Pranayama is a sophisticated art or, if you prefer, science, composed from exact, disciplined and verified techniques. Through this practice, it is possible for the practitioner to perform “subtle” changes.
In Yoga, through the practice of the asanas (physical postures), the obstacles to the flow of the prana are removed and the practice of pranayama regulates the same flow through the organism. In this way, prana acquires a predominance over the mechanical desires, helping the practitioner to regulate all his thoughts, stilling the mind and producing balance and will which are necessary elements in order to have more control of his life.
Pranayama, Taoist and other breathing exercises from different traditions, are the gateways to different states of consciousness, and these states are so intense and extraordinary that they could fill the existential emptiness that many people experience during their lifetime, bringing them to depression, anxiety, use of drugs and alcoholic drinks.
But, because a conscious breath (practiced in a “forced” and contolled way with specific techniques) could produce different states of consciousness and to deep changes in the energetic structure, it is absolutely inadvisable to experience this practice without the supervision of a competent teacher.
The practice of breathing methods belonging to Buddhist, yoga or Taoist traditions must be performed with prudence and for a time that is not too long in duration. A breath exercise that lasts over fifteen minutes without specific individual indications from a competent person or, worse, learned from a book or a DVD, could produce emotional, mental and physical dysfunctions.
Our bodies are provided with specific “switchboards” that possess a greath energetic potential, and of specific “channels” through which the vital energy moves. Both of these fields are inactive parts connected to determined functions toward a possible conscious development, and the main part of this power kept in these fields is inactive for the whole period of our life.
The seven functions and the respective centers that have been described in previous posts on this blog page, in addition to a complex net of subtle substances, are a reservoir of unlimited potential of which humans ordinarily know nothing , and the art of breath aims to awaken it. It’s a process that has to be done step- by- step and, risking to become boring because of constant repetition, under the supervision of a competent teacher. We’ll never stop repeating this.
What we could call an “energetic body” is represented from the whole of the “immaterial” part of a human being, and includes centers and functions which is connected to the individual being and the physical body through an intermediate “substance” that possesses a higher density than the subtle bodies, but it’s less dense than the physical. This field is called the “energetic body” because it is the mean of the vital energy (prana).
This structure is filled with a huge number of subtle (nonmaterial) channels that could be compared to what in the physical body are the blood and lymphatic endings.
The Yoga tradition states that there are 72.000 subtle channels that, in Sanscrit, are called nadi. Their capacity of transmitting and carrying vital energy differs depending on the functions for which they are designed. Such as the veins, capillaries, arteries and nerve endings, the nadis also present different dimensions and potentials.
But, there is something that has to be clarified: describing the nadis strictly as a series of “channels” could easily induce misunderstandings. Indeed, we do not have to imagine them as containers of something, but rather as conductors that allow the flowing of quantities and qualities of energy that are proportional to their functions.
We have seen in most of the previous posts, that the consciousness and the degree of awareness of ordinary men results far below of what they could achieve through a proper inner education; in the same way, the condition of the energetic body implies a relatively low potential than what it could express through a proper practice. Indeed, the energy flow is active at the minimal degrees, the subtle channels present several anomalies, “breakdowns” and a globally reduced voltage.
A situation to ponder on.