Thursday, June 23, 2011

why breath wins


"There is an old Vedic story about prana that occurs in various Upanishads. The five main faculties of our nature - the mind, breath (prana), speech, ear and eye -were arguing with each other as to which was the nest and most important. This reflects the ordinary human condition in which our faculties are not integrated but fight with each other, competing for their rule over attention. To resolve this dispute they decided that each would leave the body and see whose absence was most missed.

First speech left the body, but the body continued though mute. Next the eye left, but the body continued though blind. Next the ear left, but the body continued though deaf. Then the mind left, but the body continued though unconscious.

Finally the prana (breath) began to leave and the body began to die and all the other faculties began to lose their energy. So they all rushed to prana and told it to stay, lauding its supremacy." ~ David Frawley

Clearly, breath is the winner here.

Ive been working one on one with my Ayurveda teacher for almost six weeks now. When I was in CA for my Ayurveda intensive I discovered some things that concerned me. I knew that the first thing I was going to do upon getting back home was schedule a consult with my teacher. And I did.

Together we've been working on my wellness plan (which is a total body, mind, spirit wellness plan) over the last six weeks. At some point I'll share more about this particular journey, but for now I'm doing the work and keeping it close to myself.

The most recent thing that we did add into my plan is carving out specific time to do pranayama (which is breathwork + expansion of juicy life force in general). I have such love for the breath (which is good since without it we are dead) and the breath is crucial in vinyasa yoga. The breath in the vinyasa is what makes it a magical and transformative practice.

But other than ujjayi (victorious breath) in the vinyasa practice, I get pretty lazy with pranayama. An occasional alternate nostril breath (nadi shodhana) when I'm stressed or an occasional kapalabhati when I'm feeling low in energy. Nothing set it stone, no formal practice for an extended amount of time.

So I'm in the process of changing this now. Using the breath as a tool to enhance the quality of my life. Exploring breath both as a tool to increase fire and soothe my nervous system. Like I said, it's pretty new. It's certainly not a habit. But I'm exploring it now and will see how it evolves and helps with the things I'm dealing with.

As a side note here, I think we need to pick and choose the tools that we use at any given time, otherwise it can get overwhelming. This is one of the ways in which I'm seeing such value in Ayurveda. It's knowing which tools to use, why to use them and and when to use.

Because there are a ton of tools. Some more important and better used at different times.

So yes, this is part of what I'm really loving these days. Looking at the big picture of my life - where I am and where I want to be - then looking at the tools of yoga and Ayurveda individually and seeing which are most needed for where I am in order to help me grow to where I want to be. Without being too obsessive and attached to the outcome (a challenge for me).

Never a dull moment friends. ;)

Thoughts? I'd love to hear....

1 comment:

Mia said...

Thanks for this, Sharon! I find that when I am under stress, I REALLY feel it in my breath. Sometimes to the extent that I really do not breathe properly and as a result my heart races. Not good. This post is a reminder for me. Every now and then I do try to do nadi shodhana (like while driving or waiting at a traffic light - and yes it must look funny to an outsider!)
PS: On what you wrote "without being too obsessive and attached to the outcome (a challenge for me)" - I can SO relate to this!