Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 29

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath
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Sloka 29

APANE’ JUHVATI PRANAM PRANE-PANAM TATHAPARE
PRANAPANA-GATI RUDDHVA PRANAYAMA-PARAYANAHA.

Others offer as sacrifice the out-going breath in the incoming, and the incoming in outgoing, restraining the sources of the outgoing and incoming breaths, solely absorbed in the restraint of breath.

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This Sloka is about breath control. It is a specialist subject and the sincere seeker should consult a proper expert in this field. It is my sincere request that the novices should refrain from such practices.

A properly measured breathing, according to the medical experts is one more tool for healthy living. This technique is known as “Pranayama.”

Normally the breathing is an involuntary act. An average adult breathes between 14-16 times per minute. It involves three stages of breathing in, holding the breath and breathing out. We take the oxygen in and breathe out the carbon dioxide.

Depending upon the impulses received from the external world, our breathing pattern changes. Anger, hatred, fear, lust disturb the mind and this in turns alters the breathing pattern. The faster we breath, greater will be the disturbance on the mind. This is because the brain receives less oxygen and retains more of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide dulls the mind whereas oxygen activates the mind.

Rhythmic breathing is seen during states of calmness of the mind. By practices of control over the senses, one could control the breathing. Properly controlled breathing by voluntary methods benefits the mind. The ancient seers of India, the masters in the development of the Hindu culture realised this truth and developed the technique of Pranayama.

Prana: the incoming breath.
Apana: the outgoing breath.

The three stages of breathing:
Puraka: steady intake of breath.
Kumbhaka: holding on to the breathed in air.
Rechaka: breathing out.

Repeating the three stages of the cycle of breathing, with correct time for each of three stages, accompanied by the chanting of the sacred syllable “Om” constitutes the technique of Pranayama. Breathing not only regulates the respiratory system but directly or indirectly regulates all other bodily functions which also come under the word “Prana.” In a broad sense, Pranayama is control of all bodily functions. We are told in this Sloka that even this control of breath should be in the form of a sacrifice.

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