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Breath and Cosmos

Prana

Ancient Seers introduced in spiritual practice a system, Yoga, which awakens human consciousness and
opens the gateway towards its next stage of evolution. In Yoga much importance and attention is given to
the breath. It is considered to be much more than a simple physical action. Breath is the transport of the
subtle life energy called Prana.
Breath and Prana are the companions of the soul. Both are necessary to sustain life. They connect the
individual being to the Absolute Being of the Cosmos.
Several methods are used that employ the breath as a technique for the development of awareness.
Breathing exercises also serve for the build up of spiritual power and energy. This leads the practitioner
eventually on the path of spiritual transformation, the attainment of absolute and unconditioned
consciousness. The first step is for the practitioner to become aware of the breath by listening to the
sound of the in and out flow of air through the nostrils. This generates the sound Hamsa. It is the sacred
sound formula or mantra, which represents the sound of the breath of the self-existent impersonal Spirit
or Brahman. The breath of the cosmos.
The next phase is to become aware of the flow of breath to the nostrils. The subtle body contains Nadis
or arteries through which the psychic energy of Prana flows. Two of these arteries connect the energy
centre at the bottom of the spine to the nostrils. On the left side this Nadi is called Ida. The tradition
associates it to the Moon, coolness, feminine energy, intuition, night and the right hemisphere of the
brain. The artery that opens into the right nostril is called Pingala. It is associated with the Sun, heat,
masculinity, logic, day and the left hemisphere of the brain. The practitioner of Yoga comes to understand
that when the left nostril is more open, it is the Ida energy, which is active in the body. And when the right
nostril is more open the Pingala energy is working.
In following phrases the practitioner learns to synthesise these two energy streams into one. An important
technique that is used towards this end, is to activate the several energies in pairs of opposing dualities.
The Ida or night energy is activated during the day. And the Pingala or day energy is activated by night.
The flow of the two energy streams has its own cycles. The practitioner continuously applies the principle
of opposition or inversion. And the final aim and result is the activation of the most important energy flow
of the human energy body. The flow of the Kundalini energy through the Sushumna Nadi, which is
situated in the subtle body where in the physical body the spinal column is found. This is called Svara
Yoga.
The subtle life energy of breath, Prana, is also used by the yogi for the build up of spiritual or psychic
energy. The cosmic life force or Prana, which exists in our being through the breath, is understood to
consist of 5 Prana Vayus or pranic airs. Of these two, the Prana or in-breath and the Apana or out-breath
have to be reversed in such a way that it will be the Apana which moves up and the Prana which moves
down. This inversion generates and awakens the psychic energy of the yogi. It induces the Kundalini to
flow through the Sushumna Nadi to the top of the head, activating the energy centre that is located there.
The practice that induces this process is called Pranayama, which means the lengthening of the breath.
We have mentioned this Kundalini force several times already. For the yogi this force is a goddess. It is
an important principle andentity for spiritual practice, for the development of psychic powers, and for the

attainment of unconditioned consciousness. Its functioning also offers us a key for the understanding of
the functioning of the cosmos, as it is a cosmic principle functioning on the plane of micro cosmos.
The awakening and raising of the Kundalini through the Sushumna Nadi can be achieved through several
techniques of yogi practice. It is even known to sometimes occur spontaneously, possibly as a result of
spiritual practice undertaken in previous lives.
The energy is described as a flow of heat through the spinal cord, accompanied by various sounds heard
in the inner ear. On its path it encounters several centres of psychic energy, which are situated along the
Sushumna Nadi. These are called chakras or energy wheels and play an important role in all spiritual
development. At its final destination it unites with an energy node situated at the top of the human head.
This is the fulfilment of the process. The spiritual energy generated through the yogic practice of the
individual unites with what we can be called divine energy. This pervades the cosmos. Thus the individual
consciousness is changed, transformed. This is called Kundalini Yoga.
Although the unification of the individual Kundalini energy with the divine cosmos energy is the climax of
the spiritual practice, it is not the conclusion. Because it is imperative to return the transformed energy to
its point of origin, the energy point or chakra at the base of the spine. Not doing so is not only dangerous,
but it would also defeat the achievement and purpose of the spiritual practice, which is the building up of
spiritual of psychic energy in the subtle body of the practitioner. The returning of the Kundalini energy to
its point of origin also requires specific yogic techniques that are acquired through spiritual practice.
The ascend of the Kundalini is called Arohana in Sanskrit, and the descend is called Avarohana. This
cycle of ascend, transformation and consequent descend of an energy, process or force can be shown to
be a universal pattern, which has its equivalent in all aspects and planes of the functioning of our
cosmos. We are proposing here that it is a primordial pattern of the creation we live in.
Reflecting the very essence of the process of cosmos. It may enable us to understand both our cosmos
as well as our own being better and on a deeper level.
All the examples so far described in this article follow the same pattern of inversion and transformation.
The first phase is the rising of the energy flow, which we will call Arohana, after the Sanskrit term. At the
end of the rising, at the apex of climax, a transformation is accomplished. After which the transformed
substance or energy must be returned to its point of origin, will the process have its required or intended
purpose. And in the interaction of the process we see further inversions and transformations take place.
Going up becomes going down; going down becomes going up. Food becomes waist and waist becomes
food. This process of Arohana and Avarohana, inversion and transformation generates energy. And we
have seen it functions on the basic biological plane of breathing as well as on the subtle plane of spiritual
practice. The energy generated is both gross physical energy as well as immaterial, subtle psychic
energy.