Day 18: Breath
In yogic tradition the breath is known as Prana. Translated to mean “life force,” Prana is “vital energy,” “breath of life,” “energy,” “spirit or soul” and “spirit-energy.” Our breath us what sustains our body, our life and our physical being. Although breathing is created through our autonomic nervous system without force or focus, conscious breath brings an awareness and connection to our life force in a way that deepens and enlivens our very being.
Thought for the Day:
When I first began my yoga practice, my focus was always on my poses. Teachers would assist me by aligning my hips or my shoulders. Slight adjustments here or there would help me feel more balanced or solid in my position. I was always encouraged to “return to the breath” and to allow each pose to be inspired by the inhale or the exhale. Yet for the first year(s) or so, I did not fully understand why following the breath was so important to my practice. I was under the belief that the value of yoga would be through the physical postures and the strengthening of my body. What I would come to learn later is that the physical benefits of yoga are more like an accidental “by-product” than the purpose. The actual purpose of yoga is to transcend the physical and connect with the spiritual. Yoga was developed, after all, by gurus on the mountaintop who were attempting to understand and experience interconnectedness, or God. The physical poses are a way to expand, activate, accelerate and access our much deeper and subtler energy body. It is our energy body, through the movement of our prana or breath, that allows us to experience the feeling of transcendence.
An orgasm is said to be “the wind” or “the breath” of a little extra life force. When we enter into sexual arousal with the intention of deepening or opening our bodies and our hearts to that higher experience, the orgasm acts as an extra breath of wind onto the flames of our inner fire. The orgasm actually causes us to transcend or experience that sense of interconnectedness in a much more tangible way.
Set a timer for three minutes. Find a comfortable seated position with a straight spine. Close your eyes and focus on your in and out breath. Try to make the in breath the same length as the out breath. Begin with a slow count of 5 as you inhale, and a slow count of 5 as you exhale. Follow your breath for the full three minutes.
Continue to follow your breath as you move into your self-cultivation practice. Follow your breath as your arousal heightens. Move slowly and with intention. Let the breath caress each chakra as you move your energy up and down your center column. As your breath increases, so does your inner-fire. Follow the flames.