Pranayama – fourth yogic limb

After consuming yourself with the yamas and niyamas and asana, the next limb

is pranayama.  It translates as prana = life force and ayama = extension or expansion.

Pranayama is the controlled breathing practices undertaken in yoga. Prana (life force/vital energy) is controlled, fuelled and enriched through the breath. These practices help activate and cultivate prana throughout the physical body and other pranamaya kosha.

There are four aspects of prana – inhalation, exhalation, inhalation retention and exhalation retention. According to the sutras, kumbhaka (retention) is the focus and the aspiration of controlling our breath. Continue reading

Sacral Chakra

Chakra may now be a common term to you and you may even have an understanding of its meaning.

The chakras (meaning wheel or cycle) are culmination points for nadis (channels) of prana sacral chakra(energy or lifeforce). A useful analogy when considering chakras is to envision nadis as highways, filled with cars (prana) and the chakras are the intersections and roundabouts where these highways meet.

The chakras reside on the sushumna nadi, which is the central channel of energy that is aligned with the spinal column.

Let’s look closely at the sacral chakra:

Svadhisthana

Sva = vital force or soul

Adhara = substratum/foundation/support

This chakra is located between the navel and the base of the spine, just above the base chakra. It is here we dwell and is the energy place of Shakti. Whilst the base chakra gets our material needs in order, the sacral chakra then allows our emotional nature to be attended to. Continue reading