We seldom think about breathing unless we have asthma, or are trying to huff and puff our way up a few flights of stairs, or are breathing our way through labor. We take breathing for granted, and because it is innate, who needs breathing lessons?
Most of us do not breathe properly. We are ineffective breathers, and over time our ineffective breathing leads to fatigue, stress, and other health problems.
Many of us breathe through our mouths. We use only the upper portion of our lungs to take in small amounts of oxygen. The diaphragm is seldom fully engaged in breathing, and we get only about a third of the oxygen our lungs need. By not filling our lungs to capacity with oxygen, we rob ourselves of vitality.
“Pranayama is the link between the mental and physical disciplines. It makes the mind calm, lucid, and steady.” Swami Vishnu Devananda, The Sivananda Companion to Yoga.