ribs and shoulders raised abnormally high. This form of breathing is quite common, especially among women, probably because they often wear tight clothes around the waist which prevents the far superior abdominal breathing.
It’s a common cause of digestive, stomach, constipation and gynecological problems. 2. Low breathing refers to what takes place primarily in the lower part of the chest and lungs. It is far more effective than high or mid breathing. It consists mainly in moving the abdomen in and out and in changing the position of the diaphragm through such movements. Because of this, it is sometimes called “abdominal breathing” and “diaphragmic breathing.” Sedentary persons who habitually bend forward while they read or write tend to slump into low breathing.
Whenever one slouches or slackens his shoulder and chest muscles, he normally adopts low breathing. We often use low breathing when sleeping. But whenever we become physically active, as in walking, running or lifting, we are likely to find abdominal breathing inadequate for our needs. To do low breathing, when you inhale you push the stomach gently forwards with no strain. When exhaling you allow the stomach to return to its normal position.
This type of breathing is far superior to high or mid breathing for four reasons: 10. More air is taken in when inhaling, due to greater movement of the lungs and the fact that the lower lobes of the lungs have a larger capacity than the upper lobes. 11. The diaphragm acts like a second heart.
Its piston-like movements expand the base of the lungs, allowing them to suck in more venous blood. The increase in the venous circulation improves the general circulation. 12. The abdominal organs are massaged by the up and down movements of the diaphragm.
13. Low breathing has a beneficial effect on the solar plexus, a very important nerve center. 3. Middle breathing is a little harder to describe since the limits of variability are more indefinite. Yet it is breathing in which mainly the middle parts of the lungs are filled with air.
It exhibits some of the characteristics of both high breathing, since the ribs rise and the chest expands somewhat, and low breathing, since the diaphragm moves up and down and the abdomen in and out a little. It has been called thoracic or intercoastal or rib breathing. But too often it also remains a shallow type of breathing. With this form of breathing, the ribs and chest are expanded sideways. This is better than high breathing, but far inferior to low breathing and the yoga complete breath technique. 4.
The complete breath, as defined by yoga, involves the entire respiratory system and not only includes the portions of the lungs used in high, low and middle breathing, but expands the lungs so as to take in more air than the amounts inhaled by all of these three kinds of breathing together when they are employed in shallow breathing. The complete breath is not just deep breathing; it is the deepest possible breathing. Not only does one raise his shoulders, collarbone and ribs, as in high breathing, and also extend his abdomen and lower his diaphragm, as in low breathing, but he does both as much as is needed to expand his lungs to their fullest capacity. The yoga complete breath is the basic technique of all the different types of yoga breathing, and therefore should be mastered before you learn the specific breathing exercises. It brings the whole lung capacity into play and is the basis of the three specific breathing exercises. Keep in mind that this type of breathing is only done when you do the breathing exercises.
The rest of the time you should be doing low breathing by pushing the stomach out slightly when you inhale, and then just letting the stomach fall back to its original position when you exhale. Also, make sure you are breathing through your nose and not your mouth. Learning to Breathe Correctly We do deep breathing while asleep. Hence a simple way to learn how to breath properly is to simulate sleep.
Lie down, close your eyes, relax the whole body, drop the chin and imagine that you are asleep, thus letting your breathing become deeper and deeper. In Yoga deep breathing, you start filling the lower part of the lungs first, then you fill the middle and upper part. When exhaling you first empty the upper part of the lungs, then the middle, and last of all the lower part. This process, however, is not divided into three separate actions. Inhalation is done in one smooth continuous flow just as one might pour water in filling a glass. First the bottom is filled, then the middle, and finally the upper portion.
But the process itself is an uninterrupted one. Inhalation should be done in one continuous operation both the inhalation and the exhalation. Do it slowly and in a most relaxed manner. No effort or strain should ever be exerted. This is very important. Keep mouth closed.
