Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Breath and Prana

I have explained many times how it has been that I have found the idea that so many yoga practitioners put forward which is that breath and Prana are one and the same to be off base.  I have sought to explain the incidental alignment of these two issues through my own experience with awakening and never having done a single moment of yoga in my life. For me, I was given an inside view I suppose, but it was a clear one.  I have sought to explain what Prana is and how it is excited in the body in an effort to give people the tools they need to really understand this force in a more thorough and genuine manner. My sense is that if you really understand something that seems mysterious to you, your depth of understanding will be manifold when you start with the foundation of what it is you are seeking to understand.  Unfortunately, there has been a lot of parroting of information.  This is just what the Veda's explain is the trap of reading books or seeking to absorb teachings from someone without the requisite work to really "get it."  "Getting it" requires feeling instead of thought, and this is what trips so many up.  Its a hard shift to make for us Westerners.  "Feel? What do you mean feel?" What I mean is that you slow or cease thought and allow feeling flow.  You become more sensitive to what is around you.  You begint o sense through your whole being.  You realize that sensory perception is much more than just your physical senses.  You just need to be able to stay with the feeling side of yourself long enough to begin to get the flow of information that is coming through.

Prana is moved by your willingness to surrender, to open, to become quiet, and to just feel. Feeling Prana is very much like entering into the inspired moment.  Being an artist, I am very familiar with how this state feels, and just as there are levels of intensity to it, Pranic movement is also very similar.  Using breath DOES help move Prana, but breath is not Prana. It isn't.  And now, finally, after reading the first few pages of my first book on Pranayama, there is a guru who is backing me up. 

So read the following quote from Sri Swami Sivananda, author of The Science Of Pranayama ©1937, 1997.

Svasa’ means inspiratory breath and ‘Prasvasa’ is expiratory breath. Breath is external
manifestation of Prana, the vital force. Breath like electricity, is gross Prana. Breath is Sthula, gross. Prana is Sukshma, subtle. By exercising control over this breathing you can control the subtle Prana inside. Control of Prana means control of mind. Mind cannot operate without the help of Prana. The vibrations of Prana only produce thoughts in the mind. It is Prana that moves the mind. It is Prana that sets the mind in motion. It is the Sukshma Prana or Psychic Prana that is intimately connected with the mind. This breath represents the important fly-wheel of an engine. Just as the other wheels stop when the driver stops the fly-wheel, so also other organs cease working, when the Yogi stops
  the breath. If you can control the fly-wheel, you can easily control the other wheels. 
Likewise, if you can control the external breath, you can easily control the inner vital force, Prana. The process by which the Prana is controlled by regulation of external breath, is termed Pranayama.
What he explains in a similar vein is that breath is just the way by which to stimulate the flow of Prana, but don't mistake breath AS Prana.  So I ask you, if this is front and center in a foundational book on Pranayama, which is the Way of Prana, why is it that so many people focus so deeply on breath work and speak of Prana as BEING breath? Perhaps it is because it sounds good to them and it makes all of this simple to understand or to relate to.  This can only be so when someone has not felt a Pranic movement or "rush" of the energy enough to be able to observe the energy in its fullest scope and learn from it and to understand how it moves and effects the mind and body.

It is time that we develop a means to stimulate prana without breath in order to help illustrate to students of yoga just what prana is.  It is time to show how prana can be induced in order to better understand this force which interpenetrates all things. This is the key to regulation of kundalini and in discovering ones own energetic constitution so as to keep from wrecking the mind and the body, which is easy to do when the kundalini moves. 

THAT will have to be the next installment, a series of exercises to help illustrate how prana moves independent of breath.  I will give you a sneak peek.  It involves focus, engagement, surrender and inspiration ("in-spire").


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