The selected works of Mahatma Gandhi

Key To Health


Table of Contents

About This Book

Written by : M. K. Gandhi
Edited by : Bharatan Kumarappa
Foreword by : Morarji Desai
First Edition : 3,000 copies, December 1954
Fifteenth Re-print : 5,000 copies, March 2011
Total : 69,000 copies
ISBN : 81-7229-040-3
Printed and Published by : Jitendra T. Desai
Navajivan Mudranalaya,
© Navajivan Trust, 1954


Chapter 02: Air

No one can live without air as one canwithout water for a few days and without food much longer. Therefore,nature has surrounded us with air on all sides so that we can get itwithout any effort.
We take in air through our nose into our lungs. The lungs act as a sort of bellows. The atmospheric air which we breath in has a life-giving substance- a gas known as oxygen. The air that we breath out contains poisonous gases. These can kill us if they are not immediately allowed to spread out and get diluted by the atmospheric air. Hence the necessity of proper ventilation.
The air comes into close contactswith blood in the lungs and purifies it. Many people do not know the actof breathing. This defect prevents an adequate purification of theirblood. Some people breath through their mouth instead of their nose.This is a bad habit. Nature has so designed the nose that it acts as asort of filter for the ingoing air and also warms it. In mouth breathersthe atmospheric air reaches the lungs without the preliminary filtrationor warming. It follows therefore that those who do not know how tobreathe should take breathing exercises. They are as easy to learn asare useful. I do not wish to go into a discussion of the various asanas or postures. I do not mean to say that these are not important oruseful. Bu I do wish to emphasize that a well-regulated life outweighsthe advantage of studying elaborate postures that ensure breathing through the nose and free chest expansion is enough for ourpurposes.
If we keep the mouth tightlyclose, the breathing would have to be carried out by the nose. Just aswe wash our mouth every morning, the nose should be also becleaned. Clean water, cold or Lukewarm water is the best agent for thispurpose. It should be taken in a cup in the palm of the hand and draw upthrough the nostrils. It is possible to draw the water up through onenostril, the other remains closed, and expel in through the other byopening it and closing the former. The process should be carried outgently so as to avoid discomfort. In order to cleanse the back portion of the nose known as nasopharynx, water should be brought out by themouth or even swallowed.
We must see that the air that we breath in is fresh. It is good to cultivate a habit of sleeping in the open under the star. The fear of catching a chill could be dismissed from the mind. Cold can be kept out by plenty of covering. This covering should not extend beyond the neck. If cold is felt on the head, it can be covered with separate piece of cloth. The opening of the respiratory passage - the nose - should never be covered up.
The day clothes should be changed for loose night clothes before retiring. As a matter of fact no clothes are necessary at night when one sleeps covered with a sheet. Tight-fitting clothes should be avoided even during day.
The atmospheric air around us is notalways pure, neither it is the same in every country. The choice of thecountry does not always lie in our hands but the choice of a suitablehouse in a suitable locality does rest with us till some extent. Thegeneral rule should be to live in a locality which is not too congestedand insist upon the house being well lighted and well-ventilated.