Correct breathing and all its benefits

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Correct breathing and all its benefits

I would like this publication to contain the information that can bring you closer to the understanding of breathing seen from the philosophy of Yoga. This is an aspect of such relevance for such a discipline, that it even has a part of the practice dedicated to it: Pranayama .

Introduction

To begin to understand 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. Breathing is so important. 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’re 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 .

Breathing is the first thing we do when we embrace life and the last thing we do when we leave it. Between an inhalation and an exhalation, a whole life happens.

respiratory system

As you know, the air we breathe reaches the lungs, which are two. The lungs are inside the chest, separated from each other by the heart and protected by the ribs, which have an articulated 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 channel, the trachea and its branches, and are shaped like tree branches, as you can see in the illustration. The texture of the lungs is spongy, porous, and their tissues are very elastic. They are surrounded 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 to reach 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 essential for life, for this reason the perfect system that is our body, makes neither the effort nor the will necessary 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 around 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, expiration will not be able to eliminate enough stale air either.

When venous blood toxins reach the lungs, part is destroyed and part 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 worn-out cells and tissues with new materials that nature transforms for its use. . Arterial blood, well exposed to air, contains about 25% free oxygen.

Each digestion that we do depends, among other factors, on the food being oxygenated and the pumping of the blood is also directly related to the pump that generates respiration in the body: poor respiration ultimately leads to cardiovascular problems, among others.

The movement that breathing constantly imprints on 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 organs of elimination.

The lungs expel out of the body 90% of the toxins that it generates or manages. Keeping them in good condition is life insurance, because if this capacity decreases, waste will begin to accumulate in the body and the resulting disease can reach such a serious state that it causes death.

life force

For the philosophy of Yoga , breathing provides us with the universal vital force that enters us through breathing in the form of Prana . Prana or Praná is the essence of all movement, force or energy, something more subtle than air and oxygen, which enters our body with each breath, a principle more fundamental than 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 vegetables breathe it with the air, but if it were not contained by it, they would die. It is taken together with oxygen, but it is not oxygen. It is in the atmospheric air, but it is also everywhere and penetrates where the air cannot reach, because it is more subtle than that.

We are constantly inhaling the Prana charged air and our body is ready to draw Prana from it. In an ordinary breath we extract a normal amount of Prana, but through controlled and regulated breathing (Yogi breathing), we put ourselves in a position to extract a greater amount, which becomes concentrated in the brain and nerve plexuses to be used when necessary. necessary.

Prana is distributed throughout our body through the Nadis, which are responsible for vitalizing our entire nervous system with this subtle component of the universe.

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 oxygen.

The latter is what most differentiates the Western from the Eastern view of breathing. For the West, breathing provides us only with oxygen, for the East, breathing is the spirit that animates the body. However, perhaps the Eastern vision is more accurate in light of the palpable reality. Breathing is primordial, 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 will be able to sustain life for a few minutes.

If we are short of breath we can maintain life for a few minutes.

Breathe well and correctly

We already know that breathing is an important function in the maintenance of 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 in terms of breathing, but we are going to give some general guidelines.

Breathe through the mouth or through the nose

When we breathe through the mouth, the air dries the oral cavity and the throat. The mouth has its important function, which is food, if it dries up, it cannot salivate 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 heat 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 expiration. The long sinuosity of the nostrils is lined with a warm mucous membrane, which aims to heat the inhaled air, so that it cannot harm the delicate organs of the throat or the lungs.

When air enters the lungs it is as different from the air outside as distilled water is 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 to select bones, skins, etc. and prevent them from passing into the stomach.

Also keep 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 that the air expelled over the nostrils performs. 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 to contract diseases.

Clean your nose to improve air quality

The Yogisof India carry out a daily practice to keep the respiratory tract in optimal cleaning conditions. This consists of immersing the face (or the whole head) in the water and absorbing it through the nose and mouth simultaneously, and then forcefully expelling 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 pits are very loaded or irritated it can even be painful. This is not a reason to stop doing it, on the contrary, it suits you a lot; but do it more carefully and maybe more spaced out; 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, which will increase the cleansing and detoxifying power of the technique.

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 some day to make trips to the forest or to the beach and breathe there. 

Wide clothes 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 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, instead of being adhered to the skin. Natural fibers are the ones that behave best when it comes to allowing the skin to breathe and breathe.

breathing in sports

In general, promoting good breathing benefits all sports, but for sports like 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 cover the high demand for oxygen.

conclusion

We have seen how breathing works in our system and I hope we have understood its importance for 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 nostrils, as well as techniques to clean them. Finally, I have outlined the importance of having good air quality, even if it is not on a daily basis. And I have discussed the importance of yogic breathing exercises . In future publications I will be teaching you the different Pranayamas that exist.