You then become aware of the function of your own diaphragm. You expand the flanks when inhaling and contract them when exhaling. The lower part of the rib cage naturally expands first when you breathe in and is compressed last when you let the air out. This too should be done gently, without any force or strain. The chest remains passive during the entire process of respiration. Only the ribs expand during inhalation and contract during exhalation, accordion-fashion.
To use force during inhalation is completely wrong. One should do it with ease, without any tension or strain whatever. In deep breathing, exhalation is as important as inhalation because it eliminates poisonous matter. The lower part of our lungs seldom are sufficiently emptied, and tend to accumulate air saturated with waste products, for with ordinary breathing we never expel enough of the carbon dioxide our system throws off even if we do inhale enough oxygen.
If, on the other hand, the lower part of the lungs are properly expanded and contracted, the circulation in the liver and spleen, which are thus “massaged” by the diaphragm, are greatly benefited. Inhaling First, push the stomach forwards as you breathe in. Second, push the ribs sideways while still breathing in. The stomach will automatically go inwards slightly. Third, lift the chest and collar bone up while still breathing in. Even though this is described as three separate processes, it should be done in a smooth, continuous rhythm with each part following smoothly on from the previous part.
Try to avoid any jerky movements. Exhaling First, just allow the collar bone, chest and ribs to relax-the air will go out automatically. Second, when all the air seems to be out, push the stomach in slightly to expel any remaining air in the lungs. Exhaling is a more passive affair, except for the second stage when the stomach is pushed in slightly. Basic Instructions For The Breathing Exercises 14. Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted.
If doing the exercises inside, make sure the window is open to allow plenty of fresh air into the room. 15. Sit on a chair or if you prefer, cross-legged on the floor. Sit straight. Unless your spine is erect, some of the benefits of the breathing exercises will be lost. 16.
Breathe deeply and slowly, without strain. 17. You should do the exercises on an empty stomach. Wait at least three hours after a heavy meal, and about one and a half hours after a light snack, such as fruit. This are two reasons for this. First, a heavy meal will reduce your concentration.
Second, food in the stomach causes some of your blood and oxygen supply to be diverted to the stomach for digestion. This will reduce the blood and oxygen available for directing to the brain while you are doing the breathing exercises. 18. To gain maximum benefit, do the exercises twice a day, in the early morning before breakfast, and in the early evening.
It’s best not to eat for about fifteen minutes after the exercises. While doing deep breathing the spine should be kept straight, so as not to impair the free flow of the life-force, or prana. This also helps to develop correct posture. The yogis attach such great importance to correct posture that they have devised several different positions for their various advanced breathing practices as well as for meditation and concentration. One very popular pose for deep breathing is lotus posture or cross legged posture. When you sit down on the floor with your legs crossed, visualize a stream running through you in a straight line, starting at the top of your head and continuing into the ground.
Imagine, too, that this is the axis around which your body has been molded. This will help you learn to sit up straight without being stiff and tense. You should, in fact, feel comfortable and relaxed as you sit this way. Anatomy Of Breathing In normal respiration the air is taken in through the nostrils without any special effort, sound or exaggerated movement of the nose or chest. In short, it is done unconsciously.
We are not even aware of air traveling through our nostrils, down the nasal and oral parts of the pharynx, of its reaching the larynx and then the trachea and the lungs. In general, most of us are unaware of how the breathing process works. We will take a look at: Stages in breathing, Kinds of breathing, Organs of breathing, Processes in breathing and Ways of controlling breathing. Stages in Breathing Each single act of normal, unmodified breathing consists of four distinguishable stages: “Breathing In”, Inhaling Or Inspiration The Pause, Short Or Long, Between Inhalation And Exhalation. We Will Call This Retentive Pause And Readjustment Phase “Breathing Out,” Exhaling Or Expiration. The Pause, Long Or Short, Between Exhalation And Inhalation.
