The Space Between:
In our most recent exploration of the Physical layer, or Anamaya Kosha, we discovered that over 99% of our body is actually “empty” space. Just like the rest of the world around us, we are made of atoms, and atoms are 99.99% empty. So, what is going on in all that space? The most abundant element in the human body is oxygen. It is our most essential ingredient for life. And how do we obtain and replenish all of this oxygen? It is brought in on the breath, of course!
While as yogis we are more aware of our breath than most, we still pay it a staggeringly low amount of our conscious attention. This is easy to do because breathing happens automatically, unlike eating, drinking and sleeping. It’s a little harder to tune in and awaken to the potential of something we’ve been doing unconsciously since the day we were born, but that is what the Pranamaya Kosha is all about.
As you probably know already, Prana is life force, the vital energy that moves within us and in all of the universe. It is everywhere and its highway is the breath. Our breath is the most accessible physical way to become aware of Prana, control it and use it on purpose. The Prana traveling on the breath is the fuel that feeds our energy body. While it's not tangible in the same ways as our physical body, it’s crucial to how we experience life.
Most yogic texts agree that the Chakra System is a part of the Pranamaya Kosha because it is fueled by the movement of pranic energy. While breathing is a physical act, the energy that we create, move around, and transform when we use the breath is something beyond the physical. The Pranamaya Kosha is our energetic layer. It is generated within our physical shell but also extends beyond our skin and interacts with the world around us. It is this layer that gives us the feeling that someone is behind us, that allows Reiki masters to heal, and that holds the energy we contribute to and receive from a situation, relationship or environment.
One of the best ways to care for this part of ourselves is conscious breathing exercises like box breath, breath of fire or simple deep breathing. Box breath can be practiced to release tension and stress, balance energy, and return towards a state of calm and equanimity. It’s especially useful when you find yourself getting angry, upset or frustrated.
Inhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath at the top for 4 seconds, exhale for four seconds, and then hold the lungs empty for 4 seconds.
Repeat for at least 3 minutes
Follow with a few minutes or more of sitting in silence to absorb the effects
If you feel comfortable with the four count breath, you can increase the count to 6 or 8. Just make sure you do each part of the cycle for the same number of seconds. This breath signals our nervous system that we are safe, secure, and do not need to enter “fight or flight” mode.
When we tap into the power of the Pranamaya Kosha, we realize how much potential we have in our subtle body. As we awaken to our own ability to control the breath and discover new ways to modify energy through this system, we become able to tackle energetic challenges with ease and move through stagnant energy patterns that hold us back or tire us out. Other important ways to nourish the Pranamaya Kosha include proper sunlight, fresh air, fresh whole foods, clean water, and energetic healing modalities like acupuncture or Reiki.
Next, we’ll dive into the Manomaya Kosha, which literally means “the body made of thought processes”. In the meantime, check out this full-length Pranayama Session with Vikasa Founder Kosta on our Youtube Channel!
About the Author
Inanna Jessup is a Yoga teacher, traveler and writer originally from Colorado. Ever since she quit her corporate job managing Yoga studios in 2017, she’s being roaming the planet searching for experience, wisdom and connection. She works remotely and enjoys the freedom and constant learning that come with her lifestyle. She believes deeply in the awareness, humility, tolerance and compassion that can be developed through the practice of yoga and meditation and through the experience of travel.