Pranayama & The Art Of Breathing

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Transcript of Pranayama & The Art Of Breathing

  • Pranayama&TheArtOfBreathing WrittenbyChristineBreese,D.D.,Ph.D. Introduction TheSanskritwordpranayama(alsoknownaspranayam)istranslatedasthescienceofbreathinsome circles,andinothersithasabroadermeaning,expansion,manifestationofenergy.Pra(firstunit)na(energy) is the vital and primal energy of the universe. According to some Eastern Indian writings, the universe comes from akasha (ether, space) through the energy of prana. Akasha is the infinite, raw material of the universe. Prana is the infinite, raw energy of the universe. One who has learned how to control prana controls all the energiesoftheuniverse,thuscontrollinghisorherbody,emotionsandmind. Even though prana is a term loosely used to cover all energies, ancient manuals of yoga speak of ten pranas, five major and five minor ones. The five major pranas are udana, prana, samana, apana, and vyana. Udana rules the upper part of the body from the larynx up, and governsuseofspecialsensesbeyondthefive senses. Prana rules between the larynx and the heart, governing speech, breath and the respiratory system. Samana rules between the heart and the navel, governing all metabolic activity in the act of digestion. Apana rulesbelowthenavelandgovernsthekidneys,colon,rectumbladderandgenitals.Vyanapermeatestheentire bodyandgovernsrelaxationandcontractionofallmuscles,voluntaryorinvoluntary.Italsogovernsthejoints andtheirmovements.Bycontrollingtheprana(breath)onecanaccessandinfluencealltheotherpranas,which explainstheuniversalusageofthiswordforrepresentingallthepranas. Energyandmatterbearanimportantconnectionwitheachother.Theyareoneandthesame,really.If matterisdispersed,energyistheresult.Ifenergyiscondensedandharnessed,matteristheresult.Ittakesalotof energytomakeonlyalittlebitofmatter.Ittakesonlyalittlebitofmattertomakealotofenergy.Onequarter poundofmatterwouldbetheequivalentof200Hbombsgoingoff,about200timesthepowerofthebombthat destroyedHiroshima.Obviously,scientistsareinterestedinlearninghowtoconvertmatterandenergybackand forth,butasaspecies,wearefarfromutilizingthesephysicallaws,especiallyinabenevolentway. Breath is an energizing force concerning the matter in our bodies. Energy is referred to as prana in Sanskrit terms. Breath is our first and foremost energy, carrying over to all the other bodies after reaching the physicalbody.Eventhephysicalbodycomesafterenergy,notbefore.Wetalkaboutmentalenergy,emotional energy, physical energy, spiritual energyall of these are types of prana. If one wants to alter any of these structures, one would do so through prana. Prana is the vital link between all of these structures. In ancient Eastern Indian scripture, five prana are described, each having its separate function. The pranic sheath has a complex anatomy. In it are pathways called nadis. Through them, breath flows and is converted to the energy formsthatareneededbythedifferentbodiesofthehuman,notjustthephysicalbody. Inthebody,energyisconstantlybeingconsumed,producedandexerted.Itisbeingshiftedfrompointto point,creatinganenergyflow.Differentkindsofbreathingcreatedifferenttypesofenergyflow.Fastbreathing createsshorterwavesofenergy,burstsofenergy,andslowbreathingcreateslongerwavesofenergy,steadyslow frequenciesofenergy.Differenttypesofenergyflowcreatedifferentresultsandstatesofmind. Everyone develops habitual ways of breathing or moving energy, and there are differences from one bodytothenextastoitshealthandvitality.Iftheenergyflowischanged,thebodywillchange.Forinstance,ifa person learns to breath differently, less shallowly, the body will change for the better. If a persons breathing becomeslessopen,thebodywillchangefortheworse.Ashockorinjurycanalsochangeapersonsbreathing andenergyflows,anditmayresultinachangeofpostureorotherfactorsthataffectenergyflow.Ifthebodyis undernourished,concerningenergy,itwillbecomesick Thereismuchspeculationastohowonemightaffectdifferenttypesofenergyflowthroughthebreath, and thus attain different results in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual states. One who sits down and purposely alters his or her breathing patterns will gradually see changes in the way his or her body, emotions andmindfunction.Someanimalsareabletoregeneratebodyparts,andthisismostlikelybecausethereissome sortofpersistenceintheenergyflow,causingmattertomanifest.Peoplewhohavehadlimbsamputatedalways reportstillfeelingthelimb,anditmayevenbepainful.Thisisalsobecausethereisstillanenergyflowthere,the energy that precedes the manifestation of the physical body. The physical body is nothing more than a crystallizationofenergypatternsthatunderlieit.ItisseeninKirlianphotographythatifaleafistorninhalf,the Pranayama&TheArtOfBreathing2005UniversityOfMetaphysicalSciences 1