We Will Call This Stage Extensive Pause And Its Readjustment Phase. The two “resting” stages may or may not be very restful since the whole respiratory system, including its muscular and nervous mechanisms, undergoes a reversal of direction and multitudes of minute adaptations take place whenever each such reversal occurs. All four are entailed in a complete act of respiration. Kinds of Breathing We can distinguish at least 12 different kinds of breathing. These are given below.
Although yogic treatises do not normally do so, Dechanet, author of ‘Christian Yoga,’ identifies two ways of breathing: “One for men, the other for women.” He says that a woman’s breathing rhythm is more rapid than a man’s and that her upper chest expands first, whereas a man’s breathing rhythm is slower and his abdominal expansion comes first. Although, doubtless, physiological differences in men and women do affect their breathing, I suspect that the world over, women breathe more placidly than men and that the differences which Dechanet notices may be related partly to size of body rather than sex. Smaller bodies may be expected to have a shorter, and perhaps more rapid, rhythm stroke than larger bodies. The fact that women live longer than men, on the average, may be due to many factors; but a study of breathing habits in men and women, especially in the older ages, may prove enlightening. However, distinctions of sex do not normally play a significant role in discussions of breathing. 19.
Noisy versus quiet breathing is a distinction which has its significance in other conditions. Snoring may indicate deep slumber; wheezing, asthma and panting, shortness of breath; and other noises, clogging of nasal passages. But traditional yogic exercises do deliberately seek to control the loudness or softness of breathing and, in addition to giving directions for increasing loudness and softness, often combine both increases and decreases in subtle ways, synthesizing them in larger, more encompassing experiences, as in mantric chanting of the sacred symbol om. 20. Fast And Slow Breathing 3.
Regular And Irregular Breathing 4. Jerky And Smooth Breathing 5. Deep And Shallow Breathing 6. Forced And Effortless Breathing 7.
Voluntary And Involuntary Breathing 8. Mouth And Nose Breathing 9. The distinction between “high,”middle,” and “low” breathing, where most of the expansion is in the top, middle or bottom parts of the chest and lungs, and the joining of all three in “complete yogic breathing.” 10. The distinction between the mere passage of air in and out of lungs (with related physiological and mental effects) versus experiencing breathing as an affair of the whole body, the whole self, even of the whole universe as explored in pranayama.
11. The distinction between nervous and relaxed, vs. anxious and peaceful, breathing. As we can see from the above classification of various breathing types, the process of breathing is very complex. Organs of Breathing Our respiratory system consists of nose and mouth, pharynx and larynx, trachea and bronchi, lungs and thorax. Nose And Mouth The nose consists of an outer shape and skin (which often receives more attention), and two air passages (nostrils).
Your nostrils differ in size and shape from those of other people. Most people breathe primarily through one nostril more than another. Whether relatively long or short, large or small, straight or crooked, nostrils vary in circumference and contour throughout their length. The bottom or floor surfaces of the nostrils tend to be more horizontal and the top or roof surfaces have been shaped more like an arch.
A bony and cartilaginous septum separates your two nostrils. The several nasal sinuses, including the better-known frontal sinuses in the forehead above the eyes and the maxillary sinuses on each side of the nose, play various roles in breathing, thinking, illness and in yoga. Most of us realize their existence when they become infected, as with colds, hay fever, or noxious gases or dusts, resulting in headaches. Some sinuses appear to perform an important function in cooling the brain. Nervous activity uses energy which seems to generate heat that needs to be conducted away. Thus, somewhat like the radiator of an automobile, the sinuses may serve as a cooling system for the brain, which supplements the circulatory system wherein the blood serves as a coolant.
