Science of Breath
Breathing. We do it all day long, 24 hours, every passing second. But have you ever really thought about breathing and the science behind it? I came across the book, Science of Breath, and I have to tell you that after reading it, I was breathless!
It is a short book consisting of 112 pages, so the excuse of not having the time to read it is invalid. The book only has four chapters: “(1) Why Bother With Breath?,” (2) “Respiration And The Chest,” (3) “Following Your Nose,” and (4) “Portal To Higher Awareness.” The first chapter is a nice introduction on how the East connects with the West. It focuses strongly on Energy and why it is important to breathe correctly. The following two chapters are more scientific. They are written by Rudloph Ballentine, M.D. and Alan Hymes, M.D. Complemented by lively anatomical diagrams, it makes the content easy to understand, even for a non-medical student (like me!). The focus is on how breathing actually works in your chest, and the effects it has on your body each time you inhale. How does the air pass through your lungs to your heart, supplying your blood with oxygen? This intriguing question is answered in a straightforward manner. Moreover, the book answered a burning question of mine, “is there a difference between inhaling air as a second-hand smoker and between inhaling air in a congested city (like New York) full of stinking cars?” You will have to read the book to find out!
The chapters go on further to explain the act of breathing through the nose, and how it is connected to your thinking, and therefore, your mood. To quote from the book: “Just as the floor of the nose is the roof of the mouth, so is the roof of the nose also the floor of the brain and of the cavities which house the eyeballs. In other words, we are speaking of a three-story structure. The brain, eyes, and optic nerves occupy the top floor, and the mouth occupies the bottom floor. In between, on the middle floor, is the nasal cavity. That puts the internal nose in an interesting place since anything going on inside of it is closely related to the brain, the nervous system, the pituitary gland (which is located in the floor of the brain), and many other strategic structures.” (...)I am sure there might still be skeptics among some readers that this whole talk about the Body-Mind-Soul connection is nonsense; but I do not think I can make it any easier for you to decide for yourself than by presenting you with this book suggestion. The connection exists.
The last chapter, written by Swami Rama, deals primarily with the Yogic culture and its branch of pranayma (Sanskrit for Breath). He elaborates on the seven major Chakras (specific points in your body and along your spine that house different energies), emphasizing the use of certain breathing positions (with pictures!) to make you listen to your breathing. Furthermore, he elaborates on Meditation and the importance of the Mudras, (the practice of placing your arms, hands and fingers in a specific position to better connect with yourself).
Breathing has everything to do with your Mind and Mood and with your Body and Digestion. If you are interested in yourself and your body, I recommend you read Science of Breath. I think we all know that breathing is essential, but how aware are we of the mechanics of inhaling and exhaling?
- Chantal Hauser