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The Breathing Exercise Of The Yogi








Breathing exercise is one of the practices of Yoga, and somewhat
similar in its method and end to those of Zen. We quote here[FN#247]
Yogi Ramacharaka to show how modern Yogis practise it: (1) Stand or
sit erect. Breathing through the nostrils, inhale steadily, first
filling the lower part of the lungs, which is accomplished by
bringing into play the diaphragm, which, descending, exerts a gentle
pressure on the abdominal organs, pushing forward the front walls of
the abdomen. Then fill the middle part of the lungs, pushing out the
lower ribs, breastbone, and chest. Then fill the higher portion of
the lungs, protruding the upper chest, thus lifting the chest,
including the upper six or seven pairs of ribs. In the final
movement the lower part of the abdomen will be slightly drawn in,
which movement gives the lungs a support, and also helps to fill the
highest part of the lungs. At the first reading it may appear that
this breath consists of three distinct movements. This, however, is
not the correct idea. The inhalation is continuous, the entire chest
cavity from the lower diaphragm to the highest point of the chest in
the region of the collar-bone being expanded with a uniform movement.
Avoid a jerking series of inhalations, and strive to attain a
steady, continuous action. Practice will soon overcome the tendency
to divide the inhalation into three movements, and will result in a
uniform continuous breath. You will be able to complete the
inhalation in a couple of seconds after a little practice. (2)
Retain the breath a few seconds. (3) Exhale quite slowly, holding
the chest in a firm position, and drawing the abdomen in a little and
lifting it upward slowly as the air leaves the lungs. When the air
is entirely exhaled, relax the chest and abdomen. A little practice
will render this part of exercise easy, and the movement once
acquired will be afterwards performed almost automatically.


[FN#247] Hatha Yoga, pp. 112, 113.






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