Among the very most important texts in Yoga is the Yoga Sutras, written by the sage Patanjali in the 2nd Century, BC. In it, he articulates eight limbs which comprise the “Royal Path” of Yoga. The fourth limb, Pranayama, focuses on our Prana.
Prana is much more than our breath. It is our vital life force, and the energy of all life and consciousness. Every in-breath you take is a miracle. It is an affirmation and empowerment, a true gift of life and a direct conversation with the divine. Every exhale is a merging back into source, a letting go, a healing.
Yoga seeks to expand and invigorate our Prana so that we become more powerful and radiant, while at the same time becoming softer and more present.
There are hundreds of techniques in the science of Pranayama, and most should be practiced under the guidance or advice of a seasoned teacher. But becoming more familiar with your breath and vital life force is something you can do on a daily basis.
Deeper breathing helps to still the mind. It oxygenates your body, purifies your blood, helps to heal physical and emotional damage, and brings you more fully into the present moment. It is one of the primary passageways into the temple of Yoga.
I invite you to practice the Yoga of Pranayama in these ways:
- Breathe more deeply throughout your day, always through the nose, with an awareness of the process.
- Make your inhale and exhale equal in length, always slow and smooth as well as deep and full.
- In deep breathing, fill the belly first, then the ribs, then the chest. Exhale chest, ribs, belly.
- Notice your Prana, that vital life force inside you, and cultivate awareness of how your breathing effects it.