Science of Breathing (part ii) – Physiology of Breathing


Do you know that breathing is the only physiological function which is both voluntary and involuntary?

This means that breathing can be controlled consciously by the mind or it can be allowed to function automatically like other physiological processes like digestion under the control of the body’s central nervous system. Breathing is therefore an important bridge between the mind and the body and can influence them both.

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Science of Breathing (part i) – Breath is Life

Breathing is synonymous with life itself – this is the first thing we do at birth and the last thing we do when we exit this body. Breathing is important to sustain life. Yet, this natural process is often compromised by our environmental conditions, past conditioning or traumatic experiences.

From the Human Developmental Patterns developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, it states that the breathing pattern is the template for all other movement patterns and states of consciousness, any distortion at this level of the human being affects all other physical, physiological and psychological processes. Many modern scientists are now discovering what the yogis have known for thousands of years – i.e. yoga movement and breathing techniques increase our lung capacity and efficiency.  After having worked on breathing for more than 10 years, I absolutely concur with this truth. For these reasons, the breathing pattern is the first thing I work on with my students because fundamentally breathing connects them to the most basic life process and therefore with themselves.

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Let’s Get Back to Stable Family

We are aware that a family unit provides the early conditioning of a person’s personality. How we behave and what we become later in life is deeply connected to our family life. Psychologist like Erik Erikson talks about the psychosocial development in 8 stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. Each stage builds a successful completion of earlier stages.

In the Vedic tradition, the first 14 years of a child’s life is crucial in his or her development.  Till the age of seven, a child is like a sponge. Anything that the child is exposed to, the child absorbs. His/her mind and body grows at an amazing rate. In this phase, the child is in the visualization phase. Whatever the child sees is imprinted and embedded into his or her unconscious. The embedded memories start replaying as the child grows into an adult. These embedded memories drive many of the adult decisions. Between the age of eight and 14, the growing child is in the verbalization mode. The child starts learning languages and verbal imprints, not merely visual images, start getting embedded. Using words like happiness, suffering, etc., instantly evoke appropriate pictures and therefore emotions. During this entire period, the child is controlled by its parents or parent substitutes like grandparents or nannies. Most of what is embedded in their unconscious comes from the elders close to them. Hence the parents from which a soul takes birth from play a major role in a child’s upbringing. Fundamentally, as parents we have a huge responsibility in creating a loving and stable family for our children so that it brings less suffering and depression to them.

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