We seem to be able to think better when we have a “clearer head” resulting from well-ventilated sinuses. Deep breathing and posture exercises not only increase oxygenation through the lungs and circulation of the blood within the brain, but also tend to enlarge and clear the sinus cavities for freer air circulation. The skin lining the nostrils consists primarily of membranes which do not dry out easily in the presence of moving air. They are kept moist by secretions called mucus which sometimes dries and hardens into a cake which must be expelled. Hairs embedded in such membranes, especially near the outer opening, often grow into sieve-like mats which catch and repel small objects, insects and dust. Olfactory end-organs are embedded in these membranes and some areas have a thick, spongy tissue which expands, so much sometimes-especially when irritated by infections or allergies-that it closes the nostril completely.
Although yogic exercises may be insufficient by themselves to relieve clogged nasal conditions, they may help considerably. The mouth, too, is an important air passage-especially when we need more air than can be forced through the nostrils, as when we gasp for air or pant or puff, and when the nostrils are closed by swollen membranes or mucous discharge. Membranes lining the mouth and tongue seem to dry up from air movements more rapidly than nasal membranes though saliva aids in maintaining moistness. The oral passage may be closed by the lips, by the tongue pressed against the teeth or roof of the mouth, and sometimes with the aid of the soft palate. Directions for opening and closure, partial or complete, of the mouth constitute parts of some directions for traditional yogic exercises. Pharynx And Larynx The pharynx is the opening behind the nasal cavities and mouth.
It is bounded by the root of the tongue and is lined with tissues called tonsils which may become enlarged partially obstructing the passage of food and air. Two Eustachian tubes, which permit adjustment of atmospheric pressure in your middle ears, open from the sides of the pharynx. The pharynx ends in the esophagus or tube leading to the stomach and the larynx or “voice box,” which contains the vocal cords and glottis and muscles needed for producing sounds. A cartilaginous epiglottis at the top of the larynx aids in closing it tightly so that solid and liquid foods will not be permitted to enter it during swallowing. Respiration is interrupted during swallowing.
Yogis sometimes deliberately hold the epiglottis aperture closed to force holding air in or out of the lungs in certain exercises. Trachea And Bronchi The trachea or “windpipe” is a tube kept open against pressures because its walls consist in part of cartilaginous rings, or semi-rings. It is lined with a mucous membrane containing hair-like cells which beat upward toward the nose and mouth and move mucus and the entangled dust particles in that direction. It ends by dividing into two other tubes called bronchi which in turn branch again and again until they terminate in bronchioles, thin-walled tubes which lead to tiny air sacs with their small dilation’s called alveoli where most of the gas exchange takes place. The mucosa of the trachea and bronchi contain ciliated epithelium.
Lungs And Thorax Each of the two lungs consists of Bunches of bronchioles and alveoli, Blood vessels and capillaries, and Elastic tissue. These are arranged in lobes and are surrounded by a membrane that secretes a lubricating fluid. The lungs, together with the heart, occupy most of the thoracic or chest cavity, bounded on the sides by the ribs and on the bottom by the diaphragm. The diaphragm separates the chest cavity from the abdomen containing most of the digestive system. The pleural sacs and the inner lining of the thorax are airtight. Since the only opening from the outside is the trachea, air may be forced in or out of the lungs by enlarging or compressing the thoracic area.
Three sets of muscles are primarily responsible for changing the size of the thorax. These are: Those acting on the ribs, Those acting between the ribs and Those acting on the diaphragm Other muscles of the body, such as those in the arms, legs and back, may twist the body so as to distort its usual shape and exert pressures that squeeze or expand the chest cavity. A blow on the abdomen, wearing tight clothes, a full stomach or intestinal gas may also provide temporary pressures on the thorax thus affecting the breathing process. Processes in Breathing Respiration An average adult at rest inhales and exhales about sixteen times per minute.
Each time, half a liter (about a pint) of air is drawn in and expelled. At the end of a normal expiration, one may force out an additional liter and a half of air, leaving about an additional liter in the lungs which cannot be forced out. Also, after normal inspiration, one may inspire an additional one and a half liters. So it is possible to increase the amount of air inspired and expired during each breath from half a liter to three and a half liters.
