The faster we breathe, the faster we die. Scientists have observed and pondered over a particularly queer aspect of certain mammals – the slower they breath, the longer they tend to live. A shrew and a tortoise are the most common being who exemplify this fact – that breathing is directly related to longevity.
The only discipline you need to impose upon yourself is –‘deliberately remind yourself to breath with awareness’, until, it becomes your second nature and life is restored almost permanently in a ‘homeostatic state’ even during the worst of the chaos around you. This deliberation in breathing should be accompanied with the following crucial components – slow rate of breath, deep inhalation and even lengthier exhalation, in a rhythm.
Breathing Rate Manipulation
Suppose your breath rate is 20 breaths per minute, you breath:
|In one hour||20 × 60||1200|
|In one day||1200 × 24||28800|
You begin to watch your breathing & improve your breathing rate to 15 breaths per minute, then, you breath:
|In one hour||15 × 60||900|
|In one day||900 × 24||21600|
You further train yourself to breath only 12 breaths per minute, and then, you breath:
|In one hour||12 × 60||720|
|In one day||720 × 24||17280|
Reducing the rate of breath from 20 per minute to 12 per minute leads you to save (21600-17280) 11520 breaths. Where does this saving go? What are the consequences of saving these breaths?
The literal consequence is – these extra breaths have been put into our breathing savings account, to be withdrawn, to allow you extra span of a healthy living later, when we have exhausted all the stipulated number of breaths.
What has this saving got to do with longevity?
During this transition from 20 breathes a minute to 12 breathes a minute, what would have happened to your body and mind?
- You would have worked on withdrawing your senses from the ever-present innumerable inane distractions to connect, better with yourself. Congratulations!! Your journey into self-realization has commenced.
- You had to work on slowing down your breath by inhaling deeply and exhaling deeply. Congratulations again!! By doing so, you had been able to infuse more oxygen in your body, thereby, bathing each organ, muscle, gland etc. with oxygenated nutrition. At the same time, you have been able to eliminate maximum carbon dioxide from the body, so that, the next circulation of air which reaches every corner of your body has optimal volume of oxygen and is not mixed with carbon dioxide, which would have been otherwise left behind in lack of optimal exhalation.
- The ratio of inhalation and exhalation in a respiration is 1:2 as per yogic texts. Breathing following the above ratio, your sympathetic nervous system (connected with inhalation and is the system of ‘fight & flight’) is only half active compared to the parasympathetic nervous system (connected with exhalation and does the job of homeostasis (bringing equilibrium)). Hence, the equilibrium of the body is always better enhanced.,
Advancing from breathing while entering the realm of Pranayama, you start pausing between your inhalation & exhalation. This ‘pause’ may be a minor pause in the beginning but with disciplined practice, this ‘pause’ is supposed to be four times the inhalation.
Can you imagine the drastic reduction in your breath rate every minute with pranayama practice? Further, improved quality of your respiration and then, the number of breaths then saved, would be further added to your breathing savings account. Though practically, one cannot be in pranayama every moment but with regular practice, one can definitely live contently with lesser number of respirations.
This discussion would prove to be unending if examples were to be quoted. Therefore, I would like to stop with a small task for you:
- Check the rate of your normal breath in one minute five times a day at regular intervals for a week.
- After a week, reduce the number of breaths deliberately by 10% and practice five times a day for 2 minutes each, at the same intervals as earlier.
- After another week, reduce the number of breaths deliberately by another 10% and practice five times a day for 2 minutes each at the same timing.
- In the fourth week, record the rate of your breaths, while breathing for two minutes each, five times a day, at regular intervals. The number of respiration would have drastically reduced by now.
These small practices will gradually help you transform from a lifespan of a shrew to a lifespan of a tortoise without you even realizing that. Do share your experience with us. You can take support of Yogic Breathing to move deeper into your practice.
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Shammi Gupta, founder of Shammi’s Yogalaya holds an MA in Yoga Shastra, is a certified Yogic Therapist and Naturopath, has completed an Advanced Yoga Course and holds a Diploma in Yoga Education from Mumbai University. She is a certified trainer from American College of Sports Medicine and holds an MBA in HR & MBA in Finance from The University of Akron, Ohio, USA. She conducts Health Awareness Workshops for Corporate, Yogasana Workshops for Athletes and Yoga Therapy Workshops on different medical issues for patients. Among the celebrities Shammi trains are eminent personalities from the film and television industry and corporate world.