The famous teacher in his Autobiography recommends that a learner’s body and mind must be calmed before deep (and thus effective) cognition can take place. His method of yogic meditation relies on breath-control, basically slowing the respiration rate (with deeper, longer respirations freeing up energy for more profound and meaningful action).
“The person whose attention is wholly engrossed (as in following some closely-knit intellectual argument, or in attempting some delicate or difficult physical feat) automatically breathes very slowly. Fixity of attention depends on slow breathing. Quick or uneven breaths are an inevitable compliment of harmful emotional states: fear, lust, anger (emphasis mine).
How would it be if class began with three genuine yogic breaths before any speaking were done? How much “harmful emotional state” would it dissipate? How much attention would it help to fix? Would it not marvelously focus attention on the present, squelch private conversations, and prepare brains for maximal development?
If nothing else, the group breathing–done standing or seated in one’s chair?– might be good for kids with ADD or loaded with stress.
And according to Swamiji, low respiration may be linked to longevity, with “the restless monkey” breathing at a rate of 32 times per minute, Man averaging 18, and the 300-plus year old tortoises needing just 4 breaths a minute.
So how does this sound after the bell: “OK, class. Let’s prepare our minds for learning with deep, yogic breaths” ?
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