Weekend Intention: Lengthen the Breath, Increase the Prana

My teacher started off our practice yesterday with a discussion of prana.

Prana…what is this? In yoga, prana is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe. There is prana – energy or life force – in everything. Prana is in the concrete, in your cup of coffee, in the air you breath, in the words you read, in everything. All things consist of prana, as do you.


The consequence of living in an urban environment is that the prana concentration is lower. Within concrete jungles, there is less room for the prana to flow freely as compared to more natural, open environments.

Returning to my home, Yosemite National Park, I can instantly feel the higher prana concentration. Life moves at a gentle, calm pace and my movements and breath follow suit. On the flip side, when I venture to NYC from Philly, I instantly feel the much lower prana concentration. Everything is moving so quickly. Everything is more congested. As a result of less prana, I can feel my breath begin to shorten – to get caught up in the prana surrounding me.

This is normal. We definitely get caught up in the prana surrounding us. We begin to move with the pace of the prana. If you are an urbanite like myself, you may find that your breath is always short, quick, and strained because you are constantly caught up in the prana of your environment. This is not ideal.

The length of the breath matters. A longer breath translates to a calmer person. A longer breath in the yoga practice translates to a deeper practice. You can deepen the breath to deepen your journey, deepen the pose, and deepen your experience. A long, conscious breath keeps you rooted and fully alive in the present moment.

You can consciously choose to lengthen the breath and, thus, increase your prana and the prana in your environment. You can breathe for the people and life around you. All you have to do is breathe longer and fuller. Easy.

This weekend, take time to really feel your breath. Feel the beginning, the middle, and the end of the breath. Practice a 3-breath count. Inhale, 1, 2, and 3. Really savor the moment at the top of the inhale. At this point, your chest should be fully expanded and completely filled with breath. Feel it. Then, slowly exhale, 1, 2, and 3. At the bottom of the breath, feel it. Draw everything in. The bottom of the exhale is a great opportunity to activate and feel all of your bandhas working.

On the mat, practice a 3-count breathing technique or alternate nostril breathing (nadi sodhana), keeping up with the 3-breath count. Check out these free online yoga videos demoing these highly accessible forms of pranayama.

Alternate Nostril Breathing with Sarah Starr

Alternate Nostril Breathing with Sarah Starr

3-Part Breathing Technique with Shala Worsley

Pranayama with Shala Worsley

Don’t get caught up in the rhythm of urban prana. Use your breath to set your own gentle, relaxed rhythm.


Photo Credit: Pranayama via www.mikehoolboom.com

One thought on “Weekend Intention: Lengthen the Breath, Increase the Prana”

  • Khay

    It is so true that we resonate at the frequency of our surroundings. Thank you for reminding us about that and encouraging us to defy the prana of our environment on occasion.

Leave a Reply
Please wait...