Good morning, dear friends 😀
Yesterday, I went for my weekly Yoga class and learned a few techniques of breathing, called “Pranayama” or the science of breath control. My Yoga class was held at night and by the time I finished some chores and got into bed, it was quite late. But despite having just a few hours of sleep as I got up at 6am, I woke up with such a fresh in invigorating mind and body this morning, which I concluded must be a result of yesterday’s effective Pranayama exercise….because yesterday morning, I was fuzzy headed after I woke up and I have to wait for my tea to “kick start” my system! 🙄
In the Sanskrit language, “Prana” means lifeforce or universal energy and “Ayama” means to lengthen or extend, and in Pranayama, it is the controlling or regulation of our breaths. Actual, advanced Pranayama should be practised with a Yoga teacher but I am just going to describe some very basic but extremely health beneficial Pranayama methods that were taught by my Yoga instructor in my next few posts here.
Several researchers have reported that Pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress related disorders, improving autonomic functions, relieving symptoms of asthma, and reducing signs of oxidative stress.
Scientists have discovered that the chemical basis of energy production in the body is a chemical called “Adenosine Triphosphate” (ATP). When something goes wrong with the production of ATP, the result is lowered vitality, disease and premature aging.
Scientists have also reported that oxygen is critical to the production of ATP in our body. In fact, it is the most vital component. Yoga allows us to tap into this vital nutrient.
In our normal breathing, our breathing is often too shallow or too quick. We are not taking in sufficient oxygen and we are not eliminating enough carbon dioxide, and as a result, our body cells actually get insuffient oxygen, and the carbon dioxide toxicity slowly builds up in our body. Shallow breathing also does not exercise our lungs enough and our lungs lose some of their funtion, thus causing a loss in vitality. So, we need to breathe more deeply and slowly.
Why do we breathe fast and shallow, and that has become the norm for us? Well, there are a few reasons for this –
1) Our lifestyle these days are such that we are in a hurry most of the time, e.g. I rush in my house chores trying to get them done quickly, in between I drive my kids to and from their schools, plus I have to get our meals ready in time, etc. These days, I am trying to slow down and take more time-outs just for a breather. Our movements and breathing will follow this “hurried” pattern.
2) Stress makes us breathe less deeply and more quickly.
3) We get too emotional easily – we are stressed, we have anxiety, we are under pressure from heavy workload, we are sad in our relationships, etc … these negative states of emotions affect the rate of breathing, causing it to be fast and shallow. Our heart beats faster….
4) Modern and sedentary lifestyles reduces our need for active, physical activities. When I was attending school, I would take the bus and walk long distances in between to go where I wanted. But these days, I am driving myself….and not walking enough! 🙄 So, there is less need to breathe deeply and therefore, we develop a shallow breathing habit.
As we go through life, these bad breathing habits that we have picked up become part of our life….but we can do something about it ===> by recognising and changing our behavioural patterns, and engage in more beneficial deep breathing.
You may be surprised but actually, a good laugh is a fantastic way of replenishing our oxygen level at cellular level. Laughter also results in our brain producing endorphins, a feel good hormone. Hehe, earlier I read briefly that there is something called “Laughing Yoga” but I will leave that for another day.
Meanwhile, I think this form of Yoga will be especially good for smokers who definitely inhale much less oxygen and take in more toxins into their bodies than us non-smokers (my husband is a heavy smoker and I am trying very hard to get him to go for Yoga class with me next week!) 😆
In my next few posts after this, I will provide instructions on how to do Pranayama for great health! 😉
Have a wonderful day today! 😀