"By learning to appreciate breath, we learn to appreciate life itself. The gift of breath is the gift of life. When we receive a gift, we feel gratitude. Through pranayama we learn gratitude for life and gratitude toward the unknown divine source of life." -Iyengar Light on Life
Prana is energy/life force. Pranayama is all about cultivating that energy in you. We often connect that to the breath. Our breath is what makes us alive. It circulates everything within our body. Our energy, blood, body fluids and oxygen. It moves everything around to keep us alive and it gives us the simple rhythm of life within us. It is unconscious and intelligent. But we can make breathing a conscious act. Like when we just simply breath deeply and elongate our exhales. Or when we do our Ujaii breath. This is how we begin to practice pranayama.
Think about your yoga practice and how you move through each pose with your Ujayii breath. When you inhale your right foot forward between the hands, how the breath helps you move. Every movement becomes conscious and deliberate. It becomes meditative. Think about what your breath is like when faced with frustration or anxiety. Its tense and short.
Now take a deep breath in drawing it down your back and deep into the kidneys. And take a long, slow exhale returning the breathe back to the universe. Inhale again, fill yourself up with the energy around us. Hold it here at the top of your head and allow it to bathe your insides for a moment. Count to 5.Exhale give it back and empty out. Hold here again for 5 and feel the neutrality and stillness in your body. And inhale deep again receiving the gift of life...exhale let it go.
Now think about how only a few cycles of deep breathing can make you feel. Slowing everything down. Calming your spirit, slowing the heart..feeling all the cells in your body oxygenated and activated. Everything is calm yet aware. Think about what this could do for your body if every breath was deep and long verses what those anxious tense short breaths do. This is just one of the many tools our Yoga practice gives us to use in life. When faced with frustration...we can simply breath. It may not solve the problem...but it will make things easier to sit with. And that is the purpose of "practice".
Breath and feel good!