Intro to Breath - Work?
There is often a stigma associated with so-called ‘spiritual work’ which may give the lay person an impression of worldly indifference, or even escapism due to the internal nature that such work inherently involves. Is it, after all, mostly internal ‘work’ that one does on oneself when spiritual work is being done, so where is the proof that any work has, or is being accomplished at all?
Among the various disciplines that fall under the guise of spirituality, breath work is one that has taken recent prominence not only in spiritual communities, but the world alike (1) (1a)(2) (3). It has also become more evident amongst scientific researchers that most people not only have poor breathing habits, but unbeknownst to themselves, actually breathe quite detrimental to their very own health. (4) (5) (6). Yes, you heard correctly, most people’s own breathing habits are detrimental to their very own optimal health – something which can be easily overcome by a few minor adjustments starting with personal vigilance. This is where ‘working’ with our ‘breathe’ becomes not only beneficial, but quite interesting. (7) (8) (9) (10).
Pranayama, which is a ancient yogic breath work technique, explores various breathing styles and helps us become aware of our own breathing rhythms, which are, among other things, capable of cultivating various states of well-being among both short and long term practitioners. (11) (12) (13). Along with the above mentioned scientifically validated benefits breath work (pranayama) has to offer, its esoteric counterpart is possibly more fascinating than the aforementioned, and well worth exploring as a means of both Self-knowledge and to appreciate the interrelatedness of the miracle that is the human body.
One of many example of this profundity is found in the verse of the Bible where God breaths into man’s nostril, and thereby making him a living being (Gen 2:7); something latent with mystery whose true importance often eludes both casual readers and scholars alike. God breathed into man nostrils, (plural), and not the mouth or a nostril, (singular), is layered with spiritual meaning, which only a considerable amount of practice reveals how intimately related our breath and entire central nervous system really are (14) (15) (16). Only after a thorough study of certain eastern Scriptures, such as the Tantras Shastras (17), Kundalini Upanishads, and the like (19) (20) (21), do such profound meanings start to reveal themselves rather than superficial breathing as related to apertures of the nose.
But whether these types of mysteries captivate someone enough to explore them or not, it is nonetheless true that every single breathing individual can greatly benefit from simple modalities of breath work. So I invite you to explore how much working with your own breathe can help transform and bring out the best version of you.
– Joe Dolezal
Citations & Further Study