Breath Happens

by Maria Miguel Ribeiro

Insights from the Breath & Prana Intensive Seminar, 2nd - 8th November 2014 at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama with Marilou Hermens, Pierre Lefebvre, David Frawley, Swami Ritavan Bharati, Pravin Kumar and SRSG Staff.

Someone said during this breath and prana intensive seminar: The dilemma of teaching and learning about proper breathing is that everyone breathes, but do we really know how to breathe?

Teaching breathing is a tricky matter because “breath happens”, we do breathe and we have been breathing since birth! However knowing how to do something does not mean we know how to do it in such a way that lengthens our lifespan bringing great health, social and spiritual benefits.

This is why one week seminar at SRSG was such a great opportunity. The seminar did not solve all my breathing “problems”, but by taking the time to analyze and further understand my breathing patterns and routines, while at the same time deepen the knowledge about the breathing exercises recommended by the tradition, I gave a couple of steps towards relearning breathing. The practices taught not only helped me to do an internal cleansing of the respiratory system and energy body, but they also developed a peaceful and alert state of mind that pervaded during the whole seminar.

Central to the work with breath is that mind and prana follow and mirror each other´s patterns. Thus when one is calm, our breath is smooth and even; while when we get emotional, breath becomes jerky and uneven. Mind lives in a dualist mode, and prana too as it is divided in five different vayus or pranas, says David Frawley. Various breathing exercises help us to unblock the prana and to bring the different pranas into unitary prana at the sushumna. As mind follows prana and becomes more concentrated, a state of joy and increased clarity raises.

Why take a week off to intensify your breath practices?

Breath awareness is not only helpful in deepening our meditation but it is key to a healthy life style, to succeed in communicating effectively with others and a great tool to make visible our emotional patterns. Under stressful conditions such as being under the pressure of keeping up with a deadline, I often found myself having shallow and jerky breathing. Although we all in theory know that even, smooth and deep flow of breath is calming and creates joy, let’s be frank, many of us in our daily life, are often not aware of how we breathe! Thus taking a week or two to intensify our practice of breath awareness, creating a routine around a sequence of pranayama practices and settling realistic daily schedule for the breathing practice at home is useful for our physical and mental wellbeing. The seminar balanced wonderfully between times of practice and theory. And even theory was based on practicing breathing or concentration exercises. In addition, we had two asana and meditation sessions per day.

I asked some participants if there was something they were taking home from this seminar. Here are their answers:

For me the best of these lectures is the sharing about the stories of the tradition. When teachers share stories about their own experience or the experience they got from their teachers. (participant from South Korea).

I had no idea that properly applying breath to asana practice would make such a difference in attaining higher concentration levels and be able to better balance the body in the asana. (participant from Canada).

I will take home this type of hatha and pranayama practice. I want to start practicing 45 minutes per day. (participant from India)

I will start practicing these breath exercises 10 min per day. It is realistic! (participant from India)

Through these practices I became aware that I have plenty of accumulated tension in my body. (participant from Austria)

What I liked were the subtle insights about how to practice the breath exercises. We learn things that no book can teach us. Things such as: where can our awareness before, during and after the exercise be and where can we apply visualizations to strengthen the power of the practice. Another important insight I take home is that the same breath technique may be wonderful for one person´s health, while for another person can cause disturbance, so we ought to listen our body´s reaction. (participant from Switzerland)

If your mind is telling you: well …this is all very nice, but once back home I don´t have time for breathing exercises. Please remember: the most important of all exercises is breath awareness and that you can practice everywhere, while taking a shower, brushing your teeth or taking the bus.

Editor’s Notes:

If you missed the Breath & Prana Intensive Seminar this year, there will be Breath & Pranayama Intensive next November at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG).  To inquire about attending: http://ahymsin.org/main/accommodations-inquiry.html

Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) gave 3 lectures at SRSG during this time, and these lectures were recorded.  For purchasing these recordings, please write to AHYMSIN Publishers at [email protected]

The entire seminar was also recorded. For purchasing these recordings, please write to AHYMSIN Publishers at [email protected]



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