Yogis classify Respiration into four general methods: High Breathing, Mid Breathing, Low Breathing, Yogi Complete Breathing.
BENEFITS OF YOGA
BRANCHES OF YOGA
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF YOGA
GETTING STARTED WITH YOGA
YOGA FOR MEN
YOGA FOR SENIORS
YOGA FOR WOMEN
STANDING YOGA POSES
SEATED YOGA POSES
PRONE YOGA POSES
A TYPICAL YOGA SESSION
YOGA AND SEX
FOUR METHODS OF RESPIRATION.
In the consideration of the question of respiration, we must begin by
considering the mechanical arrangements whereby the respiratory
movements are effected. The mechanics of respiration manifest through
(1) the elastic movements of the lungs, and (2) the activities of the
sides and bottom of the thoracic cavity in which the lungs are
contained. The thorax is that portion of the trunk between the neck
and the abdomen, the cavity of which (known as the thoracic cavity) is
occupied mainly by the lungs and heart. It is bounded by the spinal
column, the ribs with their cartilages, the breastbone, and below by
the diaphragm. It is generally spoken of as "the chest." It has been
compared to a completely shut, conical box, the small end of which Is
turned upward, the back of the box being formed by the spinal column,
the front by the breastbone and the sides by the ribs.
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The ribs are twenty-four in number, twelve on each side, and emerge
from each side of the spinal column. The upper seven pair are known as
"true ribs," being fastened to the breastbone direct, while the lower
five pairs are called (false ribs) or "floating ribs," because they
are not so fastened, the upper two of them being fastened by cartilage
to the other ribs, the remainder having no cartilages, their forward
ends being free.
The ribs are moved in respiration by two superficial muscular layers,
known as the intercostal muscles. The diaphragm, the muscular
partition before alluded to, separates the chest box from the
In the act of inhalation the muscles expand the lungs so that a vacuum
is created and the air rushes in in accordance with the well known law
of physics. Everything depends upon the muscles concerned in the
process of respiration, which we may as, for convenience, term the
"respiratory muscles." Without the aid of these muscles the lungs
cannot expand, and upon the proper use and control of these muscles
the Science of Breath largely depends. The proper control of these
muscles will result in the ability to attain the maximum degree of
lung expansion, and the greatest amount of the life giving properties
of the air into the system.
The Yogis classify Respiration into four general methods, viz:
We will give a general idea of the first three methods, and a more
extended treatment of the fourth method, upon which the Yogi Science
of Breath is largely based.
- High Breathing.
- Mid Breathing.
- Low Breathing.
- Yogi Complete Breathing.
(1) HIGH BREATHING.
This form of breathing is known to the Western world as Clavicular
Breathing, or Collarbone Breathing. One breathing in this way elevates
the ribs and raises the collarbone and shoulders, at the same time
drawing in the abdomen and pushing its contents up against the
diaphragm, which in turn is raised.
The upper part of the chest and lungs, which is the smallest, is used,
and consequently but a minimum amount of air enters the lungs. In
addition to this, the diaphragm being raised, there can be no
expansion in that direction. A study of the anatomy of the chest will
convince any student that in this way a maximum amount of effort is
used to obtain a minimum amount of benefit.
High Breathing is probably the worst form of breathing known to man
and requires the greatest expenditure of energy with the smallest
amount of benefit. It is an energy-wasting, poor-returns plan. It is
quite common among the Western races, many women being addicted to It,
and even singers, clergymen, lawyers and others, who should know
better, using it ignorantly.
Many diseases of the vocal organs and organs of respiration may be
directly traced to this barbarous method of breathing, and the
straining of delicate organs caused by this method, often results in
the harsh, disagreeable voices heard on all sides. Many persons who
breathe In this way become addicted to the disgusting practice of
"mouth-breathing" described in a preceding chapter.
If the student has any doubts about what has been said regarding this
form of breathing, let him try the experiment of expelling all the air
from his lungs, then standing erect, with hands at sides, let him
raise the shoulders and collar-bone and inhale. He will find that the
amount of air inhaled far below normal. Then let him inhale a full
breath, after dropping the shoulders and collar-bone, and he will
receive an object lesson in breathing which he will be apt to remember
much longer than he would any words, printed or spoken.
(2) MID BREATHING.
This method of respiration is known to Western students as Rib
Breathing, or Inter-Costal Breathing, and while less objectionable
than High Breathing, is far inferior to either Low Breathing or to the
Yogi Complete Breath. In Mid Breathing the diaphragm is pushed upward,
and the abdomen drawn in. The ribs are raised somewhat, and the chest
is partially expanded. It is quite common among men who have made no
study of the subject. As there are two better methods known, we give
it only passing notice, and that principally to call your attention to
(3) LOW BREATHING.
