A story that have never being told to us is saved in our first breath. When the fetus in the utero, the mother does the breathing. Her lungs deliver oxygen to the uterus and placenta. From there it travels to umbilical cord, which takes about half of the oxygenated blood to the inferior vena cava while the other half enter the liver. The sides of the heart are connected, by passing the lungs, which remain dormant until the child is born.
Being born means being separated from umbilical cord, the line life that sustain the fetus for nine months. Suddenly for the first time, infant needs to engage in action that ensure continued survival. The very first of these action declares physical and physiological independence. It is the first breath and it is the most important and forceful inhalation a human will ever take.
The initial inflation of the lungs triggers an enormous changes to the entire circulatory system. The first breath causes a massive surge of blood into the lungs, the right and left side of the heart to separate into two pumps, and the specialized vessels of fetal circulation to shut down, seal off and become ligaments that support the abdominal organs. The first inhalation must be forceful because it needs to overcome the initial surface tension of the previously inactive lungs tissues.
Another radical reversal that occurs at the moment of birth is the sudden experience of the body weight in space. Inside the womb, the fetus is in a cushioned, supportive and fluid-filled environment. Suddenly the child’s entire universe expands, the limbs and head can move freely and the baby must be supported in gravity.
Because adults support babies and move them around, stability and mobility may not seems to be so much issues in the early life of an infant. Infant begins to develop their posture immediately after taking the first breath, as soon as they begin to nurse. The complex coordination action between breathing, sucking and swallowing eventually provide them strength to accomplish their first postural skill, which is supporting the weight of the head. Head support involves the coordinated action of many muscle and a balancing act between mobilization and stabilization. Postural development continue from the head downward until after about a year, when babies begin walking, culminating in the completion of the lumbar curve develops up to about 10 years of age.
Having a healthy life on earth requires an integrated relationship between breath and posture, prana and apana, and sthira and sukha. If something goes wrong with one of this function, it will affect the other function. In this light, yoga practice can be viewed as a way of integrating the body system so we spend more time in the state of sukha, rather than dukha (unpleasant state).
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