Pranayama and the Breath of Life
Pranayama, meaning controlled breath, is the fourth limb of Ashtanga. Breath is the foundation of life. We use breath to determine whether or not someone is alive or dead. The inhale and exhale of the breath is a powerful method used to calm the mind and body.
Our breath is a powerful force that trains our bodies to move with grace. Most yoga styles are breath-based meaning the movements of the body are matched to either an inhale or an exhale. One of my yoga mentors says that when you can breathe through the transitions of poses, you can breathe through the transitions of life. But what is this infinite breath that gives us the ability to live out the ups and downs?
Breath presents its importance in the essential moments of scripture. In the Old Testament, God breathed into Adam to create his being. In Ezekiel, God breathes on the valley of dry bones and they come to life. During Good Friday, Jesus is noted to breathe his last on the cross. On Pentecost Sunday, Jesus breathes on the disciples so that they may receive the Holy Spirit and do God’s work in the world.
One of the beautiful titles we call Jesus is the “Breath of Life.” Jesus, as part of the trinity, is our source of existence. The word pranayama includes the word prana meaning in Sanskrit “vital life force.” Prana is said to be the energy that is in every living being of the universe. Jesus is our life force. He is the one who has given us life through his resurrection. He has given life to our souls so that we may live in perfect communion with God. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit, the spirit that guides our lives everyday.
Jesus is our infinite breath that dwells in us so that we may experience life to the fullest.
Peace and Namaste,