Breath Is Life

Life is absolutely dependent upon the act of breathing. “Breath is

Differ as they may upon details of theory and terminology, the
Oriental and the Occidental agree upon these fundamental principles.


To breathe is to live, and without breath there is no life. Not only
are the higher animals dependent upon breath for life and health, but
even the lower forms of animal life must breathe to live, and plant
life is likewise dependent upon the air for continued existence.

The infant draws in a long, deep breath, retains it for a moment to
extract from it its life-giving properties, and then exhales it in a
long wail, and lo! its life upon earth has begun. The old man gives a
faint gasp, ceases to breathe, and life is over. From the first faint
breath of the infant to the last gasp of the dying man, it is one long
story of continued breathing. Life is but a series of breaths.

Breathing may be considered the most important of all of the functions
of the body, for, indeed, all the other functions depend upon it. Man may
exist some time without eating; a shorter time without drinking; but
without breathing his existence may be measured by a few minutes.

And not only is Man dependent upon Breath for life, but he is largely
dependent upon correct habits of breathing for continued vitality and
freedom from disease. An intelligent control of our breathing power
will lengthen our days upon earth by giving us increased vitality and
powers of resistance, and, on the other hand, unintelligent and
careless breathing will tend to shorten our days, by decreasing our
vitality and laying us open to disease.

Man in his normal state had no need of instruction in breathing. Like
the lower animal and the child, he breathed naturally and properly, as
nature intended him to do, but civilization has changed him in this
and other respects. He has contracted improper methods and attitudes
of walking, standing and sitting, which have robbed him of his
birthright of natural and correct breathing. He has paid a high price
for civilization. The savage, to-day, breathes naturally, unless he
has been contaminated by the habits of civilized man.

The percentage of civilized men who breathe correctly is quite small,
and the result is shown in contracted chests and stooping shoulders,
and the terrible increase in diseases of the respiratory organs,
including that dread monster, Consumption, “the white scourge.”
Eminent authorities have stated that one generation of correct
breathers would regenerate the race, and disease would be so rare as
to be looked upon as a curiosity. Whether looked at from the
standpoint of the Oriental or Occidental, the connection between
correct breathing and health is readily seen and explained.

The Occidental teachings show that the physical health depends very
materially upon correct breathing. The Oriental teachers not only
admit that their Occidental brothers are right, but say that in
addition to the physical benefit derived from correct habits of
breathing, Man’s mental power, happiness, self-control,
clear-sightedness, morals, and even his spiritual growth may be
increased by an understanding of the “Science of Breath.” Whole
schools of Oriental Philosophy have been founded upon this science,
and this knowledge when grasped by the Western races, and by them
put to the practical use which is their strong point, will work wonders
among them. The theory of the East, wedded to the practice of the
West, will produce worthy offspring.

This work will take up the Yogi “Science of Breath,” which includes
not only all that is known to the Western physiologist and hygienist,
but the occult side of the subject as well. It not only points out the
way to physical health along the lines of what Western scientists have
termed “deep breathing,” etc., but also goes into the less known
phases of the subject, and shows how the Hindu Yogi controls his body,
increasing his mental capacity, and develops the spiritual side of his
nature by the “Science of Breath.”

The Yogi practices exercises by which he attains control of his body,
and is enabled to send to any organ or part an increased flow of vital
force or “prana,” thereby strengthening and invigorating the part or
organ. He knows all that his Western scientific brother knows about
the physiological effect of correct breathing, but he also knows that
the air contains more than oxygen and hydrogen and nitrogen, and that
something more is accomplished than the mere oxygenating of the blood.
He knows something about “prana,” of which his Western brother is
ignorant, and he is fully aware of the nature and manner of handling that
great principle of energy, and is fully informed as to its effect upon the
human body and mind. He knows that by rhythmical breathing one may
bring himself into harmonious vibration with nature, and aid in the
unfoldment of his latent powers. He knows that by controlled breathing
he may not only cure disease in himself and others, but also practically
do away with fear and worry and the baser emotions.

To teach these things is the object of this work. We will give in a
few chapters concise explanations and instructions, which might be
extended into volumes. We hope to awaken the minds of the Western
world to the value of the Yogi “Science of Breath.”

Taken From “The Hindu-Yogi Science Of Breath” by Yogi Ramacharaka

For more articles on Yoga, visit 1-Yoga.Net

About Asoka Selvarajah

Dr. Asoka Selvarajah is a writer and teacher of personal growth and spirituality, and the author of numerous books and courses. His work helps people achieve their full potential, deepen their understanding of mystical truth, and discover their soul’s purpose.Subscribe to the Aspire To Wisdom list to receive more articles and resources to your inbox.

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  1. Can you do something spiritual to identify my personal problem? Because I am at a loss when it comes to telling you what I need. I was hoping you may be able to do something miraculous to help me understand what I need. If you remember me you’ll know that I’ve been reading your articles for some time now, but am to this day lost as to what I need to do. Meditate on this and tell me what you come up with. I don’t know what I need.

  2. Thank you so much for this article, it is such a “fresh” reminder of how simple it is to harmonize our mental and physical bodies with the divine intelligence of creation which gives life, and this understanding brings balance….

  3. Dear Asoka, I find your articles very insightful and informative. It gives me a view from the East and now I even posted one of your articles in my blog. May I know how what is ‘correct breathing’?

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