Prana is often simplified to describe breath, the oxygen flowing in and out. Yes, each inhale and exhale represents the flow of prana, but it is much more than that. Prana is the life force, the energy within us that keeps us going. Prana is believed to be the sum of all other energies, and it flows within every living creature. Pranayama is the practice of moving this energy throughout your body. The practice allows us to engage in the present moment. Even if you think of prana simply as your breath, you can practice on a daily basis to bring more awareness to your body, your breath, your thoughts, and your Self.
To sit and listen to your breath is very challenging although it may seem like an easy feat. Thoughts try to distract you and you may be carried away from the inhales and exhales. That is ok. Allow the breath to remind you where you are: the present. And then you can let go of the past a little easier.
Engaging in our breath, rather than being a passive bystander, will engage you in your life. You will be here, ready to make a decision. Ready to say yes, to be open to a new opportunity. You can begin with deep breathing, or what we can call yogic breaths. As you bring awareness to your breath, elongate the inhales and exhales, see where the breath can reach, and bring prana to your whole Self; body, heart and mind. Inhale three-dimensionally, expanding your diaphragm in all directions. And as you exhale, letting all of the air out of your body, see if you can maintain the expansion. You can close your eyes with this practice so that all of your attention and focus is on your breath.
There are many different pranayama practices that you can include with your yoga practice. One of my favorites is called breath of fire, or Agni Pran. It really allows the prana to heat up, stirring it within and creating an awake mind. I encourage you to try some pranayama practices and incorporate more breath work and breath awareness on and off of your yoga mat.
In the following podcast class I include breath of fire within the asana practice. It is an hour long hatha yoga class. Enjoy!
Breathe. Listen. Be You.