I must have been short of breath when I suggested this topic…..something that happens to me a lot. I am an asthmatic and do not stir out of the house without my inhalers or out of the city without packing my nebuliser.

I have had asthma since 7 or so and I have had virulent attacks at least five times with hospitalisation. We take our breath for granted until it starts reminding us that it keeps us going.

Pranayama is an important part of Hindu medicine, treatment for illnesses, thought and philosophy. Pranayama (Sanskrit: प्राणायाम prāṇāyāma) means “extension of the prana or breath” or more accurately, “extension of the life force”. Life begins with the first breath that a child takes when it comes out of the womb. The last breath can be a rattling one or a quiet cessation of intake and outlet of breath. This intake and breathing out is called Anulom Vilom . It is the Alternate Nostril Breathing, one of the most effective breathing exercises that purifies the mind and body. It is very useful in releasing stress and anxiety and can be performed by people of all ages. This breathing exercise is most effective when practiced in a peaceful place, like an open window, a garden with plenty of greenery, roof top and where there is a lot of oxygen. You don’t really need a teacher to learn this technique.

To perform Anulom Vilom,

  • First close your eyes, relax all your muscles for a few breath counts, say 5.
  • Then close your right nostril with the thumb and breathe in deep from the left nostril.
  • Now open the right nostril and simultaneously close the left nostril with little finger.
  • Breathe out from the right nostril and breathe in from it.
  • Close the right nostril and open and breathe out from the left nostril.
  • Do this alternate left and right breathing in and out for 10 counts.

The benefits can be seen quite soon. This breathing helps the heart, reduces high BP, helps to clear heart blockage, sinus congestion is reduced, fights depression, anxiety, migraine pain, asthma and allergies. It is used by actors, (I have) to face panic attacks and
stage fright.

Make sure that you breathe into the lungs and not through the stomach as no organ in
the stomach absorbs oxygen. Do not hurry and do it at a measured pace. Rest in between
if you find the breathing becoming laborious.

The best time to practice this breathing exercise is early in the morning before having breakfast. You can also practice it after five hours after eating. This will allow the food that is consumed to get digested.

This breathing exercise has got nothing to do with religion.

However for me, the interpretation of the first breath and the last is associated with Ganesha, the elephant God, remover of obstacles and promoter of wellness and knowledge. From the first moment of birth, learning starts and many obstacles have to be crossed in a life span.

The last breath for me is Hanuman, the monkey messenger and faithful associate of Lord Rama. Hanuman is the embodiment of breath or wind with all its power to do good—he was able to leap across the ocean to reach Lanka where the wicked Ravana had imprisoned Sita, Rama’s wife after kidnapping her. Winds can also be destructive and Hanuman used his power to burn down the evil city of Lanka!

So Ganesha generates life and Hanuman helps you until the last breath. In our system of worship we begin with Ganesha and end with Hanuman!!

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, DeliriousGaelikaa,  GrannymarMagpie11,  Nema, Noor, Ordinary Joe, Paul, Maria the Silver Fox, Rummuser , Will Knott, and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get seventeen different flavours of the same topic.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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13 Responses to BREATH

  1. Delirious says:

    I did not know that Mauritius has a “little India”. Some friends of mine lived there long ago and loved it, but they never mentioned this fact to me. That makes me want to go there!


    • padmum says:

      Delirious–Mauritius has over 80% Indian population…these were taken as indentured labour from parts of India and Hinduism is the main religion. So it is not a little India–but a big India. I will blog about my Mauritius adventure soon.

      You should go there–it is a fantastic experience–really a piece of heaven. I spent 10 years there and throughout it was a wonderful experience.