Not all of the air breathed can be used by the body because some must remain to fill the nose or mouth, sinuses, larynx, trachea, bronchi and their larger branches. This is the “dead air” in contrast with “alveolar air” which participates in gas exchange. The shallower the breathing, the larger becomes the percentage of dead air in each breath. But also, in shallow breathing, more impurities are retained. Most breathing exercises in yoga have the effect of increasing both the amount and percentage of air which enters actively into the purifying gaseous exchange processes. The air inhaled normally consists of about 79% nitrogen, about 20% to 21% oxygen, about 0.
04% carbon dioxide, with traces of other gases and water vapor. Exhaled air often consists of about 79% nitrogen, about 16% oxygen, about 4% carbon dioxide, with traces of other gases and water vapor. Since the nitrogen content remains approximately the same the most significant change during the breathing process is an exchange of about 4% oxygen for about 4% carbon dioxide. Oxygenation When the percentage of oxygen exchanged for carbon dioxide remains the same, the total amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide exchanged per minute tends to increase as a greater air volume is breathed. One may, by strenuous exercise, increase the volume of ventilation to ten times the resting level. Or one may deliberately force increased ventilation without exercise.
When muscular exercise increases, the body needs more oxygen. When ventilation is forced intentionally, some increase in oxygen content and decrease in carbon dioxide content of the alveoli and blood may be expected. Part of the aim of both deep breathing exercises and posture movements and rests is to “purify” (increase the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide) the blood and the various parts of the body through which blood circulates. The interchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is possible because of the structure of the cells joining the alveoli and the capillaries and the laws and processes of gas exchange.
The movement of carbon dioxide from the blood to the alveoli takes place by diffusion. In diffusion, the carbon dioxide moves from the rich side to the lean side. When the blood contains more carbon dioxide than the air, the carbon dioxide will diffuse from the blood to the air. If, on the other hand, the air is rich in carbon dioxide, the diffusion of carbon dioxide from the blood to the air is inhibited. In extreme cases the carbon dioxide may even diffuse or flow from the air into the blood. Thus our breathing habits are very important.
Regulation A group of nerve cells in the medulla, the respiratory center of the brain, controls the contractions of muscles used in breathing. Inspiration takes place when the nerve cells of this group send impulses through motor nerves to respiratory muscles. When something, we do not know what, prevents these cells from sending impulses, inspiration ceases and expiration occurs. Apparently we do not use muscular energy and force to expel air but merely stop inhaling; then exhaling takes place automatically, without muscular effort. Since all respiratory muscles contract in a harmonious way, some organizing process in the brain marvelously coordinates their movements.
Apparently the respiratory center cells function much like the pacemaker tissue of the heart, since they seem to induce rhythmical patterns of respiration without outside help, even though they are sensitive to various influences which modify their action. In addition to the involuntary regulation and regularization of breathing patterns, many involuntary reflexes also exist, such as those noticeable in choking, sneezing, coughing, and swallowing. It is almost impossible to breathe while swallowing food. Other reflexes may be noted, such as sudden holding of breath when you sniff ammonia and similar chemicals. If your air supply has been cut off, you automatically gasp for breath.
Emotional excitement, fear, anger, enthusiasm all stimulate breathing, as may sudden increase in either heat or cold. There are voluntary control of breathing. For example, you can deliberately take a deeper breath or stop breathing momentarily. Such direct control may be supplemented by indirect intentional control, as when we dance or kiss or drink or smoke or sing. We may deliberately run for such a distance that we get our “second wind,” after which we breathe more easily even though exercising strenuously.
Part of the significance of distinguishing between voluntary and involuntary control of breathing is that yogic exercises aim first at changing unhealthy involuntary patterns voluntarily and then at an establishment of more healthy patterns. Whereas nervous tension produces some inhibiting influence upon deep, regular breathing patterns, deliberate effort to counteract these influences in such a way that our more completely spontaneous and uninhibited rhythmic patterns become restored as needed.