Breathing in Pranayama Yoga

Why oxygen is essential?

It is fundamental for the proper and efficient functioning of the brain, nerves, endocrine system and other internal organs. As we all know, without oxygen we will quickly die.

The brain requires more oxygen than any other organ. If it doesn’t get enough, the result is mental sluggishness, negative thoughts, depression and, eventually a decline of vision and hearing. An acute lack of oxygen very rapidly can result in brain damage or death; a slow decline of oxygen uptake causes a steady degradation of vital organs.

The ability of our bodies to oxygenate our systems declines as we get older and all the more so if we have a poor lifestyle.

Scientists have established that the chemical basis of energy production in the body is a molecule called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). If something goes wrong with the production of ATP, the result is lowered vitality, disease and premature ageing. Oxygen is critical for the production of ATP.

Importance of proper breathing

Breathing is something that occurs automatically, spontaneously, and naturally. We are breathing even though we might not be aware of it. So, it seems silly to think that one can or even needs to be taught how to breathe. Yet, over the years everyone’s breathing becomes modified and restricted in various ways, not just temporarily but habitually, we develop unhealthy habits without being aware of it.

For example:

  • We tend to assume positions such as slouching that diminish lung capacity to function properly, which results in shortened breaths.
  • A normally sedentary person when confronted with a problem tends to lean forward and then draw his/her arms together with a bent head. This body posture compresses lung capacity.
  • The more we concentrate on something, the tenser the muscles become. This leads to the contraction of the muscles in your arms, neck and chest.
  • The muscles that move the thorax and control inhalation and muscular tension 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 tired from the decreased circulation of blood and from the decreased availability of oxygen for the blood because we have almost stopped breathing.
Why is our breathing not adequate?

There are several reasons why our breathing becomes fast and shallow. The major reasons are:

  • We are in a hurry most of the time. The increasing stress of modern living makes us breathe more quickly and less deeply.
  • Modern life is stressful and tiring. As a result we easily get excited or angry, and most of the time, we suffer from anxiety due to worry. How many of the people around us are suffering from stress related sleeping disorders?
  • These negative emotional states affect the rate of breathing, causing it to be fast and shallow.
  • Modern technology and automation reduces our need for physical activity and therefore the need for efficient proper breathing.
  • Indoors sedentary work increases our exposure to pollution. As a result, the body instinctively inhales less air to protect itself from pollution.
  • As we go through life, these bad breathing habits we have picked up become part of our lives.

The good news is that these can be addressed and changed by retraining our breathing systems with regular practices such as the Lonchant techniques

The consequences of bad breathing are wide-ranging

With our ‘normal’ sedentary way of living, we only use a small part 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.

We experience reduced vitality, as oxygen is essential for the production of energy.

We become more prone to catch infectious diseases as our immune system is weaker. This means we catch more colds and develop other ailments more easily.

Poor oxygen supply affects all parts of the body.

A stroke can be the result of poor oxygen supply in the brain.

Scientists have known for a long time that there is a strong connection between respiration and mental states. Improper breathing produces diminished mental ability, especially through sleeping disorders such as sleep apnoea.

Old people and those whose arteries are clogged often become senile and vague because the supply of oxygen towards the brain is reduced.

People who have sedentary jobs and spend most of the day in offices have oxygen starved brains. They feel tired, nervous, irritable, and are not very productive. On top of that, they sleep badly at night so they get a bad start for the next day and this cycle continues all life long.