This form of respiration is far better than either of the two
preceding forms: and of recent years many Western writers have
extolled its merits, and have exploited it under the names of
"Abdominal Breathing," "Deep Breathing," "Diaphragmatic Breathing,"
etc., etc., and much good has been accomplished by the attention of
the public having been directed to the subject, and many having been
Induced to substitute it for the interior and injurious methods above
alluded to. Many "systems" of breathing have been built around Low
Breathing, and students have paid high prices to learn the new (?)
systems. But, as we have said, much good has resulted, and after all
the students who paid high prices to learn revamped old systems
undoubtedly got their money's worth if they were Induced to discard
the old methods of High Breathing and Low Breathing.
Although many Western authorities write and speak of this method as
the best known form of breathing, the Yogis know it to be but a part
of a system which they have used for centuries and which they know as
"The Complete Breath." It must be admitted, however, that one must be
acquainted with the principles of Low Breathing before he can grasp
the idea of Complete Breathing.
Let us again consider the diaphragm. What is it? We have seen that it
is the great partition muscle, which separates the chest and its
contents from the abdomen and its contents. When at rest it presents a
concave surface to the abdomen. That is, the diaphragm as viewed from
the abdomen would seem like the sky as viewed from the earth--the
interior of an arched surface. Consequently the side of the diaphragm
toward the chest organs is like a protruding rounded surface--like a
hill. When the diaphragm is brought into use the hill formation is
lowered and the diaphragm presses upon the abdominal organs and forces
out the abdomen.
In Low Breathing, the lungs are given freer play than in the methods
already mentioned, and consequently more air is inhaled. This fact has
led the majority of Western writers to speak and write of Low
Breathing (which they call Abdominal Breathing) as the highest and
best method known to science. But the Oriental Yogi has long known of
a better method, and some few Western writers have also recognized
this fact. The trouble with all methods of breathing, other than "Yogi
Complete Breathing" is that in none of these methods do the lungs
become filled with air--at the best only a portion of the lung space
is filled, even in Low Breathing. High Breathing fills only the upper
portion of the lungs. Mid Breathing fills only the middle and a
portion of the upper parts. Low Breathing fills only the lower and
middle parts. It is evident that any method that fills the entire lung
space must be far preferable to those filling only certain parts Any
method which will fill the entire lung space must be the greatest
value to Man in the way of allowing him to absorb the greatest
quantity of oxygen and to store away the greatest amount of prana. The
Complete Breath is known to the Yogis to be the best method of
respiration known to science.
THE YOGI COMPLETE BREATH.
Yogi Complete Breathing includes all the good points of High
Breathing, Mid Breathing and Low Breathing, with the objectionable
features of each eliminated. It brings into play the entire
respiratory apparatus, every part of the lungs, every air-cell, every
respiratory muscle. The entire respiratory organism responds to this
method of breathing, and the maximum amount of benefit is derived from
the minimum expenditure of energy. The chest cavity is increased to
its normal limits in all directions and every part of the machinery
performs its natural work and functions.
One of the most important features of this method of breathing is the
fact that the respiratory muscles are fully called into play, whereas
in the other forms of breathing only a portion of these muscles are so
used. In Complete Breathing, among other muscles, those controlling
the ribs are actively used, which increases the space in which the
lungs may expand, and also gives the proper support to the organs when
needed, Nature availing herself of the perfection of the principle of
leverage in this process. Certain muscles hold the lower ribs firmly
in position, while other muscles bend them outward.
Then again, in this method, the diaphragm is under perfect control and
is able to perform its functions properly, and in such manner as to
yield the maximum degree of service.
In the rib-action, above alluded to, the lower ribs are controlled by
the diaphragm which draws them slightly downward, while other muscles
hold them in place and the intercostal muscles force them outward,
which combined action increases the mid-chest cavity to its maximum.
In addition to this muscular action, the upper ribs are also lifted
and forced outward by the intercostal muscles, which increases the
capacity of the upper chest to its fullest extent.
If you have studied the special features of the four given methods of
breathing, you will at once see that the Complete Breath comprises all
the advantageous features of the three other methods, plus the
reciprocal advantages accruing from the combined action of the
high-chest, mid-chest, and diaphragmatic regions, and the normal
rhythm thus obtained.
In our ">next chapter, we will take up the Complete Breath in practice, and will give full directions for the acquirement of this superior
method of breathing, with exercises, etc.
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