Breathing plays a crucial role in Yoga and without proper breathing the entire idea of yoga is baseless.
Yoga is an ancient practice that was devised in India. The ancient yogis found a way to dig deep into the human psyche to find and reach an enlightened form of existence. This form of existence was beyond human behaviour, personality, understanding, intellect and attachments. But there was a tedious process to reach this realm of existence. One had to train their body and mind through yogic asanas. The body and mind had different ways of training sharpening and strengthening their potentials. And once they were strengthened they would unite to synchronize and work together in a unique rhythm to mould a path towards that enlightened spiritual existence.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that translates to “the union”. Yoga is the unison of the body and the mind through the element of breath. The reason why breath is so important is that it is the only one element that has the power to unite the powers of the body and the mind. There still are many yoga schools in India that follow the authentic knowledge of yoga without any modern tweaks. Yoga teacher training in India is very popular for obvious reasons. What is a better place to learn yoga than the land of its origin itself? Rishikesh is the yoga hub of the world. Yoga enthusiasts flock in really large numbers to take yoga teacher training in Rishikesh.
Anyway without digressing from the topic… why is breath so important during the practice of yoga?
A yogi measures the span of life by the number of breaths, not by the number of years. -Swami Sivananda.
Breath in Sanskrit is translated to “Prana”, this means the Life Force. Life force, as the name suggests is what provides the energy to a being that brings life to it. If the breath is lost, one is not living, being alive is far from the question, and being lively is even further. So why is breath so essentially important for yoga?
While attending a yoga class you will be constantly reminded to breathe consciously. Why it is so important, is because it allows us to channel the many forms of energies that are within us. Breath is also the way in which we can pass and alternate through different levels of consciousness.
Breath is an aspect that connects us to the present, as one concentrates on their every breath they are living in their present, you forget about the past, the future and are invested in the present. In fact it can be most truly said that breath is the only thing that reminds us about the present. Breathing consciously is a form of meditation in itself.
Breathing consciously allows you to activate the part of your brain that is different and not as active as compared to the medulla oblongata that controls unconscious breathing. When you perform yoga, you are consciously breathing and that activates more parts of the brain.
Controlling of the breath:
Yoga requires a lot of breath control. There are many points during the practice of yoga where one needs to practice slow breathings. Now during slow breathing, the cerebral cortex is activated that tends to the controlling of the breath. The cerebral cortex then sends these inhibitory impulses towards the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that is related to emotions, this relaxes that part of the brain. This is why slowing down of the breath has a very soothing effect on the emotional state of a person.
Working of the cannels of energy within one’s body:
By now we know that the breath controls the body, the emotions and the mind. There are a total number of 72000 channels of energy also called the Nadis, the 3 most important Nadis are the Ida, Pingala and the Susuhmna. The Ida Nadi is known to have the moon energies that calms and cools the body.
The Pingala Nadi is known to have the sun energies that have the heating effects on one’s body.
The Susushma Nadi is the central energy that has a balancing effect in the body. Breathing consciously or unconsciously involves the activation and the flow of those particular energies. That is why the breath is so important to yoga, as it enables smooth flow of energies through these energy channels.