DEEP BREATHING

Since we want to control the breathing after studying the process or system of respiration, it is better to try deep breathing as the first state in that direction. We do not control the process of quiet breathing. But control is to be exercised while practicing deep breathing. For this, two things are to be considered: First, the movements concerned with inhaling and exhaling are to be controlled in order to further slow down the breathing, at the same time the need of oxygen for the body is to be lessened, so that the speed of breathing can further, slowdown. The constitution of the body is such that if the need or use of oxygen is not reduced, it becomes difficult or rather impossible to control the process of breathing. The easy way to reduce the need of oxygen is to stop the movements of the body and try to relax all the muscles. Obviously, while practicing deep breathing, it is necessary to keep the body in the stable and relaxed position. And this is possible in any sitting position of meditation. However, Padmasana is the best Asana position. The other preferable Asanas in sitting position are Vajrasana and Swastikasana. But once the Asana is taken up, it should be blissfully stabilized until the study of breathing is over. Any strain anywhere will cause distraction in breathing. Therefore the Asana position should be stable and pleasant, while doing meditation. The hands should be in Dhyana Mudra. The straight upright position of the neck, the spine and closed eyes help in attaining concentration without making any movements. Relax the muscles and concentrate fully on breathing. This will slow down the breathing and bring it to a particular point of speed and will get stabilized at that point. This is the ideal state of smooth breathing. This is free from any control. No movement is seen on the chest. It is confined to the movement of the muscles of the abdomen and the lungs. After having such smooth breathing for some time, the movements of the abdomen and the lungs should be brought under the control of the mind, and the movement should further be slowed.

The practice of deep breathing begins after deliberately having inhaling and exhaling at ease. Initially one should practice prolonged inhaling and prolonged exhaling. The constant practice enables the person in having repetition of such prolonged inhaling and exhaling. After some time it becomes difficult to have more repetitions of prolonged inhaling and exhaling. At such point one should come to natural smooth breathing. After some rest, deep breathing should begin again. Practicing deep breathing in this way for some days, attempt should be made to bring time limit to the period of inhaling and exhaling.  Initially equal time should be allotted for inhaling and exhaling. That is, the time given to inhaling, the same amount of time is given to exhaling. This is called deep breathing, with equal time and speed: "Samakal, Samagati, Deergh Shwasan". While practicing deep breathing, the numbers should be counted mentally. For instance, if inhaling takes four counts, the same period should be taken for exhaling. On such occasion normally it is noticed that exhaling completes at the second or the third point. So one should be alert regarding the speed of exhaling right from the beginning and try to maintain the balance. Of course after a few days' practice one successfully adapts to this system. To maintain the time record, one can use the second system in a watch. The study of deep breathing with equal time and speed should continue for 10 to 15 minutes without pause. Apparently this system seems easy, but that is not so. One finds oneself out of breath. But as said earlier constant practice helps in acquiring this system successfully.

After practicing deep breathing with equal time and speed successfully, one should start studying it by increasing the time for exhaling. If inhaling (Puraka) is in four seconds, then exhaling (Rechaka) shall take 5 to 6 seconds instead of four. This needs special efforts. When a person succeeds in doing inhaling and exhaling at the ratio of 1: 1 for 10 to 15 minutes, he should double the time for exhalation. The ideal ratio for inhaling-exhaling is 1: 2. Many times or Pranayama also the same ratio is stated. If the period for inhaling goes up to four seconds, then exhaling should be lengthened up to eight seconds. But both the operations should have the equal speed. That is, the speed of inhaling from the first second to the fourth one and the speed of exhaling from the first second to the eighth one should be the same. Of course it is not possible until one acquires control over the breathing system. One should practice deep breathing in the aforementioned way for 10 to 5 minutes at a stretch. In deep breathing one can further progress by increasing the period of inhaling and proportionately that of exhaling. That is the period of inhaling can be increased gradually from five to fifteen seconds and naturally that of exhaling from ten to thirty seconds. Observing this system carefully one can have as many repetitions as one can. In this system holding of breath is not included and hence this operational system is written as 1:0:2. The practice of deep breathing not only strengthens the lungs but also greatly helps in increasing the concentration of the mind. Then, there is a tremendous increase in zeal in day-to-day work owing to the good breathing and nice blood circulations, the twin gifts of deep breathing. Besides one starts acquiring control over the process of breathing.