Harmonising the Breath – 3

When the breath is restless, the mind also becomes unsteady, but when the breath is still, so is the activity of the mind. Then a yogi attains a complete motionless state of consciousness. One should therefore restrain one’s breath.

     – Hata Yoga Pradipika 2:2

What food is to the body, breath is to the mind. While food nourishes the body, the breath nourishes the mind. The way one breathe influences his mind and vice versa. In fact, the fortress of life is guarded by the twin guards called inhalation and exhalation. So, pay attention to them and make friends with them and make the life the way you want.


Within one round of breath, three phases can be distinguished:



Pause between them

One phase flows into the other. The exhalation should be more than the inhalation. The pause in breathing arises naturally at the end of the exhalation phase and lasts until the impulse to inhale occurs of its own accord. The inhalation forms the active part of the breath. With it comes expansion of the respiratory muscles. The exhalation is the passive part of the breath, the phase of relaxation and contraction of respiratory muscles.

For example:

Inhalation for a count of four

Pause for a count of two

Exhalation for a count of eight

Pause for a count of two

Note: The counts for inhalation, exhalation and the pause might not be same for every person because of the difference in body structure.

Quiet, regular and deep breathing is decisive for our health. It has a harmonising and calming effect upon body and mind. Whereas breathing that is too rapid and shallow has a negative influence upon us, as it can intensify nervousness, stress, tension and pain.



Here one makes a noise while breathing.


Here the respiration is broken and irregular as if one is gasping for breath.

Emotional or Shallow

Here there is no noise or gasping, but it is uneven. One may inhale too quickly and exhale slowly. It depends upon the emotional state then.

The above three are inharmonious.

Pure respiration

Here the breathing is calm and in tune with nature with equal counts of inhalation and exhalation.   Say, 4 counts of inhalation and 4 counts of inhalation with a small pause.

Correct Breathing

While sitting the head, neck and spine should be straight, same while walking. This allows for correct breathing.

It is natural to have a little pause between inhalation and exhalation, but it is best to avoid that pause. Pause causes damage to brain cells and cause other damages. So try to avoid the pause. And also, increasing the exhalation induces cleansing the body of toxins. So while activities like playing or exercising if you can double your exhalation it is best, and while doing passive activities like reading and others exhalation should be a little more.

While breathing take note of the atmosphere if it is polluted it is best to do shallow breathing and do complete yogic breathing when the air is clean.



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