In addition to supplying oxygen during the process of respiration, the breath simultaneously draws in another energetic quality, known as prana. This prana, or qi, as it is called in China, is our vital life force energy. Eastern adepts have long been aware of the rejuvenating power of prana, recognizing it as an essential link between the mind and body. From the ancient traditions of yoga and Buddhist meditation to the enduring practices of qi gong and tai chi, the breath has always been a powerful vehicle for transforming the body, mind, and spirit.
With each breath, the body takes in and absorbs prana, constantly activating and stimulating the energy flows that comprise the human energy system. Acknowledging that the breath is a vehicle for prana, one begins to understand how specific qualities of the breath, such as speed, depth, and rhythm, all have a critical effect on energy flow. Poor breathing habits can result in the inhibition, or blocking, of this vital flow, creating energetic disturbances that adversely affect the balance of the mind/body continuum.
In unraveling tensions in the breath, we also dismantle their corresponding energetic disturbances, opening up energy flow. Attending to energy flow and allowing it to move more freely can have transformative effects on consciousness as well as physical health and well-being. As we bring into play the interrelationship between breath and energy flow, we not only awaken our vital life energy, but also awaken the breath's innate intelligence, embarking us upon an inner journey of self-discovery, inspiration, and awakening.