As you know by now, pranayama (yogic breathing) is one of the most effective ways to create a link to the mind and body. Yet, pranayama is often over looked by Hatha Yoga practitioners. If you take a superficial view of Yoga: A photo of one’s breath cannot produce the shock value seen in some asana photographs.
Yet, Yoga cannot be summed up in one photo session or one book. Humans often make hasty judgments about subjects. This enables us to quickly sort, classify, and file ideas, in a specific order, so that we may retrieve them easily. The only problem is that we may not have gone beyond the surface layer of our filing system.
It takes years of Yoga practice to get beyond our superficial viewpoints. Yoga teaches us to look at the deeper aspects of life, without harsh judgments. Each limb of Yoga is as significant as the other. When we review the Eight Limbs, as described by Maharishi Patanjali, within the “Yoga Sutras,” we begin to realize the value of each area of study that may be lacking in our personal practice.
If we continue to practice and study Yoga for years, we begin to realize the value of each limb. We also begin to appreciate the subtle differences among Yogic schools and styles. Despite these differences, self-realization is a common objective among many Yogic schools of thought.
How can pranayama help you on the path toward self-realization? Some claim pranayama is boring, while others will tell you it is hard work. In many Hatha Yoga classes, breath awareness is integrated into asana or meditation practice, but it might not be a separate segment of the class. Some fitness Yoga teachers yield to the popularity of asanas and see little worth in pranayama as a separate practice.
With that said – it will take the fitness-oriented student a bit longer to become completely present for practice. Pranayama is a gateway to the state of seeing, knowing, and being, which we call self-realization. In some schools of thought, pranayama is the easiest way to connect mind, body, and spirit.
Here is an example: Sit in a quiet room and notice what you can easily focus on. Is it a sound, an object, an image, or a function? For many, the breath is easy to isolate and focus on. Our perspectives will be different, depending on our training and the amount of time we put into practice.
Each of us is different, but you can put this to the test along or with students. Being truly present for practice is an exercise in self-realization. To bring self-realization into daily life is a way of life.
© Copyright 2009 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
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