In this hub you will learn why it is important to breathe properly, how to control and improve your breathing and heart rates and how it is done by ninja in ninjutsu practice.
Why is it important to control your breathing and heartbeat?
Breathing affects your health, your ability to function, and your entire life. It's basic to life, which means that without it you would die. It's affected by rest, exercise, excitement, age, or physical condition.
Scientists have discovered that all living creatures have about the same number of breaths and heart beats during their lifetime. Mice, for instance, have very rapid breathing and heart rates resulting in a short lifespan. Tortoises, however, have slow breath and less rapid heart rates, enabling them to live for hundreds of years.
Live Better by Breathing Better
If you ask a ninja how to improve the quality of your life, depending on your actual question, he may answer:
- Breathe better and you'll live better.
- Control your breath and you'll control yourself.
- Breathe wisely to be wise.
- Take long and slow breaths to live long and well.
- To be strong, breathe stronger.
- To be healthy, breathe healthily.
- To be happy, breathe happily.
- Breathe your purpose to have purpose.
- Cease breathing and you'll die.
How to control your breathing and heart rates in ninjutsu?
In the course of their training the ninja learns how his breathes affects the psychochemical processes of the body, and how he can control these metabolic changes through controlling his breath, awareness and focus.
Only through discipline, exercise and meditation can full and consistent control be achieved. For the ninja, this involves years of training in ninjutsu. But once attuned to his inner forces, the Ninja can draw on this internal power when it is needed. If you want to begin this process of learning how to be in control, you'll have to start with learning proper breathing.
Types of Breathing
There are three types of breathing (In, Yo and Zen in Japanese; Yin, Yang and Tao in Chinese): neutral breathing, positive breathing and negative breathing. All three exist on a linear scale of reference with no end points, as shown below:
When practicing ninja breathing, caution should be taken, as uncontrolled practice of certain breathing techniques can result in coma, heart failure, and death.
Neutral breathing is the basis for all breathing techniques, as it is for life. Neutral breathing is the natural breathing pattern you develops and use throughout most of your life. Depending on physical condition, your neutral breathing might be undisciplined - rapid and shallow. If this is the case, chances are you have an unhealthy lifestyle.
In truth, lots of people even drop into a pattern of negative breathing, the constant use of which results in lots of problems. Generally speaking, if you want to improve your health and increase your energy, you should learn to breathe more slowly and deeply. This pattern emerges as a natural consequence of good physical condition anyway.
How to measure your natural Breath and Heart Rates
To maximize the efficiency of your natural breathing, start by acquiring some knowledge of your present breathing patterns and heart rates. In fact, it is even better to have another person measure these rates, because the accuracy of measuring your own breathing is questionable.
To get your rates measured, relax and sit comfortably. The best way to measure a person's breath rate is doing it when they aren't even aware that their breath rate is being counted. This way the subject won't change his breathing in a subconscious attempt to make it look better than it usually is.
Try to measure someone's breathing who is facing away from you. You can do this when they are reading an absorbing book and are not paying attention to you. You can even catch someone listening to enjoyable music or calmly meditating on pleasant
The ninja did this by watching the rise and fall of the subject's chest, listening for his breathing, and counting the breaths of the subject within 15 seconds on a stopwatch. They would then note this number down on a piece of paper, wait a few moments and start over.
The ninja would
- take nine readings,
- add them together:
4 + 5 + 6 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 5 + 5 = 39,
- divide them by nine:
39 / 9 = 4,
- and multiply this average by four:
4 x 4 = 16 Breaths / Minute (Respiration).
Your next exercise is to measure the pulse of your subject for fifteen seconds under the same circumstances. Do this the same way as you did with the breath rate.
- 15 + 19 + 17 + 21 + 19 + 19 + 17 + 16 + 20 = 163,
- 163 / 9 = 18,
- 18 x 4 = 72 Heartbeats / Minute (Pulse).
You should make sure to measure the pulse correctly, using the index and middle finger of the hand. By using the thumb, you may confuse the thumb's own pulse and the the subject's pulse. You can find the pulse on the thumb side of the wrist, beneath the hand, or underneath the corner of the jaw, near the ear.
Breath and heart rates should be checked on a weekly basis to monitor how you are improving your level of physical fitness with practice.
Your goal for your natural breathing should be to develop a healthy, low breath and heart rate. For a ninja, 8 breaths / minute was considered an excellent neutral breath rate. A great neutral heart rate to achieve would be 50 to 60 heartbeats / minute.
You can't go for such numbers after a few weeks of practice, they must be developed slowly. Don't forget neutral rates mean heart rates you usually have in a relaxed state of mind and body. They will be higher during and after exercise.
How to control / improve your breath and heart rates
Once you've learned your neutral breath and heart rates, you should start by working on achieving these same rates, but with a different kind of breathing that is much more efficient.
People use natural breathing 98% of the time. Do you really want to get it wrong 98% of the time you take a breath? Obviously not. To breathe properly, inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, using the diaphragm to breathe deeply and smoothly. Shallow breathing is to be avoided, as it robs you of mental and physical energy.
According to ninja lore, people live short, unhealthy and unproductive lives, because of their failure to learn how to control their breathing and heart rates. Learn to breathe well through practice, practice and practice. Does that mean practice all the time? Yes, but after the correct natural breathing pattern is internalized it truly becomes natural, and you'll live longer in a happier and healthier way.
Another reason to learn proper natural breathing is that it serves as a basis for other breathing techniques and must be perfected before any attempt at learning other techniques.
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Ismail on March 06, 2014:
Haha! Nice job. That's pretty funny. I hate math and I am also in a rellay terrible math class. I'm in Best Buy and everyone here looked at me weird for laughing at your list
Jayashree on March 05, 2014:
i really liked the list of groups you belong to i also belong to dr.davis fantastic english class, and i'm part of the united states as well! isn't that a coincidence! that really made me laugh! good job with protecting the nation keep on keeping on!
Syng on March 04, 2014:
Er, Zac, ninjas are inibvisle. I'm pretty sure I've seen you in class.So, nope, come up with something else for that part of the list. And actually the exercise I assigned had a specific purpose, which was to get the student who did it to recognize that they had specific abilities and that they are a part of some significant groups.I did enjoy the creativity, though. You can put that down as something you do well. And, apparently, dodging the serious side of assignments.
Curiad on February 20, 2012:
Interesting hub Haunty, I studied Ninjutsu for many years and some Aikido. Breath control was a part of what we learned. I also used it along with cadence control and heart rate control in bicycling.
Thanks for sharing this good basic information!
Audrey Howitt from California on February 20, 2012:
What a great hub!
Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on February 20, 2012:
How interesting! I know that breathing is so important in so many things. I've tried to work on it through meditation. Great hub! Voted up and socially shared.
Haunty (author) from Hungary on January 25, 2011:
Funny guy. I'm choking with laughter, lol. I need a breath of fresh air. :)
Mentalist acer from A Voice in your Mind! on January 25, 2011:
This hub is a breath of fresh air,lol,Haunty.;)