"Prana is not just breath but the energy. And breathing is the process by which you apply that energy to find out how deep that energy penetrates and percolates." ~ Geeta Iyengar
As hatha and tantric yoga practices emerged, from as far back as the 12-15th Century, instead of renouncing the body and life as in the classical path of raja yoga, our senses and the reality of our human experience was embraced and incorporated within the matrix of spiritual development.
Rather than culling desire; need, hunger, sensuality; tantra and hatha yoga puts a sacred container around these aspects of our humanity, and suggests we interpret these felt signals from our life and body as a guide to discern what needs healing.
"The body has to be invaded by intelligence; each part has to become intelligent." ~ BKS Iyengar
The goal of hatha yoga practice is to purify the body of damaging emotions, thoughts, illness, stiffness and psycho-spiritual blockages that prevent the free flow of prana (life force) from roaming the body. When prana roams freely, kundalini, the feminine creative impulse that sits latent in the groin, can rise up and meet shiva, the omnipresent Seer aspect of our self who resides in the third eye.
The hatha yoga tradition etches a beautiful map into our body, Within, we contain earth, water, fire, air, ether, spirit. Within we contain the creativity and passion of the sacred feminine and the stability and serenity of the sacred masculine, who yearn to embrace and balance each other. When limiting beliefs, misperceptions, pain and trauma is healed, vital life force is no longer obscured and the light within radiates out and lifts us up.
"As a fire blazes when the covering of ash over it is scattered by the wind, the divine fire within the body shines in all its majesty when the ashes of desire are scattered by the practice of pranayama." ~ BKS Iyengar
The modern teaching models used in yoga practices are the chakras, wheels of energy with unique qualities and characteristics. Pancha kosha - the five sheaths describing the self as five layers from body to soul. We can fortify, clear and direct prana through the body by practicing pranayama (breath-control), using bija (seed sounds) and mantra (sacred songs, utterances) using mudras (hand and body seals or postures that tap into and direct energy) and bandhas (locks or seals that prevent the 'leaking' of prana).
"Obstacles do not stand in your way in order to stop you. Rather they appear in order to strengthen and hone you and your plans. They are not your enemy. They are your secret ally, but only if you treat them as friendly forces of nature." ~ Anodea Judith
When we connect our yoga practice to prana, the asanas become a vehicle through which we can experience pure vibration of life force. The experience of yoga can then transition to a process of removing stagnancy, flooding the body with life force and using that power according the yamas and niyamas to live as the most full and whole expression of our selves. Let life become a playful humbling invitation to get out of your own way!
"Make the space, and the universe will fill it." ~ Leslie Kaminoff