Thinking back… How were my energy levels this morning?
You wake. The day begins. Your mind runs over the day and all that is required of you. Sigh. Deep Sigh. Without even realizing it, and within five minutes of waking, already your body is speaking to you, asking of you to stop, to acknowledge the lack of energy forces within, and to breathe. Albeit, perhaps not the breath you are accustomed to: as breathing your way to good health isn’t just a “deep breath” of fresh air…
Let me ask you to take a moment to notice the breath. How are you breathing as we speak? Mouth breathing? Nose breathing? Just Notice, and continue to notice as we continue to talk.
Is my body in a state of stress?
Quite often in our current culture of demand our bodies live in a state of continued stress. Our bodies and minds, without us even knowing it, are often swinging between states of chaos and rigidity, placing extraordinary demands on the sympathetic nervous system (the fight/flight system). The result is a manner of breathing that fosters a lack of energy and a system primed for disconnection and dis-ease, rather than holistic wellbeing.
Though we may live amidst suffering, according to the commentaries of the Yoga-Sutra, specifically the second chapter: Sadhana-Pada, the Eight-Fold Path of practice counters obstacles such as chaos and rigidity. The Sadhana-Pada also reminds us that the main cause of these obstacles along the spiritual path is often a lack of insight.
This lack of insight is also pertinent in today’s scientific wellness model. Indeed, many modern remedies for both mental and physiological dis-ease now draw upon practices similar to the Eight-Fold Path of Yoga. One such similarity on the path is the breath: Pranayama.
Prana = Energy
Ayama = Extend
We are karmically born with a unique bank of energy; we can either choose to squander it or maintain it. Ayurveda (the science of life) promotes that with correct practice we can access our inner most being, thus providing insight to extending our Prana and improving our karma. It is well known within yogic science that pranayama is practiced to extend life and our bank of Prana.
So too, modern science, Ayurveda, and the Yoga-Sutra’s align to the notion that the breath allows us access to our inner most being. With practice and refinement, our breath has the power to delve into our sub-consciousness bringing to awareness the resistance within. As our breath is the manipulator of energy flow, it has the power to cultivate qualities of calmness, peace, lightness, comfort as well as attentiveness. This brings simplicity to complexities, and connects our bodies and minds, allowing ultimately for integrated wellbeing and the space within for energy to flow.
Tell me more about Practicing Pranayama…
Pranayama practice helps us to discover the subtle and more discrete energies within our minds and bodies and offers us the ability to make the very finest attunements. The aim of breath practice is to let consciousness flow without judgment. Our minds may wander, yet when we focus directly on a practice of slow and steady inhalation and exhalation, our breath fluctuations stop; this ceases the duality of body and mind, and integrates thought, emotion, and our physiological being. We become singular and readied for cultivating the other aspects on the eight-fold path.
Scientifically, Pranayama practice extends energy by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation response), which counters the sympathetic nervous system (the fight/flight response). Though a habitual relaxed state we are nurturing our holistic being back to a “self-organising emergent process that regulates energy…” (Siegel, 2017).
I wonder, when noticing your breath as you were reading, were you aware of nose breathing against mouth breathing? Deep breaths against short breaths? Light? Noisy? Each of these elements are important to notice, should you wish to enhance wellbeing – particularly if you are a habitual mouth breather. Tomorrow we will post “A Breath of Fresh Air: Which Way and Why?” to look at Pranayama practice in relation to mouth breathing. In the mean time, remember to sign up to my newsletter!
If you are feeling in need of more energy, or if you are looking for an approach to wellness where your distinct inherent balance of energies are considered, we offer both classes and day retreats in Brookfield, Qld.