In this second article in the Why Breath series, I feel that prana must be looked at. Understanding this underlying structure may create & stir impetus towards making changes on how we employ breath in our own lives.
Simply put, prana is the life force embedded in the ether. Prana is defined in the Vedas as animating
Is is known by the Chinese as chi, an energy present in all things.
As such it can be expressed as energy, certainly generating a field which can spill out & surround the physical body. That of course is another discussion.
However we should note here one very important aspect of prana.
As one brings one’s attention or awareness to the breath, this activates the prana & increases the pranic activity within the physical form. This breath then is considered to be pranic breath.
Nurturing on a cellular molecular level, this pranic breath increases the vitality of your physical form bringing you in touch with the more subtle aspects of your being.
To be vital of course is to be alive, but many of us are barely alive if we use the breath as a measuring stick.
Shallow breathing, mouth breathing, inattention to & lack of direct awareness of the breath ultimately results in a less than optimal state of being.
This in turn greatly reduces your overall experience; physical, emotional & spiritual.
ETHER or AETHER
Some understanding here of what ether actually is may be helpful.
Ether is one of the 5 elements that are foundational to the structure of our universe. These elements & the teachings surrounding them are described in the Ayurvedic teachings as well as other ancient texts.
The elements are ether, (space), air, fire, water, earth. Ether as space is considered to be the most subtle of the five.
Prana then resides in the ether & is drawn into the physical body via the breath. It literally rides in on the breath.
Pranayama is often mistakenly referred to as breathing techniques or breath work by Yoga practitioners.
In reality, pranayama is the control of the prana using the vehicle of the breath.
A subtle difference perhaps but it is present, none the less. There are a lot of subtleties in breath & Yoga.
As one gradually sheds the gross outer, moving inwards towards a more refined, attuned level, discernment of these differences can be apprehended.
So just to recap, as one brings one’s attention to the breath, one is activating the breath. Breath becomes pranic or alive.