in depth


Breathe the Sunshine

Balance Prana and Apana

As we slip into summer—with its longer and lighter days—you will need more stamina to keep up all day long. There are ways to increase your energy to keep up with the sunshine of spring and summer. One of the simplest ways is to learn to breathe yogically. The breath has a balance that makes you feel invigorated yet relaxed and centered. Unlike other forms of exercise, yogic breathing focuses on filling the torso up like a vase with the life-giving energy of the breath, which is called prana.

When you breathe beyond the lungs—drawing prana to all your cells—you create a deep experience of this energy in your body. If you breathe shallowly, you force the body to work too hard for too little a return. The result is a kind of exhaustion, and you become scattered. To keep prana in balance, you also need to give energy back. The way you do that, with the exhaled breath, is called apana. Apana is the air that exists within the body that controls the processes of elimination. You engage it whenever you exhale, and it is important because it grounds you, so you can be calm carrying out your daily tasks.

Some people run all over chasing after things, never seeming to get them done. If you were to observe them in fast forward, it would look like someone gasping for air. If this sounds like you, you will need to focus on how to get the breath out and not so much on bringing it in. On the other hand, if you are lethargic or even depressed, it is a good start to learn how to make your inhale deeper. Then, if you add asana or movement, it feels even better!

On whichever side you fall, to take a yogic breath, think first of filling the body from the bottom up to the top, so when the breath gets to the chest it is an empowered one. Then, exhale with that feeling of empowerment in the opposite direction, just like emptying a water jug. This practice will brighten you up just like that spring flower eagerly pressing up to the sun!

Donna Amrita Davidge

Recommended Read: The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi


suzanne commented on 21-May-2010 08:45 AM5 out of 5 stars

Yes, this is helpful. I am very scattered and i will try and breathe more in my stomach. It's hard to blow out my stomach as we are all trying to "suck in"....Thank you!

Return to Article

Navigate Your Day with Grit & Grace

Get a Free Yogi Lifestyle e-Mint, Plus a Twice-Monthly Musing Delivered to Your Inbox