Updated: Feb 2
"Breath is our best, most intimately available teacher of the deepest principles of Yoga" - Patanjali Yoga Sutras
Breathing has the dual nature of being both voluntary and autonomic, which is why the breath illuminates the inquiry about what we can control (Tapah) and what we cannot control nor change (Isvara Pranidhana).
Inhalation and exhalation, a balance:
PRANA AND APANA
Prana refers to what nourishes a living thing and to the actual action that brings the nourishment in. It can be understood as the functional life process of a singular thing or as the manifestation of all living forces.
In balance, Apana is what it is eliminated and also the action of elimination.
These two - Prana and Apana- in a reciprocal relationship in the body create Sukha which means ease, pleasure, and also "a good space".
Inhalation makes the rhythm of our heart slightly faster, while exhalation slows down the rate, and this variability is a sign of overall health and balanced responses to stress.
Evidence has shown strongly that Yoga impacts positively our heart rate variability: breathing and heart rhythm and regulation embedded in our autonomic nervous system (ANS).
The autonomic nervous system
Our breath is controlled by the ANS, which is automatic, but also breathing is possible to be controlled at will. Other than breathing, the ANS is in charge of regulating the stress responses, the blood pressure, body temperature, visceral activity...
INHALE . activates the sympathetic nervous system. the brunch of the autonomic nervous system that the accelerator, the mobiliser.
EXHALE. activates the parasympathetic nervous system, that is responsable to slow down our body and mind after stress, activates relaxation, restoration, rest and digestion.
From Yoga practices we understand the interconnectedness of the nervous system as an integrated system that influences our endocrine and inmune system. Our physiology and psychology, and our connection with ourselves, the environment, and our communities.