Breath is Life. It grows because that’s nature! Cells exhale and inhale. They give birth to new cells according to memory, in the miracle of creation, that we so often oversee when rapt in inner dialogue.
I was always striving for more, seeking to please, as we all do when we forget who we are. A few years ago, I began a daily pranayam practice. Prana is the breath, or life force. It is pure energy which gives and sustains all life in whichever state it presently resides.
Exhale is letting go.
Inhale is receiving.
Within this binary, we have all that we need. Pranayam is the art, science and way of wakeful living.
The breath is the hub of all that we are, think and do. It provides access to the mind and its deepest recesses. Pranayam, or yogic breathing practices, enable us to voyage in a steady vessel, to new territories, in order that we may continue to expand in harmony with our ever growing universe.
Breathing practices are combined with asanas (postures and stances), mudras and bandhas (seals and locks), to regulate a balanced flow of prana or chi, within the mind-body. Energy cultivation is simply the art of relaxing in to our natural state of meditation. This is ‘pure beingness’, where the ‘doer’ acts in accord with the divine script, for the good of all other ‘actors’ in this play.
Pranayam teach us that life flows into and out of us, via the breath. This leads to awareness of being, intention and positive acts. When I gaze over my shoulder, I see that all I ever needed came to me. There was no need for effort on my part. Effort always drained me, as it arose from a place of fear and clutching for personal gain.
Exercise 1. Exhale Heavy – Inhale Light
A wonderful key to the breath is to LET GO with the exhalation.
When you breathe out you are re-leasing your life. You are letting go. This takes no effort.
As you breathe out, allow your body-mind to feel heavy, as though it is moving downwards, with the gravitational pull of the earth. Give yourself to your breath.
Exhale Heavy with the feeling of letting go at the end of a busy day, or putting down a load of heavy shopping. How do you feel when you do this?
Inhalation – As you breathe in, allow your body-mind to feel light, as though it is lifting upwards away from the earth.
See the effect of trying both of these extremely simple ideas.
When you are heavy and grounded, you feel stable and calm.
When you are light and buoyant, you feel free and uplifted.
The interplay of these two opposing forces, exhale-gravity and inhale-levity, brings them together, like two atoms in nuclear fusion.
Exercise 2. Now add this formula to your breath
When breathing out, you are aware you are breathing out.
When breathing in, you are aware you are breathing in.
This awareness of the present moment gives rise to ‘being’, in which we see that all is as it is meant to be.
These two exercises prove to us that our breathing has a direct relationship with our outlook and that our outlook affects our breathing.
If I ‘think’ I feel light as I inhale, then my thoughts are also playing a lead role in the process.
Whether we are inhaling or exhaling, we are aware of how relaxed we feel. This facilitates even circulation and distribution of blood and oxygen within the joints, connective tissues, organs and glands.
If we are not feeling relaxed we become aware of this. Without ‘effort’ to change anything, we return awareness to the breath. As you progress and combine your intention, breath exercises and limbering practices, relaxation and vitality are sure to come.
Copyright Matt Gluck 2010
About Matt Gluck:
Matt has just written his second book and DVD series, ‘How To Breathe’. For more information, please visit his website below. Matt Gluck embodied Pranasana Yoga as a way to enjoy and share life with others of like minded heart. Matt is a British Wheel of Yoga and Life Centre qualified teacher and mentor, helping yoga teachers in training. He has been teaching Chinese martial arts, (including Tai Chi and Qi Gong) and Hatha Yoga for twenty three years.
Matt teaches in classes and privately in Hertfordshire and London and runs workshops and retreats every few months. Most of his free time is given to sharing and discovering the yogic way with friends, on a day by day and moment by moment basis.
For more information, please visit his website www.pranasanayoga.com