  2. Hi padma,

    Interesting when can one begin the routine. My son is a little short of 4 , already been in hosp thrice with severe wheeze ,. pnemonia and doesnt step out without steriod inhalers. I do want him to grow out of it ,and live more normally would this help if i can get started early


    • padmum says:

      Anuradha–don’t worry…my Mum went through with me what you are going through with your son. YES! YES! YES! Start him on breathing exercises…do it with him..blow balloons..gradually build up his lung powers. Even if it is allergies, the better bellows will help him breathe. I am having pneumonia vaccines every five years and anti flu vaccine every October since 2007 when I had a really bad attack. It has helped me a great deal. Look at herbal medicines–the omavalli leaf, tulsi, warm haldi milk, liquid ghee and honey first thing in the morning…Sithopaladi powder, Chyavanaprash along with Allopathy medicines. We have forgotten these home remedies that really helped us. These herbs can only help, not take away from the regular treatment. Hope you don’t mind my telling you all this.


  3. blackwatertown says:

    OK – I’ll try it. It’s always good to tune out of the hurly burly for a little while and just be.


  4. Oh no … I do want someone to throw some light on coping with this . It is stressful for us to see our son literally struggle to breathe on those days. I have been giving him amla chyavanaprash and omavalli. vaccines , we are now more aware of what to repeat and what not to do ! yes lots of allergies. I get him to blow a whistle , and triball and also balloons off and on . anything to alleviate him is what I am looking at


  5. padmum says:

    Whatever you do , do it together with him…make a game of it. You have to blow the whistle, triball, breathing exercises etc. I know it is not easy at all. The Punjabis give a teaspoon of warm ghee and honey first thing in the morning for chest conditions all winter long. Asthma is a trial and error management. You would know best. The exercises must be done regularly for 5 to 10 minutes. Start first with a count of ten and then add more counyts slowly–again make it enjoyable. It can be done riding in the car, walking to a destination, while watching ‘Peppa Pig’ or ‘Dora’. Another exercise is Kapalabati. Take a deep breath and then exhale out of the noise loudly….should sound like sniffing and the stomach should go in with each exhale. Kids love it.

    Do feel free to send me email to ‘ventilate’ your own feelings.


  6. Rohit says:

    It is strange I’ve been looking for your post on Breath for a while now but somehow managed to overlook it thinking you didn’t write one. Finally good to have read it..very well summarised. It is such a complex thing really if one decides to dig deeper still…Honestly I’ve been putting this off for way to long…just can’t seem to begin and stick to a routine of pranayama. I noticed how easy it is to excuse ourself saying we have no time, but well, truth is at least I tend to be lazy sometimes. My mother on the other hand tends to be very regular with her pranayama and its incredible how well she has managed to control her hypertension even avoiding going on Statins altogether! One more of your post that’s showing me the mirror and encouraging to act than simply think 🙂 Good one!


  7. padmum says:

    Rohit–welcome to the club. I too am like that only!! Now I am trying to be regular but I need a prod like the one in the hands of the cowherd who uses it on his reluctant buffalo. One is my husband who relentlessly carts me to the gym. The other is my yoga teacher who comes home 3 times a week and pulls and tugs and counts out loud!!
    Remember you can do it anytime–don’t worry about a fixed time slot…other priorities take over!


  8. Marianna says:

    Hi Padmum,

    I’m sorry to hear that you have asthma. Are certain seasons worse for you?

    One of the things that I continue to practise is that sense with the stress techniques I teach is that sense of getting out of my head and into my heart. Breathing starts the process … positive feelings finish it. The best part, it can be done all day, anywhere, anytime.

    Years ago, I tore an article out of a magazine that describes the technique you use, plus three others.

    I hope that you’ll pay a visit to my newest blogging adventure – A Rheumful of Tips.


    • padmum says:

      Marianna–thanks for dropping by. Asthma or arthritis I don’t allow anything to pull my spirits down. I enjoy life to the fullest within the boundaries I have set for myself. I take the day as it comes and with age I have learnt to let go a great deal–things that upset me, things I cannot change and stuff that drag me down.

      I will defenitely read your tips–am stuck with a big assignment and will drop by soon.


  9. sreeja says:

    how we can know that whether we are breathing into lungs or to stomach.please reply.


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