Hatha Yoga is a science that aims to gain mastery over the instruments of body and mind, use them to transcend the small ego-bound self, restore contact with the limitless source of all creation, and realize our divine nature. From this ancient, multifaceted system, Yoga therapy is a modern-day branch that uses a wide selection of practices to holistically re-balance and reintegrate body, mind, and spirit.
From a Yogic and Ayurvedic perspective, the disease is multidimensional and frequently stems from a hidden root cause. Treating only physical symptoms tackles surface appearances but invariably ignores the illness’s deeper source. For a remedy to be lasting, health therapies ideally consider an individual’s past and present at the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual levels. Yoga therapy is not a short-term, organ-specific treatment, but science that works over the long-term to strengthen every aspect of life.
Three fundamental principles of Yoga therapy (that are all interrelated and can be approached in any order) include:
- Relax the body
- Slow down the breath
- Calm the mind (and reintegrate it with the body and spirit)
In another post, we considered how to relax the body. This post contemplates the importance of breath, and in particular, breathing to bring in and circulate the life-force prana.
Slow Down the Breath and Bring in Prana
These days when we talk about the breath we think about breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. But in Yoga, each breath moves a much more subtle, powerful, a primordial substance is known as prana—the conscious, active, creative light principle that animates all life.
Yoga and Ayurveda consider that most physical disorders are the result of the weak, blocked, or wrong flow of life-force prana, along with imbalance of the mind. And as a healing agent, rather than oxygen (or pills or surgery), cosmic prana (along with mental fortitude) is a true health-giving source. A method of healing is effective insofar as it is capable of inspiring the life-force prana in and around a diseased body.
Prana enters the body through many avenues, including the foods and fluids we consume, sunlight, and conscious intention. Another primary channel through which prana can enter our system is through the breath.
Healing Practices using Prana, Breath, and Mind
Following are some yogic practices to consciously bring a life-force prana into your system, using this cosmic energy to cleanse, open and invigorate the natural flow of the body’s inner circuits.
Deep Slow Breathing
From a Yogic perspective, full, gentle respiration brings in fresh prana; reduces mental and muscular tensions; supports inner clarity, joy, and concentration; acts as a channel for love and compassion, and internally aligns us with planetary and cosmic rhythms.
- Go to Soul’s Youtube channel to learn about deep abdominal breathing, known as “belly breathing”, a simple breathing technique to deepen and slow the breath and cleanse and vitalise the physical and subtle body.
- Here is another breathing practice you can use to send vitalizing, strengthening, healing power to the entire body, or a weak bodily part:
Lie on your back or sit in a comfortable posture, with the spine straight. Exhale fully. Then inhale slowly and deeply and visualize the air permeating the heart center and being converted into powerful loving, healing energy. Then, with a slow exhale use the breath, willpower, and imagination to direct the warm, glowing, vital force from the heart to expand and diffuse throughout the entire body, or to infuse a diseased body part. Feel and/or imagine the energies healing any disease. Hold your attention on vitalizing, strengthening, healing for a few more slow deep breaths. You can repeat this process 3 to 6 times in a row. The entire practice can be repeated 1, 2, or 3 times daily.
Other Yogic Practices
- Become consciously aware of your breathing cycle, moment-by-moment, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour. Whenever it occurs to you, gently keep the mind focused on the natural breath.
- When using imagination to visualise the flow of prana, you can see it as a brilliant healing white/green/blue/violet light; a golden halo surrounding the body; or feel that every cell is continually being renewed by this ever-present vital life current.
- Along with the breath, apply affirmations to help restore calm and confidence and strengthen the will. As you breathe in, consciously feel and say “I am breathing in love and light”, as you breathe out consciously feel and say “I am breathing out love and light”. Better still, make up your own affirmation, and repeat what feels meaningful for you.
Choose one or two strategies and practice them daily for 21 days!
Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati; Paramahansa Yoganannda; Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani