Harnessing the breathFebruary 28, 2022 9:04 am
Did you know that some breathing techniques originate from the original yoga scriptures? Pranayama is important in yoga, not only for the physical benefits, but how it can build energy, enhance mental health and cultivate peace of mind.
Breath is life, the energy system of the body. Without it, we wouldn’t be here. Yet in the western world, until now, little attention has been paid to good working of the breath, which according to ancient yogic scriptures, is the key to optimum health.
‘A person who knows how to breathe is a person who knows how to build up endless vitality; breath builds up the lungs, strengthens the blood and revitalizes every organ in the body.’ Buddhist Tenet
What is Prana?
Prana is a Sanskrit word that is best described as a ‘life force’ found in all living things. Within prana is a cosmic energy that connects the universe together and is, in essence, the tangible manifestation of the higher self.
This electro-magnetic energy can be taken in mainly through respiration, but also can be taken through water and natural foods, especially those grown under the sun. It is this energy that charges the body both on the physical and subtle level and is the link between the conscious mind of a human being and its physical functioning. Respiration is the pumping system that channels this electro-energetic force around the body.
The consciousness of life is the breath of life, and the breath of life is the consciousness of life.’ Indra, the Vedas
What is Pranayama?
Pranayama is the fourth limb in the 8 limbs of yoga, the structural framework of yoga practice found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the oldest guidebook for the aspirant of yoga.
Pranayama is a series of breathing techniques said to develop concentration and clarity of thought. It is the path to deeper relaxation and meditation, a scientific method of controlling breath that helps in increasing the mental and physical powers of endurance. It provides complete relaxation to the nervous system. It provides relief from pain caused by the compression of nerve endings. It helps in increasing oxygen supply to the brain which in turn helps controlling the mind. When you follow your breath, your mind is drawn into activities of your breath. Pranayama prepares us, in this manner for the stillness of meditation to come.
Breath is the bridge between the body and the mind. How we think we breathe.
Importance of the breath cannot be underestimated. Have you noticed that when agitated the breath becomes faster and shallow, with short intakes of breaths? If our mind becomes agitated, this affects us physically, most markedly through the mechanics of the breath. In this situation, prana can’t easily travel around the body because of tension in the muscles and possible blockages occurring due to unresolved tension. In learning to breathe naturally again, the breath slows down, and you become calmer and relaxed. Internal blockages can be dissolved so that life force can move freely in the body and can function most effectively as an energy system for the body, on all levels.
‘To master our breath is to be in control of our bodies and minds.’ Thich Nhat Hanh
Breathing is the energy generation system of the body and pranayama works to enhance this system to its optimum capacity. Pranayama taps into cosmic energy and activates the body to a higher frequency, resulting in mastery of life force. With simple mindful breath work and pranayama, we can link the breath to our body and thoughts to consciousness.
By practising mindful breathwork and pranayama every day the physical and subtle nervous system and wiring become stronger. We fill up with light and energy, like increasing the capacity of a wire inside a light bulb to handle more wattage. And literally becoming ‘enlightened’.
Ceri has an online collection series called HARNESSING THE BREATH: 21 DAY CHALLENGE, to create a new habit of daily mindful breathing. You can access it here.
You can see Ceri’s upcoming retreats here.