More we Breathe, Better we Feel!

25 JAN, 2015
by Bikash Mohanty

In my yoga classes, the teacher often mentioned “Pratanjali” at the beginning and end of the classes, to bow our heads down with gratitude towards the originator of the Yoga Sutra, which is the guidebook of classical yoga. Written at least 2000 years ago, it’s made up of 195 aphorisms (sutras), or words of wisdom. But I never heard about Patanjali, the person who supposedly compiled these verses of Yoga? Like many tales about the world’s spiritual heroes, the story of Patanjali’s birth has assumed mythic dimensions. One version relates that in order to teach yoga on earth, he fell from heaven in the form of a little snake, into the upturned plans (a gesture known as anjali) of his virgin mother, Gonika, herself a powerful yogini. Here he’s regarded as an incarnation of the thousand-headed serpent-king named Remainder (Shesha) or Endless (Ananta), whose coiled body forms the throne on which Lord Vishnu is reclining. Thus, this snake is worshipped by Hindus as it is the seat of Lord Vishnu, who is one of the Holy Trinity in Hinduism.

Another version which I believed from my childhood is, based on the stories I heard from my grandparents: Lord Shiva is the God of Yoga, God of Music, God of Dance, God of Knowledge, God of Patience, God of Simplicity, God of Moderation, God of Fairness, the God who protect us and destroys all evil power. Dance is an important art form in India, and Shiva is believed to be the master of it. He is often called the Lord of Dance. The rhythm of dance is a metaphor for the balance in the universe which Shiva is believed to hold so masterfully. The upper right hand of lord Shiva holds damaru which is a musical instrument that produces rhythmic sounds. It is suggestive of the sound of breath, the sound of life, the vibrations underlying all currents of creation and manifestation. It also represents the vibrations that arise from our thoughts, emotions, mental activity, movement of senses and the very universe in which many lively creatures continue their existence till then find an escape to merge again with the creator.

It is even more heart-warming to appreciate that these yogic steps originated many thousands of years ago, are found to be useful to us living at this point in time, across this world.

Prana is the Sanskrit word for "life force"; in yoga, the term refers to a cosmic energy believed to come from the sun and connecting the elements of the universe. The universal principle of energy or force, responsible for the body's life, heat and maintenance, prana is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe. This life energy, prana, has been vividly invoked and described in all Indian holy books, ancient scripts. Prana and vayu are considered interconnected. According to Sanskrit vayu (air) is essential for prana (life) to exist. The Pranayama (Practice of breathing) therefore helps us to live comfortably, peacefully and happily.

Our mind distracts us to breathe. We forget we breathe with our non-stop 60,000 mental activities a day. More we breathe, better we feel. Yoga emphasises moderation in everything we do, but it also urges us to work effectively and achieve perfection in whatever we do. Achieving perfection in our desired field will lead us to realise our goals in life / purpose of our life. Something to remember on this beautiful Sunday :)  Have a wonderful week ahead and a relaxing rest of the day.