Air and Breathing
The Way of Breath
Air is vital to life and life ends when breathing stops in a matter of minutes. Breathing is inhalation and exhalation, a rhythmic muscular activity that is mostly automatic. Breathing can be consciously controlled briefly, usually to make sounds. All animals use air to communicate by making sounds. Humans have the most elaborate sound making ability. Breathing air becomes music and language. Life is air, food and water. Humans have lungs. Air has oxygen. Lungs take oxygen from the air and give back carbon dioxide. Oxygen enters the blood and combines with hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to every cell in the body. A cell will die without oxygen.
Air is a mixture of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen with traces of water vapor, carbon dioxide, argon, other gases and a variety of suspended particles. Carbon dioxide is only 0.03% of air volume, but is vital for life on earth. Plants combine the suns’ light energy with nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water to form organic molecules that animals like us will eat. Photosynthesis is the basis of life on planet earth. The oxygen we need is produced by plants, about 70% coming from ocean phytoplankton, the rest from land plants.
In Yoga, Pranayama is the practice of conscious breathing to center the mind, to develop the sense of well being and to promote health. Clean air and proper breathing are essential to health, clear mind and vitality. Learn about lung function.
Much human disease is airborne. Some of the most common diseases are spread in the air from person to person when infected humans speak, cough and sneeze. Some diseases involve immune reactions to airborne particles. Other diseases come from human activities. Learn about Airborne Diseases
While humans have a vital dependence on air and breathing, humans also have a remarkable disregard for air quality. Humans all over the planet pollute the vital substance that creates life on planet earth. Learn About Air Pollution