The Power of Your Breath
“The quality of your breath determines the quality of your life”, Peter Clifford.
One of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, Pranayama, can be defined as breath control or rhythmic breathing. Pranayama consists of two words: Prana & Ayama. Ayama means to stretch, extend, regulate or lengthen, describing the action involved in Pranayama. Prana means vital energy, life force or something that flows continuously from somewhere inside us, filling us, and keeping us alive.
Although Prana is closely related to the air we breathe, it is subtler than air or oxygen. Pranayama utilizes breathing to influence the flow of Prana in the nadis/meridians and chakras (energy channels) of the body and to eventually affect mind and consciousness.
The amount of Prana in the body and how it flows through the nadis/meridians and chakras determines one’s state of physical and mental health. According to The Heart of Yoga by T. K. V. Desikachar, if the amount of Prana outside of the body is higher than inside the body, we will not feel well.
A low level of Prana is expressed by the feeling of being stuck, restricted and lacking motivation or drive. If the Prana level inside the body is high, and its flow is continuous, smooth and steady, the mind will be calm, positive and enthusiastic.
However, due to lack of awareness and a shallow breathing pattern, the energy channels in the average person may be partially or fully blocked. Therefore one experiences increased worries, fear, uncertainty, tensions, conflict and other negative emotions.
One of the goals of Yoga is to influence the quality of our breath through Pranayama so that Prana can be concentrated and flow freely within us so as to be able to achieve a peaceful state of mind. The more prana is inside the body, the more content we will feel.
I have recently personally experienced the effects of not breathing properly. About 3 weeks ago, I caught a nasty flu with a fully blocked up nose, which meant I could hardly breath. After being ill for over a week, I noticed more feelings of irritability, anxiety and tension. Initially I did not attribute my negative state of mind to my shallow breathing.
Since I resumed my daily pranayama practice a week ago, I realised how shallow my breath had become due to my blocked nose. Within just a week of a daily 10 minutes Pranayama practice my mind is more at peace, more focused and full of positivity!
Meaning Namaste: My soul honours your soul. I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honour the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one!