Tag Archive: pranayama

Some Thoughts on Sadhana

A regular reader of this blog commented on the consistency of my practice of taking photographs. Thinking about this practice, reminded of something I recall John Friend having said. We have a steady hatha yoga practice (asana, pranayama, meditation), for two reasons. When we’re feeling full of joy and gratitude, we practice to make offering in thanks. When we are feeling disconnected or off-balance or sad, we practice to remind ourselves of our connection in spirit. This pretty much means there is always a reason to practice.

With the photographs, sometimes the sweetest moment of my day was noticing a flower or a cloud. I practice doing so, especially when I’m feeling too caught up in the tumult. In the moment (and on reflection later when I review, select, and edit an image to share, I remember, as I do when I do my hatha yoga practice, my current well-being. Sometimes there is more about yoga practice I can say with a photograph than I could with a paragraph.

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Prana+Yama or Prana+Ayama (and Global Climate Change)

The other day a friend commented that it seemed that a major contributor to global climate change is how we have set out to control our environment instead of aligning with it (my paraphrase).  So much, he said, of what contributes to global climate change is how we heat and cool and light our homes and work places.  For example, instead of honoring the change of seasons, we overcool in summer and overheat in winter, so that we can wear the same clothes and eat the same foods year round in apparent comfort.

This comment resonated with me deeply.  It brought to mind what I have been taught about possible approaches to pranayama — the yoga practice of conscious breathing.  Pranayama usually as translated as breath control or restraint.  This assumes that the conjunction in sanskrit is of the two words “prana” and “yama.”  Prana here refers to the subtle energy of the life force in general, which we can understand best through the breath.  Yama means restraint.  If, however, we think of pranayama as the conjunction of “prana” and “ayama,” which is a reasonable way of looking at the way the word is formed, we can understood pranayama to be the practice of expansion or alignment with prana.

When we seek with our yoga breathing practices on the mat or with our technology and lifestyles off the mat to restrain and control nature at the expense of listening and understanding, we will be at war with ourselves and the earth.  If, however, we seek to align better with nature on and off the mat, to expand and enhance our relationship with the life force, rather than to restrain and control nature, we will expand our awareness of the subtle forces of the earth and live in a more life-affirming way.

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