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How Indians Breathe

( Originally Published 1930 )

Proper breathing during the performance of all exercises is of the greatest importance. Do not attempt strenuous movement while inhaling. Inhale first and then make the move. It is advisable to take a full breath once or twice between exercises.

The Full Breath

EXERCISE I. This exercise develops the lungs and increases their capacity; it promotes diaphragmatic control and develops the chest. Using the entire lung capacity, as given in the full breath, it is both healthful and stimulating. A regular, rhythmic breath, taking the same number of moments to inhale, to hold, and to exhale, without jerking or forcing the breath or the respiratory organs, is the normal way to breathe.

Upon rising in the morning stand before an open window and inhale deeply ten full breaths, in the following manner :

Inhale. Keep the mouth closed. Begin at the diaphragm a little below the waist-line, and gradually draw the air up into the lungs at the lower ribs, expanding toward the sides ; then up into the chest and still higher up toward the shoulders and collar-bones, filling the upper lobes of the lungs, counting 10. As the air fills the upper portion of the lungs, the diaphragm will lift naturally and the muscles of the abdomen will draw inward and up. Hold and count 10. The same number of seconds should elapse between breaths as when inhaling or exhaling.

Exhale. Still holding the chest firmly, allow the pressure while exhaling to come first from the abdomen, drawing the muscles slightly in and up, then gradually expel the air—all of it. Count 1o. Relax the chest and abdomen.

The diaphragm will act automatically to inhale the next breath. Practice this full breath many times daily, whenever you think of it, and soon you will have established the habit of correct breathing and the body will be immensely toned thereby. Full rhythmic breathing of pure, fresh, cold air is enormously refreshing; it stimulates both body and mind to action. When practiced in the open air and sunshine it acts like a tonic. When mildly practiced, with the thoughts and emotions subdued, it has a calming and restful influence.

When employed in ordinary work, the breath need not be inhaled to the entire lung capacity but it should be complete, always using the diaphragm and the upper and lower lungs. This method gently massages the vital organs and strengthens them by moving them in rhythmic harmony, and greatly assists digestion and assimilation.

If a feeling of dizziness is experienced when first practicing the full breath, be assured that it is much needed, for it is an indication of weakness, through disuse, of the lungs and the muscles which sup-port them. Practice frequently, and by degrees increase the lung capacity.

If you have been in the habit of breathing in the old way, with the diaphragm moving in and out instead of up and down, it would help to place your hands on the abdomen and test the action.

Indians breathe deeply and rhythmically and therefore require much less food than the white man. They think constructively and send life-force throughout the body by will with the breath.

Clean the Lungs

EXERCISE 2.-Fill the lungs to capacity, using the full breath, then blow three times, on the one breath, expelling the air with force. Exhale thoroughly to be sure that the lungs are entirely empty. The muscles of the abdomen and diaphragm will draw inward and up suddenly and powerfully with each blow. This breath is very invigorating and, if used when fatigued, will increase the circulation and produce a warm glow over the entire body. At the same time it cleanses every crevice of the lungs, dispelling all stale air, and develops the muscles.

Overdevelopment of the lungs often enlarges and strains them, and is also dangerous because of enforced heart action. Do not strain over-hard with any exercise and remember always that a slow, steady, even development alone is desirable.

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