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The Anatomy of Yogic Breathing

The Anatomy of Yogic Breathing

Many of my yoga students ask me how to breath like a yogi. I often tell them it is the secret to longevity and a clear mind. The author of Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Svatmarama states that “When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath.” Long life is not the only reason a yogi practices pranayama, although the physical benefits are great. Breathing is an important part of our entire mental, physical and spiritual dynamic. By learning about breathing from an anatomical perspective, we can understand more fully why a yogi achieves long life and the balancing of these aspects of the self.

We can commence this anatomical study by looking at the main organs for breathing: the lungs. The lungs are principally responsible for transporting oxygen from the atmosphere into the bloodstream and then to release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, again through the bloodstream. In a normal breath, the average person can hold approximately six litres of air in the lungs. Those born at sea level develop slightly less lung capacity than those born in higher altitudes. Air enters the lungs through pathways called the bronchi and branchioles, and it is here that the exchange of gas begins. There is a collection of millions of specialized cells, which form…

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