In Sanskrit, prana means “life force” and yama means control. Similar to meditation, breathwork (or Pranayama) is a tool for controlling our breath, tending to our bodies and cleaning house.
“We come into this life with a breath, and we leave with a breath. Breath enlivens the intelligence of our life force.”
— Sara Gallagher Bloom
In my classes, Pranayama is more than just breathing: it’s a journey, full of metaphor and imagination. When we pay attention to our breath, we are learning how to return to, and stay in, the present moment.
Spring emerges and rises like sprouts from the ground!
A peak in the year, it’s the blossoming of our buds.
The leaves fall from the trees and our bounty is harvested
The stillness of winter gives us time to reflect and restore so that we can once again rise with the energy of spring!
While studying with the great Desikachar, I remember he spoke of Pranayama in this way:
“If you only had one pot to cook all of your meals in, for breakfast you make porridge, and don’t wash the pot; for lunch you make rice, and don’t wash the pot; and for dinner you make vegetables in the same pot! Each meal is flavored by the other, and Pranayama is a way of cleaning the pot, to make all the meals more unique!”
During breathwork, you are actively in control of the timing, duration, and frequency of every breath and hold. Think of it as a way of anchoring yourself in the here and now with purpose.
Even just taking time to become aware of our breath can help us start to alter our emotional states. Why not try it for yourself right now? Take note of how it makes you feel before, during, and after.
Nurturing both the mind and body, breathwork is an essential tool on your path to living a fuller, more authentic life.