This first appeared in the Inner Traveler and now is
being posted by request. Enjoy!
Breathe In Breathe Out
Every day, we all have so many things to remember.
But there's only one thing really worth remembering
to breathe. Just imagine what would happen if we
didn't. Actually, most of the time, we don't. We breathe
by habit, incorrectly. Concentration on the breath
is the fastest, most time-economic way to become
relaxed. Follow the breath on its journey through
the folds and turns of the inner body. Feel the indulgent
comfort as you inhale. Feel the peace of release as
you exhale. Inhale peace, harmony, love, compassion,
and joy. Exhale fear, anger, negativity, hatred and
sorrow. Think of the breath as a wave on the ocean.
As the waves roll in they bring you peace and as they
roll out, they take all of your problems with them.
Prana is the vital life force or energy that flows
through our physical body. Learning to breathe properly
through various exercises is called Pranayama. This
ancient practice is considered the link between our
physical and astral (or spiritual) body. When we remain
conscious of our breathing patterns, we are able to
maintain a balance. A natural calm falls over us. As has
been said, "When the breath is calm, the mind is still."
Sitting or lying in a position that's natural and
comfortable to you, place your hand lightly over your
abdomen. Inhale slowly and deeply. Follow with your
minds' eye the flow of air and pull it deeply down into
the base of the spine. Notice your abdomen slightly
filling and puffing out. Allow the pure oxygen to
saturate your internal self. As you retain the Prana,
imagine every cell in the bloodstream filling with
cleansing, healing oxygen and each muscle relaxing as
they are drenched with air. Then slowly release the
breath, exhaling completely until every drop of air
has left the body. Pause for a moment, experiencing
the sensation of being truly "breathless." Notice your
abdomen is now empty and slightly concave.
Practice Pranayama often; before, during and after
meditation and Hatha yoga sessions. Witness your
breathing pattern when you are frightened or nervous.
Notice that you are probably taking quick, short, and
shallow breaths, which of course diminish the oxygen
flowing to your brain, further worsening the situation.
By concentrating, even if just for a moment, we can
bring our awareness back to our inner self and the
breath will quiet. In addition to the benefit of clearing
our mind in times of trouble, every organ also receives
the proper internal massage.
There are seven chakras or energy centers in the body,
located along the spine. They dwell at the base of the
spine; the genital area; the navel or solar plexus; the
heart center; the base of the throat; the third eye;
and the highest at the crown of the head, represented
by 1,000 lotus petals. As we become more adept at Pranayama,
we try to visualize the vibrations emanating from each
chakra, meditating completely on each one.
The breath is essential to the practice of Hatha yoga.
As a rule of thumb, we always use the breath to move in
and out of a posture and often retain the breath inside
(or outside) of the body during retention of the pose.
Any backward bending movement should be done while
inhaling. Any forward bending movement should be done
The essence of life is breath. Without it, we are known
as a corpse. Learn it, practice it, use it, love it.
Shanti Shanti Om