Did you know that deep breathing enhances brainpower?
Read on, my personal story, and what and how I gained from this simple practice.
hanam esam kleshavat uktam
The removal of those interfering thought patterns is by the same means by which the original colorings were removed.
-Patanjali Yog Sutra, 4.28
Benefits of Deep Breathing:
- One of the greatest ways to remove a thought pattern, a deep hurt, or a strong habit, is through Deep Breathing.
- The greatest benefit of deep breathing is that it enhances our memory, improves the gray matter in the brain, and increases our intuitive power.
- It fills us with rich oxygen and helps remove toxins from our bodies.
- Change in a state of consciousness can be brought about by changes in the level of prana and vice versa.
- Helps us in stretching our muscles better.
- Relaxes our body, thus reducing our stress.
- Improves immunity.
- Keeps the spinal cord in the right order, thus improving our postures.
- Lowers blood pressure and anxiety.
In the Ashtang Yoga by Patanjali, the fourth limb is to do the right Pranayama. Modern science prioritized its importance during the covid times. If the breath is gone, the Prana Shakti leaves the body.
If you are breathing, you are alive. If you are not breathing, you are dead…that’s how we see BREATH as.
The text Yoga Vasistha says, (3:17) “the divine vital air, prana, does quite everything in the body, as a machinist performs the activities of a machine.”
April 2021 was one of the most troublesome times our country went through. Lack of oxygen, beds, and medicines was something we could have never imagined. It was during this time that I lost quite a few relatives and friends. Many young people succumbed to the covid wave. This whole scenario gave me shivers. I slowly went into depression and my pulse rate soared to 142. This was when I switched off my phone. I could not read the “sad demise” messages or the RIP messages. My anxiety levels were at an all-time high. This was when I decided that I would regain myself, come what may. That’s when I resorted to the Black lotus app on my Ipad and made sure I was regularly doing the deep breathing practice. Doctors put me on some anti-depressants, but Sid (my hubby) said, “wake-up Jay”, and I decided not to take them.
We sailed through these tough times only by the regular practice of deep breathing, as due to weakness I could not even do my basic yoga postures. The pain of losing my friends is still deep, but we have to learn to move on. I am glad that Om Swamiji has been watching over me and made me realize the importance of deep breathing through various means.
Last week, I happened to do a gut reset course conducted by an Ayurvedic doctor. It came as a blessing to me. The course emphasised a disciplined life inclusive of yoga, breathing, proper diet, and timely sleep. So, by His grace, I am able to lead a meaningful life of late. The Ashtanga yoga principles have actually helped me fight my Irritable Bowel Syndrome, digestive troubles, and other hormonal issues.
This is how I practice:
- Sit in a comfortable pose, keeping my back straight, chin parallel to the ground.
- Count Om1, Om2, Om3, Om4 while breathing in and Om1-Om8 while breathing out.
- Often visualize His lotus pink feet. (tell u a little secret- my breath is pretty deep when I keep my focus on His feet, pic attached)
- Deep breathing is a practice to be done slowly and gently, so I am very gentle with myself.
- Swamiji says it’s better not to hold your breath while doing deep breathing. There are other practices where certain breath holds can be done (they are called Bandhas).
- I started with five minutes initially and now go up to 20 minutes.
I have grown up seeing my grandfather and father do this simple practice. Maybe that’s why I could take up this lifestyle easily.
Wanted to share this verse which I have been reading lately from Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuran, 2.2.18-21:
“King Prakshit is taught how to leave the body while taking the last breath. A person must not allow his mind to get attached to time and place. With all detachment, one must pull up his anal muscle (mulabandha) take a deep breath simultaneously while sitting in a steady posture. Once the breath is steady, controlling his mind, one must merge his consciousness (chitta) in the Supreme Self. He must take his chitta through each chakra and finally resting at Ajna, if one wishes to visit higher worlds. If one wishes to merge with the Supreme, then he ought to go upto Sahasrara.”
So, now we know what we are supposed to do using our breath while we die, in case we are aware!
The text Yoga Yajnavalkya(7:20-21) says:
“One must focus and retain the prana, with the help of the mind, at the vital points. For one who does pratyahara, drawing the prana from one point to another, all diseases are destroyed. For him yoga attains fruition.”
These vital points are the seven main chakra points. This practice was taught to us by OmSwamiji in Kundalini Sadhana.
My dear friend, Manoj Singhal, suggested that I read the book Prana and Pranayama and Prana Vidya by the Bihar School of Yoga. These books are amazing reads and give a great insight into the power of deep breathing. Many diseases have been cured just with the right breathing. I would highly recommend you to read these books to understand the divine practice of breathing, the vital force of every living being on our planet.
84% of toxins are lost as?
Breath is the right answer. Amazed?! Even I was when I first read the answer. Thanks to my friend, Dr. Harrish Warrier, an Ayurveda expert, who gave me a deeper understanding of my Prakriti and the importance of deep breathing.
So, my dear friends, breathe mindfully.
I use the black lotus app for the right breathing techniques. Suggest that you download it asap. This app has changed my life and has made me calmer, happier, mindful, stress-free, focused, and smarter.
Till then, just be aware of your breathing. Make sure your tummy is out when you inhale and your tummy gets empty when you exhale. (Simple balloon formula)
I am taking deep breaths while typing this blog. Are you?
We can do this practice while doing any activity, like watching tv, walking, listening to a friend or playing ludo, etc.
I would like to thank Laxmi Duggirala for editing my blogs and books unconditionally.
Featured image from Black Lotus app.