Our lungs have the capacity to take in about four litres of air in each breath. The modern lifestyle has turned us into veritable couch potatoes that barely take half a litre of air per breath. That is only one-eighth of the requirement. Our diaphragm barely moves if we are sedentary, with the result that the lower part of our lungs hardly gets any oxygen. The shocking shortfall not only causes numerous aches and pains and diseases but also leads to negative emotions like anger, anxiety and stress.

Here are some ways you can learn to breathe better:

1. Set aside at least one hour every day for exercises which make us moderately breathless. Regular brisk walking is an ideal starting point.

2. You can also train yourself to take in more oxygen even when at rest. The technique is called yogic or diaphragmatic breathing. Lie down or sit comfortably. When you start inhaling, fill your belly from the lowest part up so that by the time you have taken the full breath, your tummy is protruding as well as the chest. Hold for a few seconds and then start exhaling while at the same time contracting your belly. This should be done preferably on an empty stomach. So reserve five minutes for this practice before breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. After you have practiced for some weeks, start spending all your spare time in mindful breathing.

Suppose you have to wait at traffic lights. Instead of ruing the delay, utilize the time for diaphragmatic breathing. As your practice increases, you will notice that you have started pumping your belly without even noticing. And yes, strong and fab abs are great side effects due to this technique!

3. The yogic way of breathing which involves ‘Kumbhaka’ (making a big belly after a deep inhalation and holding the breath for a few seconds) and ‘Rechaka’ (expelling all air and holding for a few seconds while the belly has been pulled in) helps one increase the lung capacity to as much as six litres. The air that you breathe, besides nourishing your body, has a vital force called ‘Prana’. The more air you pump in, the more vitality you have.

Content modified from the post by Amar Chandel on IANS.

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