Breathe yourself healthy
Last time I introduced the yogic concept of the layers of our being. We started with the physical layer. I’m hoping that since my last blog you have been observing your physical body when you’ve been practicing yoga – how you move, where is it feeling stiff or clunky, what bits move freely and comfortably, where do you need to stretch or strengthen – and generally getting to know yourself, then using this knowledge to help your self.
In this article I’d like to explore the next layer, the pranamaya kosha, the physiology layer. This is the layer we experience as energy, the best way I can describe it, is when we’ve done some yoga, often the energy block release sequences,
Breathing helps us to connect to our pranamaya kosha
and I ask you to focus on the space between your hands. At this point you generally tell me that you can feel tingling or a sensation of form between the hands, others will sense it as resistance, or warmth or intense coldness. This is the energy layer.
Another good way to tap into this kosha is to be aware of any sensations you might feel after we’ve finished a yoga pose or sequence. We pretty much always have some quiet time between practices, I might ask you to observe your breath, how does it feel, how does it move, where is it coming from or going to? This is another great chance to be aware of your pranamaya kosha. I know that it’s tempting to finish one posture and move straight on to the next but in yoga the quiet times between the postures are just as important as the postures themselves, try not to skip this key element of your practice.
You may have noticed that this layer is called the pranamaya kosha, which is very similar sounding to our breathing practices – pranayama. Prana is breath and then some! It is our life force, our vital energy. It will come as no surprise then that one of the best ways of working with this kosha is with our breath. Breathing, however, can be tricky! It brings “stuff” up, this is “stuff” that is causing blockages, preventing us from going deeper and finding the peace within, and it’s for this reason that we would always recommend that you work mindfully, steadily and respectfully with pranayama, 5 minutes a day is plenty. It’s normal to release some tears (tears that just silently fall – big gulping sobs are something different), as you let go of some trapped sadness or grief, it might bring up anger or frustration, whatever gremlins it brings to the surface, try to just let it pass, remembering that this is just energy in motion, it’s not you now. Dru’s unique energy block release sequences are perfect for aiding this process in a controlled way, the reasons why they work are a topic for another blog.
In a typical Dru class we’ll get you activated first (physical layer), then move onto an energy block release sequence (physiological layer) so that you are then ready to move into the deeper layers for the rest of the class, usually concluding with the bliss layer (relaxation or meditation!). It all makes sense doesn’t it? We can also take you through all of these layers though in each and every practice we do, dependent on how open you are to the instructions we give. Clever eh?! 🙂
If we go back then to our Tree pose, that we talked about in the last blog, we can start to deepen the experience. Let us assume that you are now confident and familiar with the physical movements, you know what feels right for you or where you need to do some extra stretching /strengthening etc. You are able now to let go of involving the brain so much in how you are moving. Let your focus be the breath. Focus on coordinating the breath with the movements. How is easy is this to do? How does this breath feel, how does it flow, where do you feel it, what sensations does this bring? At the end of the posture be still, ask yourself the same questions. Do this with all your yoga if you are comfortable to do so. Again, make a note in your yoga journal of whatever you observe. Notice also, any changes outside your yoga practice.
If you get really comfortable with this, notice where you feel any restrictions, pain or tightness within your body. Take your mind and all it’s thoughts to this place and breathe into it. Allow the breath to soothe, to soften, to expand, to release, whatever you need. Watch, observe. There may be a change in how you feel, possibly following an emotional release.
It is in bringing awareness to this layer of our being that we can start to tap into how we really are and what we truly want. This is a layer where great healing can take place. In my experience working with the pranamaya kosha can bring about profound change within a person, bringing peace where there was distress, harmony where there was dis-harmony and ease where there was dis-ease.
I really hope you give this a try, and enjoy the focus. Let me know how you get on or if you have any questions. Ix