Breathing style and state of well being are intricately related. This is Science. The rate at which we breathe and how we breathe is the best indicator of our physical well being. The reality is that Breath rate and style not just indicate physical well being but also the state of your mental and emotional health. Not just that your Breath is also a great indicator of your Vibration Frequency.
There are a few quick ways to gauge your overall holistic health :
1. Resting Rate - How many breaths do you take in a minute. Most people have resting breathing rates in the range of 12-25. For a start the lower your breath rate the better.
2. Depth of breath – Where is your breath flowing to? Only to your chest or is it going deeper into your stomach area or what we call diaphragmatic breathing? Most people in the world today are in the zone of chest breathing. Babies naturally breathe from their stomach but as they grow and emotional stress grows, breath starts becoming shallower and shallower.
3. Softness of Breath – How heavy or soft is your breathing? The lighter, softer and deeper, the better. While it is ok from time to time to consciously breathe longer and deeper, at which point it may become louder, what we are talking about here is Resting sound. Can you hear your self breathing quite loudly? Can people around you hear you breathing?
Lots of research has gone into finding out the relationship between breath and health and how we can use our breath to better manage both our physical and emotional health. I was fortunate enough to get some first hand information and results of my own breathing via very sophisticated breath measuring machines at the Swami Rama Sadhaka Graham Ashram Research center, run by Dr. Prabhu. This centre is dedicated to research and publications on impacts and benefits of meditation as taught by the lineage of Gurus of this particular Yogic tradition.
So how exactly are breath and emotions related? Alongside here you will find three screenshots of my breath rate taken in three different states of mind. This was all in a matter of minutes but conscious intention was placed on the three scenarios. I had wires, with measuring instruments tied on to me at my chest area and diaphragm area.
Scenario 1, Normal – To start with, I was told to measure my breaths for a count of three minutes. My total was around 22. After which I was just told to relax and breathe normally. The picture to the right is a glimpse of my resting breath rate. The white line indicates the level of diaphragmatic breathing and the red line indicates level of chest breathing. As we can see, I breathe at the rate of about 8 breaths a minute and have a pretty stable, healthy breathing style as indicated by the even looking white waves. The movement is also greater in the diaphragm area(white line) than the chest area, (Red line) which is what it should be.
Scenario 2, Meditative – Next we went on to close my eyes and focus on conscious deep breathing. Immediately my breath rate dropped and was at about 4 breaths a minute with much longer waves. In this case I was taking in a lot more air in both my diaphragm and chest area. I also felt a lot calmer and at ease in this stage almost as soon as it started.
Scenario 3, Stressful – The last test was to close my eyes and think about things that would normally be unpleasant or make me feel uneasy. The idea was to think back on something that made me sad or angry. As I closed my eyes and started thinking about some of those things, I felt quite happy as I felt quite unaffected by those thoughts. I didnt feel that my emotions had changed and I was looking forward to seeing the screen with my breath rate not very different from my normal breath rate of around 8. However I was surprised that within a minute my resting rate had raised to about 13! This was a surprise to me but does go to show the extent to which thoughts and breath are co-related.
So what is the point of this experiment? It goes to show how much our thoughts and emotions are related to our breath rate. Understanding this, and consciously making use of our breath, we can in turn change our thoughts and feelings. This is the basis of Pranayama, the breathing practices that are one of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Ashthanga Yoga espoused in the Yoga Sutras. Pranayama which can be said to mean breath control, teaches us to gain mastery of the respiratory process leading to a healthier mind and body. Use of breath is imperative to get maximum benefits from our Asana and Meditation practice.
Next time your mind is taking charge and your thoughts and emotions are keeping you down, turn to your breath and use Conscious breathing to relieve yourself from the stress!
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