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  • Writer's pictureAYL

Part II. What is quality yogic breathing?

This article is a continuation of the previous one. The topic is "What is quality breathing?"

We do not insist “The absolute correct way to breathe”, but all possible modes of breathing.

Good posture with poise (that is mental or emotional tranquility) is in fact an excellent criterion of good posture. That will also help to develop overall physical and mental health. Neither excessive muscular tension nor emotional intensity is compatible with good posture. Good posture means acting smooth but without hurry; hurry means generally heightened muscular contraction.

Our state of mind is closely linked to the quality of breathing. Whatever happens in the mind influences the breath; the breath becomes quicker when we are excited and deeper and quieter when we relax. In order to influence our prana we must be able to influence the mind. Our actions often disturb the mind, causing prana to exude from the body. Through daily pranayama practice we reverse this process, as a change in the breathing pattern influences the mind.

The link between mind and breath is most significant. The Yoga Sutra says that when we practice pranayama the veil is gradually drawn away from mind and there is growing clarity. The mind becomes ready for deep meditation (Yoga Sutra II.52 and II.53). Following the Yoga Sutra, we can say that pranayama is first and foremost awareness of the breath: I am more aware that I breathe; I am conscious of my inhalation and my exhalation and perhaps of the pauses that naturally occur between breaths. The next step is then to answer this question: How do I remain conscious of my breath?

[ Find the core location of the breath ]

① Lie down on the floor, face up, bend your legs with the feet on the ground, now breathe in and raise your head off the ground.

Maintaining the head raised for twenty or thirty seconds, then let the head slowly return to the ground.

The person should proceed slowly, remaining in the position described until an even and rhythmic breathing is obtained.

② The next thing to observe is that in order to lift the head something is produced in the lower abdomen.

Put one hand on the lower abdomen very gently, and then lift your head. You will notice that the abdomen become “full” just before the head is lifted.

If you put one hand at the small of your back, and then lift your head. You will perceive that the area from the sacrum to the lower back will also become "full" just before the head is lifted.

As you can see by the above experiment, when you try to do any movement, please direct your attention to the core of the breath. You will soon learn to recognize very clearly that it is necessary to have a fullness at the same degrees in the lower abdomen and in the front and back of the sacrum to the lower back.

When you feel that the point below the navel (roughly the center of gravity in the body) is sensed as the source or center of action, you will achieve a light, smooth, and more stabilized posture.

Having experienced this sensation of fullness of the lower abdomen the area from the sacrum to the lower back, you will detect it quite readily every time you change attitude or start or stop any action, provided the action is easy and simple and your breathing rhythm is not broken.

Note that the result of quality breathing is not obtained by training and mechanical repeating, which at the same time do the faulty action. Improvement results from remaining aware of one's breathing while generating self-knowledge.

[You will see for yourself the effect of the quality breathing]