Lessons from a Tortoise

According to the Vedic Culture; the faster we breath, the faster we die.

It sounds drastic but studies have indeed shown that longevity is indeed linked with how we breath. We can learn this from the animal kingdom. Why is it that most tortoises live beyond 100 years old whereas worker ants don’t usually live longer than 200 days?

A 300-year-old tortoise breathes a mere three or four times per minute, while an average human breathes at least 15 times per minute.

Elephants and ants can teach us that we can reserve our energy by slowing our breath, or we can use it up and work ourselves to death. It’s a beautifully simple lesson about the economy of energy. Certain studies have in fact shown that the more we breathe the less oxygen is provided for the organs in our bodies. Ideal breathing corresponds to very slow, light, and easy abdominal breathing. This is also known as  diaphragmatic or belly breathing. Certain Medical Studies have concluded that the normal respiratory rate for adults is between 10 and 12 breaths per minute at rest. Given the daily stresses etc, adults tend to breathe much faster at around 15-20 breaths per minute. When people are sick they tend to have a faster respiratory rate, at around 20 breaths per minute or more. The higher you go over 12 the less oxygen a person’s tissues will have and some argue that this puts a person at risk of cancer.

Hippocrates said, “Air is a pasture of life and a greatest ruler of all.”

To read up more about Breathing – The Vedas refer to Pranayama. Pranayama are breathing exercises which clear the physical and emotional obstacles in our body to free the breath and so the flow of prana – life energy. It is essentially about letting life energy flow through your body. You can also look into other versions of breathing e.g. the Buteyko method. Reading links:



slow breathing

What stress does to us 

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