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T H E S U B T L E B R E A T H I N G
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
"Breath is life" states a famous yogic proverb. In the absence of breath, life fades out.
When a child is born, his first breath is life. Any obstruction or delay of this process equals his death. On the other hand, the last breath of a person signifies his passage into another dimension and his parting from this world.
Between these two points in time, birth and death, the human being breathes incessantly, even if unaware of this process most of the time.
The yogic teachings have always stressed the importance of a correct pattern of breathing. According to the tantric teachings, a healthy person breathes approximately 21.600 times in 24 hours. This means one breath at four seconds.
Normally, a person breathes slower when relaxed, and faster when acting. The act of love usually accentuated the breath, the heart is more active, and the blood flows more easily.
However, the oriental sages tell us of certain prolonged erotic games where breathing is deep, rare, and fully controlled.
According to the yogic tradition, life is in close relationship with the pattern of breathing. One can easily notice this in the case of reptiles.
Take, for instance the turtle: it breathes rarely and has a long life. On the other hand, the mouse has a breathing pattern that implies fast breaths and lives a short life.
According to Gheranda Samhita, "By slowing the rhythm of your breath, the vital energy will reach high levels; by increasing the frequency of the breath, this energy of life will diminish".
Another Hindu important text, Shiva Samhita, states:
"The body of the one who regularly practices breathing techniques develops harmoniously, has a nice smell and becomes strong and attractive. The sage practicing these techniques will destroy all Karma from this life or from his previous lives.
Thus, many yogis devote their lives exclusively to this desiderate, that is obtaining the conscious and complete control over breathing, knowing that this will make them gain the control over their destiny."
METHOD FOR BECOMING AWARE OF YOUR BREATH
Try it even now, without having to change your ordinary rhythm or pattern of breathing. Place one hand on your abdomen, a little higher above the navel.
First, notice if the abdomen is completely relaxed when you breathe in. A normal breath occurs when the inferior part of the abdomen enlarges as the air gets inside the lungs and it contracts when breathing out.
Yet, many people breathe in a different manner. In addition, many people breathe only through their mouths instead of their noses. Such practice leads to losing the capacity to focus, to physical weakness and heart diseases.
Tantric learning asserts that, if the two lovers breath abnormal and they are stressed out there is the danger of impotence, lack of a normal libido, of emotional and mental problems as well as physical debility.
In the Tantric texts, as well as in the Taoist ones, the importance of breathing rarely during intercourse is accentuated because thus the conscience focuses on assimilating and retaining the energy of life.