... a seeker's outline !

"Our bodies are magical, designed in a way that tells us how a society, an entire city or the universe can live and function together in harmony, keeping each other balanced and content, making space for others as we grow and letting in lives as we procreate."

The lungs, situated within the ribcage enclosed by two pleural membranes. At the base of the thorax, separating it from the abdominal cavity, lies the diaphragm. This is the main muscle of inspiration, made up of large and small airways – the trachea being the largest and first of 23 generations of airways. The airways in each generation arise from the previous one by a system of irregular dichotomous branches like one from a tree. The smaller airways (respiratory bronchioles) contain alveoli in their walls. Alveoli are the site where the exchange of gases takes place, and their presence increases as the airways become smaller. This allows for the total surface area of the lung to increase exponentially allowing maximum opportunity for gas exchange.

Air naturally moves from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. During normal breathing, inspiration (PURAKA ) occurs by the contraction and flattening of the diaphragm and the contraction of the external intercostal muscles, causing a rise and outward movement of the ribcage. This increases the size of the thoracic cavity. These changes cause the parietal pleural layer of the lungs to move with the ribcage and diaphragm, creating a negative pressure. The visceral pleural layer attached to the surface of the lungs follows and the lungs expand, drawing air in.

Expiration (RECHAKA ) at rest is a largely passive process; inspiratory muscles relax and there is elastic recoil of the lungs giving rise to a state of pressure equilibrium before the cycle begins again. This movement of the chest wall is observed when respiratory rate is measured. Changes in occur in response to exercise, emotions and during sleep; those changes in RR associated with exercise and anxiety may be greater than 25 beats per minute but will usually return to normal in a resting, calm state.

In terms of yoga there are more dimensions to the breathing process than these two activities general population is normally aware of. In order to fulfil the purpose of the Pranayama practice one needs to understand these dimensions in detail. In ancient yogic contexts, having to know your breath, developing a control over it is something every seeker needs to master, as it is the only way you reach your deeper dimensions. We find multiple definitions of pranayama (the breath work) in our sacred yogic literatures like -

तस्मिन् सति श्वासप्रश्वासयोर्गतिविच्छेदः प्राणायामः II Yoga Sutras 2.48

(Pause between inhalation & Exhalation)

चले वाते चलं चित्तं निश्चले निश्चलं भवेत् । योगी स्थाणुत्वम् आप्नोति ततो वायुं निरोधयेत् ॥

Hatha Yoga Pradipika 2.2

( When the breath is disturbed, the mind is disturbed. When the breath is undisturbed the mind is undisturbed, and the yogi reaches a stable state. Therefore, one should do breath practice.)

“When the body is disordered, make use of the body to reduce. When thought is agitated, make use of pranayama to reduce.” – From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, The Yoga Rahasya Chapter Four verse 31

"The movement of the breath is a mirror to the movement of the mind." 108 pranayama Practice Pointers

Pranayama makes the core of all yogic practices we follow, like Asana, Mudra, Bandha, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi, each one of them requires you to pass that one door that breaches you through, and the air we intake acts as food and fuel to all our organs, defining a smooth functioning for all of them. The process includes inhalation – retention – exhalation, and at an advanced level retention - inhalation – retention – exhalation – retention, and requires us to be aware of it, to follow the passage where the air is moving and keeping a constant watch on the entrance and exit point – our nose tip. a slow and deep process that helps us in Extension and Expansion of the dimension of Prana the Vital force which is the very essence of our lives. The pause in between the inhalation and exhalation allows the oxygen to reach the dormant cells of our body, stimulating the function of all the organs, the brain cells, while retaining the breath outside allows all our cells, senses to expand and purify themselves, enhancing the capacity of our lungs.