Ageing is the process of becoming older. Ageing represents the accumulation of changes in a human being over time, encompassing physical, psychological, and social change. Reaction time, for example, may slow with age, while knowledge of world events and wisdom may expand. Ageing is among the greatest known risk factors for most human diseases: of the people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds die from age-related causes.
The scientific causes of ageing are unknown; current theories are assigned to the damage concept, whereby the accumulation of externally induced damage (such as DNA point mutations) may cause biological systems to fail, or to the programmed ageing concept, whereby internal processes (such as DNA telomere shortening) may cause ageing. However, ancient Indians were very intelligent and devised simple yoga poses that help in anti-aging.
Yoga and pranayama are the most accepted holistic exercises for (possible) absolute health as explained by biopsychosocial model. Pranayama is the breathing exercise highly recommended for various physiological and psychological disorders. Kumbhaka forms the basis of deepest breathing exercises (Pranayama) required to regulate the activities of mind and increase the concentration. This helps stabilizing the mind and lowering metabolism.
Kumbhaka is the “voluntary cessation of breath” and the extreme stage is known as Kevali Kumbhaka where respiration ceases and metabolic activities stop unless reverted voluntarily. It is of utmost importance for yogis (one who performs yogic exercises) to attain samadhi which becomes easier with kumbhaka as explained by yoga and religious scriptures.
Importance of Kumbhaka
Respiration includes inhalation and exhalation. In between these two processes there is a very minute gap or pause (normally in miniseconds) which is usually not noticed and it recurs, i.e, inhalation-pause-exhalation-pause-inhalation…. and it continues. The maximum gap or pause is observed in the state of rest. Kumbhak enforces to increase the pause by ceasing the breath routinely and continuously by various types of pranayama and kumbhaka exercises. It is being observed that more is the time spent for pranayama (and kumbhaka) increased is the concentration and better is the control over mind. Various ancient yogis (expert in yoga and pranayama) noticed the importance of respiration and its correlation with activities of mind and vital forces. Aging is also seen proportional to frequency of respiration or respiratory rate, i.e, frequency of inhalation and exhalation in one minute. Medical science recorded normal respiratory rate in humans as 12-16 breaths per minute with life span of 70-80 years. These figures may vary due to geographical, communal and other distribution factors.
Though the level of consciousness varies from species to species, it is seen highest in humans where conscious mind can provoke to perform activities and exercises as per wishes and this voluntary performance is not up to such an extent in any other species and consequently all other species cannot cease their breath as and when desired (voluntarily). Some species (e.g, whales) can take enormous air and cease it for a long time but that is spontaneous requirement and involuntary; and it is the necessity for them to survive this way.
Practicing kumbhaka for a long time increases endurance of physiological as well as psychological structure of an individual. Continuous and long term practicing increases the hold or control on breath up to an extent where it reaches to its extreme stage (Kevali Kumbhak) and the respiration is ceased permanently unless desired to get into normal state. Aging is proportional to metabolism which in turn is proportional to respiratory rate. Metabolism lowers down as the respiratory rate decreases and this helps prevent aging or at least lowers down the process. It has not been recorded scientifically whether kevali kumbhaka can increase age (or can make immortality a fact) by lowering down the basic reactions which support life, however, various yoga sutras and religious scriptures define samadhi and immortality (anti-aging) an approachable dreams for determined individuals.
Psychology of “Conscious” – The Real Life Myth
Human babies and other living beings of lower level of consciousness such as animals live real life, enjoy every moment, happy from all directions, open to all dimensions (of life), stay healthy and beautiful. Its because their activities are parallel to thought process. They are on the right way by nature and it all happens unless their spontaneity is disturbed. There is no restriction at all because there is no consciousness (to prompt). From the philosophical point of view consciousness is nothing but an easier way to restrict ourselves what to do and what not to do. The moment it starts happening the individuality divides…Most of the times mind gets diverted unconsciously to where consciousness wouldn’t like to surrender (may be due to ego) that is how the differences starts appearing (within) and this struggle of conscious and unconscious gives birth to psychological disorders.