  • energyofthehalfthatisgoneisstillthere,quiteintact.Itispossiblethatiftheenergyofhumanlimbsthatare missingpersistslongenough,thephysicalmanifestationwouldeventuallyreappear.Someplantsdoregenerate thisway.Thisiswhyplantsseemtogrowbackevenstrongerandfullerwhentheyareprunedback.Theyhavea burstofenergytoreplacethatwhichwaslost.Thereareevenanimalsthatcangrowlimbsback. Thereisonecellintheverybeginningofahumanform.Thatcellthendivides,andcontinuestodivide. But what causes these cells to turn into a skin cell, a muscle cell or a bone cell? What tells them to be a heart instead of a leg? It is the underlying pattern of energy that is the template for the human body. The cells are followingaguide,afieldofforcesaroundwhichtheyshapethemselves.Iftherewasnotemplate,therewouldbe noorganizationofthethesecellsanditwouldjustbethesamekindofcelloverandoveragain,neverturning intosomethingdifferentfromthecellitwasdividedfrom. TheUpanishads,ancientEasternIndiantexts,saythatthepranamayakosha(energybody)iscreatedby evenadeeperlevelofexistencecalledthemanomayakosha(mind).Thementalisevensubtlerthantheenergy (prana),whichitusestocreatephysicalmatter.Inthisera,mostofthemainstreampopulationbelievesthatthe bodycomesfirstandgivesrisetothemind.Mostpeoplebelievethatthefetusorembryohasnomindandthatits personality and mind evolve from the physical body. It is believed that the Earth formed out of mindless material, and life arose from this lifeless soup, eventually emerging into a consciousness like humankind. However,itisactuallytheotherwayaround. EasternthoughthasbeenquiteoppositeofWesternthought,believingthatconsciousnessistheonethat hadtheideaofcreatingmatterinthefirstplace,avehicleinwhichtohaveexperiencesinaphysicalreality.First cameconsciousness,thenthemind,themindbeingthefirstmanifestationcreatedbyconsciousness.Outofthe mind comes the manifestation of physical, material existence. Out of this came the human, animal and plant bodies.Wearebornofsomethingbeyondphysicalexistence,anditistotherethatwereturn.Thisimpliesthat ourexistenceisbornoutofsomethingthatprecedesphysicalreality,andthisisadisconcertingthoughttothe Westernwayofthinking.Outofthenothingness,mindandphysicalrealityappear,andthenitdisappearsback into that same nothingness after it is experienced. Consciousness expands into manifestation, and then it contractsbackintonothingness,expandsagain,andthenpullsback.Theentireuniverseisnothingmorethana cosmicexhalationandinhalationprocess.Thisprocessofthecomingandgoingofexperiencesisevidentinall things. Humans and animals breathe, and so do plants. We are born into manifestation, and then we die, returning to that which preceded the physical body. The cosmic breath is happening right here inside your humanbodyevenasyoureadthesewords. Pranayama&TheNervousSystem The nervous system contains the central and autonomic nervous system. The central nervous system consists of the brain, twelve pairs of cranial nerves, the spinal cord, and thirtyone pairs of spinal nerves. The cranialandspinalnervesspreadthroughoutthebody.Thesenervessendoutandsendintothebrainpainand motor impulses. Prana flows throughout these pathways. It also flows through all the nadis, or energetic pathways,whichhavebeenstudiedbyancientyogisandcorrelatewithmanyofthemeridianpathsdescribedin literatureaboutacupuncturetechniques. Nadismeanschannelsorvehicles.Sometextsdescribe72,000nadisinthebody,othertextsmentionas manyas350,000ofthem,butfourteenareconsideredimportant,andonlysixofthemarethemostimportantof all.Theyarecalledtheida,pingala,sushumna,brahmani,chitrana,andthevijnana.Amongthesesix,threeare even more important than any others. These are centered on the spinal cord, wrapping upward.We learned abouttheseintheUMSChakras&Aurascoursewhileexploringkundalini.Herewewilllookathowtheyrelate tothenostrilsandbreathing. Pingala (surya) flows through the right nostril. Ida (chandra) flows through the left nostril. Both criss crossbackandforthacrossthespine.Sushumnaisthecentralpathwaymovingstraightdownthemiddleofthe spine and is the moment when both nostrils are open and operating equally. The meditative expansion of that momentiscalledsandhya,astateinwhichthemeditatorcannotbedisturbedbysounds,thoughts,oranyother disturbancefromwithinorwithout.Itisamagicmomentormagiczone.Allthreeofthesenadisbegininthe baseofthespine,intherootchakra,ormudladhara. When the ida and pingala crisscross back and forth across the spine, intersecting with the sushumna, theseintersectionsarethechakras.Fiveofthemareonthespineandtheuppermosttwoareinthehead.Theones Pranayama&TheArtOfBreathing2005UniversityOfMetaphysicalSciences 2
  • in the head do not have the crisscross action from the nadis. The ones on the spine do. The ida, pingala, and sushumnaarethethreemainnadis,butmultitudesofothernadisradiateoutfromthechakrasaswell. Scientistshaveattemptedtocomparethenadistowhatweknowaboutmodernanatomy,buttheydonot correlateasexactlyasscientistswouldlike.Eventhoughnadisbearaterrificresemblancetothenervoussystem, theycannotbedetectedthroughdissection.Theyarepartoftheenergybody,whichsupportsthephysicalbody. Thephysicalbodyisbuiltaroundtheenergysystemofthen