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Excerpt from "The Power of Prana: Breathe Your Way to Health and Vitality"

Chapter 3: The Importance of Pranic Breathing

by Master Stephen Co


“PROPER” BREATHING

Most people would be surprised if you told them they weren’t breathing properly. After all, breathing is instinctive. Why would you need someone to teach you how to breathe “properly”? Your body knows how to breathe quite well. Well, yes, breathing is performed unconsciously, the same way drawing in a baseline amount of prana is carried out unconsciously. But the truth is, most people do breathe inefficiently and improperly—at least in regard to the type of breathing needed to draw in great quanti­ties of prana to energize themselves. In fact, learning to breathe properly is the first and easiest step you can take toward increasing your overall energy level. Simple to learn and master, proper breathing will quickly deliver numerous benefits. Among the physiological benefits, to name just a few: an increase in lung capacity, more efficient oxygen exchange, improved endurance, better cardiovascular functioning, diminished mus­culoskeletal tension, physical relaxation, mental relaxation, and anxiety reduction. Among the energetic benefits: a cleaner energy body, straight­ened health rays in the aura, an increased capacity to take in and utilize large quantities of high-quality prana, and release of negative emotions held in the body.

Rather than breathing properly—that is, drawing in a full, slow, silent breath down to the bottom of their lungs—most people breathe “high” and “shallow.” This means they breathe not by moving their abdomen out and in but by moving their chest and ribs out and in and their col­larbones up and down. Additionally, most people breathe too quickly. The average breathing rate is twelve to sixteen cycles (inhalations and exhalations) per minute—which is actually on the verge of hyperventila­tion. When your breathing is high, shallow, and rapid, you reduce the amount of oxygen you draw into your lungs—and the amount of prana you take in. Additionally, this “self-manufactured” oxygen shortage will trigger, in many people, the body’s fight-or-flight reflex, which causes a whole cascade of physiological, biochemical, and energetic changes: your body releases a flood of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that prepare you to physically defend yourself or run away. This, in turn, increases your muscle tension and anxiety, which also decreases your energy. (Technically, the fight-or-flight impulse increases your energy, as the body prepares to defend itself against a perceived assault or danger. However, this isn’t relaxing energy; it’s a high-tension spike of nervous energy that is inevitably followed by an energy crash, similar to the crash following a couple cups of coffee. That’s why you feel so exhausted after going through an emotionally taxing ordeal. Your body has had a hormonally driven surge of energy that can’t be sustained.)

Thus the cycle of poor breathing, tension, and low energy is estab­lished. We breathe improperly, which creates tension, which leads to the body releasing stress hormones. And of course when we are tense, we either hold our breath or breathe more shallowly or irregularly, which leads to greater tension, more stress hormones in the bloodstream, and in time, an establishment of the fight-or-flight reflex as our normal con­dition. With poor breathing, we create our own feedback loop to keep us in a state of constant stress and low energy, and thus poor breathing reduces both our physiological and our energetic potential.

Now, we don’t start out breathing improperly; in fact, it’s learned behavior. Every baby breathes instinctively from the abdomen, which you can see if you watch small children and babies when they’re asleep. As we get older, however, tension and the effects of stress on the body inhibit our natural breathing process. As discussed in the introduction, we are prone to holding negative emotions such as fear, stress, and anger, plus limiting beliefs and traumatic memories, as tension in the mus­culature of our bodies. And the muscles throughout the torso are one of the main places we store that tension. This includes the diaphragm, the tough, flat, oval muscle that lies under the lungs and that is drawn down when the lungs inflate fully; the intercostal muscles, which are the small, thin muscles between and supporting the ribcage; and the smooth muscle of the lung tissue itself. Tightness in any of these areas, as you can imagine, makes it difficult to draw a full breath.

We also have tension throughout the chest and torso because we don’t stretch and exercise the area properly. Today’s emphasis on fit­ness and muscle tone is definitely positive. But many people place more importance on size and musculature than on flexibility. Bench presses, overhead presses, chin-ups, and other upper-body exercises create bigger and stronger muscles in the chest, arms, and shoulders, but they decrease flexibility in those areas if these exercises are not supplemented with regular stretching. And most people don’t stretch sufficiently and often enough. Surprisingly, the current desire for “washboard abs” also creates torso tension. When you exercise the abdominals and condi­tion yourself to holding your stomach in to keep it flat, you are actually training yourself to be a chest rather than abdominal breather because you keep the lower abdomen pulled in and tight.

Now, let’s learn pranic breathing.

Exercise 3.1 Pranic Breathing

1. You may close your eyes or keep them open throughout this exercise, whichever is more comfortable for you. Sit on the edge of a chair, sofa, or bed, but keep your back straight and away from the back of the chair or sofa. Place both thumbs on your navel and spread your hands across your lower belly.

2. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind the hard palate (the hard ridge behind your top row of teeth), and keep it there as you breathe. This connects the two major meridians, or energy channels, in your body and facilitates the flow of prana. One meridian runs down the front of the body from the palate to the perineum. This is called the “conception” or “main” meridian. The other runs from the perineum up along the spine, over the back of the head, down the forehead, and terminates at the top of the palate. This is called the “governor” meridian.

3. Exhale through your mouth until your lungs are comfortably empty, but don’t strain. Your stomach should move in, but try to keep your spine straight.

4. Begin breathing in slowly and silently through your nose. Feel your lungs filling up in three segments—first the top one-third, then the middle one-third, and finally, the bottom one-third. Your chest should not move as you breathe in, only your abdomen. As your lungs reach capacity, pause for a moment; then exhale smoothly and gently through your nose. This completes one cycle of pranic breathing. Try it again up to ten times. Rest for a few minutes; then do ten more breaths. If you feel dizzy or uncomfortable at all, stop immediately and just breathe regularly for a few minutes before resuming.

Master Co is co-author with Eric Robins, M.D. of the new book The Power of Prana: Breathe Your Way to Health and Vitality (July 2011). Master Co is a Certified Pranic Energy Healer and has taught energy healing and vitality-boosting techniques to thousands of people in North America, Europe and Asia.

Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/Power-Prana-Breathe-Health-Vitality/dp/160407440X

Used with permission Sounds True publishers


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