The Breath

By Darlene Ralicki

In yoga, the breath can be referred to as “prana”, which is translated as “life force” or “vital energy”. The breath is a key element of prana – the breath we breathe moves the life force within us. That movement is known as the “vayus” (winds). With each breath we take, the flow of energy can be moved in five ways.
• Prana Vayu – rising, upward flow
• Apana Vayu – downward, rooting flow
• Samana Vayu – inward, contracting flow
• Vyana Vayu – expanding omni-directionally
• Udana Vayu – rises and moves outward

As you reflect on your asana (physical postures) practice, you may realize you were moving this flow of energy with your breath and movements. For example, the upward energy of prana vayu is evident when standing in Tadasana (mountain pose) and lifting arms to the sky. The downward rooting flow of apana vayu can be experienced when transitioning to Utkatasana (chair pose) by bending knees and grounding through the four corners of the feet.

Another aspect of the breath in our yoga practice is one of the eight limbs of yoga: pranayama (conscious awareness of breath, control of the breath). From the simple focus of inhaling and exhaling to specific breathing techniques like Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing), pranayama is an important component to the practice of yoga. Enjoy your sweet breath, your prana, your life force.

© 2019 Darlene Ralicki, E-RYT200®, YACEP®

The Breath