Pranayama is a very important aspect of Yoga and the goal of Pranayama is “Deerga and Shukshma” i.e. the breath has to be long and smooth. Breath extension is very important because it has consequent impact on our neurological system, on our emotional system and also on our physiological system. When the breathing is long and smooth the body feels relaxed. Therefore the relaxation response is triggered in the body. So the body’s muscular structure feels relaxed, strong not tensed and on the edge the neurological system is relaxed and so it is not in the state of panic but rather when we are relaxed our sensory system in environment will perceive accurately so our responses will be accurate. In the same way, our emotional system will also function in the appropriate manner when we are relaxed. For these reasons the extension of breath is important.
What is very important is the extension of breath alongwith the smoothness or subtlety of breath. Patanjali does not say “Deerga Prana”. He is talking about the “Deerga and Shukshma” the subtlety. The quality of breath is as important as the length of breath. We can’t just extend the breath where the quality of breath is dropping. Smoothness and the subtlety of breath is very important because the smoothness and the subtlety of breath has a direct impact on our energetic system. That’s why we must not think of Pranayama as a championship with our source where everyday we are competing so that our breath becomes longer each day.
We also have to focus on the smoothness of the breath because if the breath is not smooth it indicates that there are some psychological and physiological obstacles. We need to learn these obstacles and overcome these obstacles so that the smoothness can be ensured.
So, my friends, do not only focus on the extension of breathing, focus on the extension of breath with the smoothness of breath as well. The “Deerga and Shukshma” are both essential and important parameters to measure the quality of our breathing. In yoga the quantity is not always important but its the quality also equally or perhaps even more significantly important.
Namaste my friends!
Viniyoga® Teacher @ Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation