Yoga beyond poses consists of your breath
Most of us know yoga through the postures. Perhaps we have even heard the Sanskrit word “prana” mentioned in class, though this is the exception to the rule. Traditionally speaking, the pranic-force is fundamental to yoga practice (including the postures) and is as essential as sunlight is to a plant.
The word itself is commonly translated as “vital-force” or even “the breath”. Prana is a much larger idea than that. A more literal translation of the word means “the first breath”. It is the first, primal, all pervading, energizing force of the creation. The sun is imbued with prana, the plants and animals possess prana, the air is rich in prana.
The ancient yogis readily perceived this pranic energy and found ways to maximize its influence on our physical health, mental clarity and spiritual development. Many of the techniques that are commonly used today, such as asana, pranayama and even meditation are build around pranic principles (whether we actively recognize it or not).
The very name sake of hatha yoga, the system of yoga that is the genesis of many modern poses, is in reference to the prana and its relationship to the mind. Through specific breathing techniques or prana-yama, we can affect specific states of mind; states of mind that are more conducive to deeper states of peace, joy and fulfillment. Yoga practice uses the pranic force to affect powerful changes in our physical health and psyche.
We can also apply the principles of prana to our asana practice by simple becoming more deliberate about our breathing. Take time in your poses to recognize the quality of your breath, to make it smooth and purposeful. The quality of your breath will powerfully shape the quality of your practice.
The more attentive you are to the quality of your breathing during asana practice the more powerful the effect will be. By listening to the quality of our breathing we will know if we are applying ourself too much or not enough. Classically speaking, the postures are thought to be an instrument to access the formulation of the breath, rather than being an end unto themselves. Aim to have minimal hitches or rough spots in the breath.
I invite you to integrate these principles into your next asana, pranayama or meditation session. Become more and more aware of the subtle power and influence of the pranic force within all of these practices. Or better yet, learn about how to more skillfully apply pranic power to your poses this weekend at Axis’ monthly workshop!
Yours in the Spirit, Tradition and Service of Yoga,
Yoga & Prana Class March 19th
Perhaps we have heard the word “prana” mentioned in a yoga class in reference to the breath, but it is much more than that. What does it mean? How does it relate to yoga and how can it add exponential depth to one’s practice? Come find out the answer to these questions and more as we learn about this essential and often overlooked dimension of yoga practice.
Sunday, March 19th. 9:30-11:30
3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC ~ Upstairs
Suggested Donation ($15-20)