At the centre of all existance is a rythmic cyclic movement, be it within our bodies or of everything external to it. Whether its the alternating of seasons, of day and night, of the movement of celestial bodies and of growth and decay, there is oscillation between two phases present in everything and at every level. Our breathing too is an oscillation between the phases of inhalation and exhalation. In fact there have been many examples of people from the Eastern (Buddhist and Yogic) cultures to have reached higher levels of enlightenment and consciousness only through the sustained exercise of their breath work. Proper diet and exercise are not the sole determinants of good health but coupled with proper breath work has known to enhance health. Meditation too relies heavily on proper breathing techinique. If only we could be more conscious and attentive of our breathing, we would not only have aligned ourselves to the rhythms of the universe but also expanded our consciousness.
Listen to this audio series, by Dr. Andrew Weil, called Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing which advises on a healthier life by the simple act of breathing correctly.
01_The Benefits of Breath Work 02_Following Your Breath 03_Begin With Exhalation 04_Squeeze More Air Out Of the Lungs 05_The Stimulating Breath 06_Make Breathing Deep, Slow, Quietly 07_Let Yourself Be Breathed 08_The Relaxing Breath 09_Combining the Stimulating & Relaxaing
In the words of Dr. Andrew Weil. . .
When learning how to breathe, begin by closing your eyes for a few minutes. Practice moving your breath. Keep your back straight. Begin with a deep, audible sigh, then quietly inhale and see how slow, deep, quiet and regular you can make your breathing and still have it feel perfectly comfortable. You should feel that you are getting enough air with no sense of not getting enough air. Do this for at least eight breaths, then open your eyes and breathe normally. This is a simple exercise but an effective one, and you should do it whenever you can.
Next, pay attention to your exhalation. If you watch people breathe, you will see that most of them use effort to inhale but none to exhale. Exhalation is usually passive and takes less time than inhalation. When you breathe this way, you do not move nearly as much air in and out of your lungs as you can. The more air you move, the healthier you will be, because the functioning of all systems of the body depends on delivery of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide. To get more air into your lungs, concentrate on getting more air out of them by attending to exhalation.
At the end of a normal breath try squeezing more air out. You will be using your intercostal muscles to do this, and you will feel the effort as they compress the rib cage. Try to make your exhalation as long or even slightly longer than inhalation. Whenever you think of it, practice this technique of extending exhalation and developing your intercostal muscles.
Read about Three Breathing Exercises And Techniques.