The benefits of breathing right are both physical and emotional. It even gives you a sharper mind and smaller waistline!
There’s a cult of ‘breatharians’ — a group of people, who are learning to inhale and exhale the right way on retreats — on the rise all over the world. What was once an essential part of Eastern philosophy and yoga, is now being lapped up by the world. Want to know why? Learning to breathe right can help us get rid of chronic pain, constipation, skin problems, anxiety and insomnia. Goldie Hawn does it. As do other Hollywood actresses like Kate Hudson and Naomie Harris. The benefits of breathing right are both physical and emotional. It might also be the key to a smaller waist and sharp mind.
Says yoga guru Abhishek Sharma, “Breathing is the most important aspect of wellness. Most people breathe shallow, which affects their health. Learning to breathe deep can greatly enhance your health.” What are we waiting for?
INHALE AND EXHALE!
The Indian School of Breathing, Chennai, teaches breathing for creativity and better relationships too. According to Dr Sukanya, the founder of this school, mastering basic lung functions reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and neutralises the acidic effect in the body in minutes. Your oxygen intake increases.”
In her book Breathe, clinical psychologist Dr Belisa Vranich writes, “Breathing exercises can energise you better than a Red Bull and put you to sleep better than an Ambien. People need to know that breathing happens in the stomach and not in the nostril, which is why you need to breathe deep on a daily basis. A breathing class is a lung workout. It exercises your diaphragm, and if practised regularly, can positively affect your lung capacity. Increased blood flow to the brain and body has significant physical impact on your wellbeing.”
A deep, fuller, expansive rhythm of breathing can trick the mind to relax as the nervous system in the brain picks up a new message – I am not reacting. Yoga guru Mini Shastri, who takes her students on retreats to Kasauli, says “Breathing too fast and shallow is an epidemic today. Sometimes, it takes weeks for a person to unlearn the short, tight unrhythmic breathing at the start of a yoga class. The whole practice of yoga is designed to elongate the out breath: as it’s the out breath that determines the fullness of the next inhale. Long Om chants on an exhalation is one such technique.
HOW TO BREATHE RIGHT
Method 1: One way is to expand the inhalation time, followed by complete and long ‘Om’ chants, in which the exhalation automatically lengthens.
Method 2: Ujjayi, in Sanskrit, means to be victorious. Ujjayi breathing is known as ‘victorious breathing’. If you are following the Ujjayi breathing, make your throat tight and breathe out as though your throat was a valve which lets out air bit by bit. Turn your attention to the sound in the throat like a hiss or the sound of the ocean when you are standing far off, and can only hear it.
Method 3: Alternate nostril breathing or what we simply call Pranayama, allows both sides of the brain to collaborate by using alternate nostril at a time. When you press your right nostril and breathe through your left, the oxygen reaches the side of your brain that ‘feels’. And when you press your left nostril to let the oxygen reach the right side of your brain, you are giving fodder to the ‘thinking’ side.