In the normal course of life, we breathe in
spontaneous response to an inner impulse but our thought is
rarely focused on the act of breathing, We are born knowing how
to breathe, and it occurs to us automatically, naturally. We are
breathing even when we are not aware of it. So it seems silly to
think that one can be told how to breathe. Even so, one’s
breathing is transformed by life experiences in many different
ways, not just momentarily, but habitually. We develop unhealthy
habits of breathing without being aware of it. For instance we
may have put on excessive weight that compels us to take
shortened breaths. We may be living in environments that are not
beneficial for the health of our respiratory system, and our
bodies may have adapted to the conditions even without our being
aware of what is happening.
With the pace of modern life, hurrying has
become a habit, and with a sense of hurry, we get too emotional
too 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.
Modern technology and automation reduces
our need for physical activity. There is less need to breathe
deeply, so we develop the shallow breathing habit. Working
indoors more and more increases our exposure to pollution, and
as a result, the body instinctively inhales less air to protect
itself from pollution. Without knowing it, our body just takes
in enough air to tick over.
And these bad breathing habits 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, and to help change these habits, we have the ancient
wisdom that comes through yogic practice that instill good
breathing techniques. The ancient yogic knew the importance of
correct breathing and develop techniques not only to increase
health and life span, but also to attain super conscious states.
These techniques are taught in yoga.