We all know we need to breathe. We all know what happens if we don’t.
The respiratory system consists of our airways (the nose, mouth, voice box, windpipe and bronchial tubes) and the lungs, muscles and blood vessels connected to them. All the components of this system work together to enable our bodies to breathe.
Breathing is a smooth gliding two part motion. Firstly oxygen rich air is inhaled, so that fresh oxygen can be supplied to all parts of the body, and then secondly, air rich in carbon dioxide is exhaled as a means of eliminating this waste gas that has accumulated as a result of various bodily processes.
Each body cell needs oxygen for both energy and growth. We breathe about 20,000 times a day and while we are at rest we inhale about 7-8 litres of air a minute, that’s around 11,000 litres of air a day. Of that air about 550 litres is used as pure oxygen. So, if you have difficulty breathing or are using your lungs inefficiently you won’t be getting enough oxygen to keep your body operating effectively. You also won’t be eliminating the carbon dioxide that is accumulating. That means your body will slowly be starved of energy, have difficulty maintaining each cell’s health, and in addition, there is a poison like effect on the body due to the build-up of carbon dioxide.
Pranayama (breathing) and yoga postures can help improve the mechanical efficiency of our lungs by helping us use them to their full capacity, thereby delivering inhaled oxygen to the trillions of cells that make up our body, and helping each of them to function better.