Many people think of pranayama as just breathing exercises. But actually, it is a lot more than that. The true definition of pranayama means to balance and gain control over the pranic body. Prana is manifested in living beings as breath, but Prana itself is not breath. It is the life force. It is the energy that runs through the whole earth, giving life. It is always moving, always dancing. This is the cycle of life and death. Even in your body right now Prana is moving in and out of your cells as old ones die and new ones are born.
Why should we gain influence over Prana? Because as Prana gets stuck in the body, it manifests as pain, stiffness or disease. In the mind, it can cause imbalances which can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. People with depression can use pranayama to activate the mind; people with anxiety can use it to calm the mind. Any imbalance in the emotions, body or mind can be addressed with pranayama, and such it becomes one of the greatest forms of self-healing. Beyond healing the practice will center your being, and connect you with your breath to give you the tools to handle any situation. With the practice, you will notice a great shift in your asana (physical yoga) practice, your meditation practice and in your life.
Pranayama is the fourth limb of yoga after the yams and niyams (yoga’s moral foundation) and Hatha, yoga for the physical body. So if you have been practicing Hatha and you feel it is time to take your practice deeper, Pranayama would be the next step. In yoga, there is a concept of layers, or koshas, of the being, and each limb of yoga strengthens and balances one of the koshas. The first kosha is the physical body, with Hatha yoga. The second is the Prana body. So though most of the world is only practicing Hatha, the truth is the asanas are only the beginning of the journey of yoga. So if you’re ready to take your journey further, or if you’re just curious about the other layers, come and learn with us!