The respiratory system is a collection of passageways thats function is to filter and carry air into the lungs via the unconscious and instinctive act of breathing. It has been suggested by physicians that Hatha yoga unites the conscious mind with the instinctive areas of the brain, thus allowing for the unconscious breath to become conscious, deliberate and complete. During our asana practice, this connection is accessed by coordinating expansive movements with inhalations, and using exhalations as a means to work deeper into a pose.
Full, deep breaths allow for prana (energy) rich oxygen to nourish the body’s blood, brain and muscles, whilst cleansing the subtle channels. Focused breathing can enlarge and clear the sinus cavities, which in turn cools the brain for clearer thinking, offering a refreshed, quiet mind. Attentive breathing can also release and remove phlegm and debris, calm and purify the nervous system and promote unrestricted air circulation.
There are three processes in breathing: respiration; oxygenation; and regulation. The important gases needed for metabolism are exchanged during respiration, which then allows for oxygenation to occur throughout the body’s blood stream. The final process, regulation, involves the organization and coordination of the respiratory muscles to act in accordance. Being aware that voluntary and involuntary breathing patterns exist, and being able to distinguish between the two, can help us to voluntarily change unhealthy unconscious patterns into healthy ones.