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

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 or
ans, 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."

Hatha Yoga, pp. 112, 113.