Air is an essential element for plant and animal life, surrounds the earth and forms its atmosphere.
We are permeated from the air, completely immersed in it, and yet this element may seem so “little concrete”; elusive to the touch and the other senses, odorless, tasteless, colorless … and yet so present and important!
So, treating the element of air, it would seem difficult to recognize its essence, so invisible and impalpable. But it is definitely less when the air shows such as vibrations, appearing to us in the form of cool breeze. A cool breeze that spreads out of our hands and the top of our head.
The Air is also a very important means of transmitting, because through it we receive the sound waves, and then the magic of music. In many philosophical treatises we talk about the connection between music, philosophy and religion, then the power of music to give a higher consciousness.
In one Indian script of the twelfth century, the Sangitaratnakara (Ocean of Music), music deserves the appellation of Vimuktida or “giver of liberation” to indicate those higher faculties of the art which it bears.
Some sounds also have a significant effect on our subtle system and this is the principle that is the basis of mantras, a mantra comes as a phonetic repetition of expressions that facilitate the achievement of the state of thoughtless awareness, thus facilitating the achievement of a meditative optimal condition.
Subtle principles of the Air element
Air and Heart
The air has a direct influence on the Heart chakra. It in fact comprises at physical level, in addition to the heart organ, also the lungs . Often, without realizing, you tend to breathe badly, this is because all the tensions, fears, anxieties, frustrations, that are accumulated in the heart chakra, are then reflected at the physical level as incorrect attitudes. In the meditative state breathing is mild, gentle and so the air is absorbed smoothly and without jerking. Breathing deeply a few times before you start to meditate can be helpful to release channels from the vibratory ‘heat’, but we must not forget that in the meditative state inhalation and exhalation tend to reduce, to enter into one another. As we said, air is also connected with music, since a sound is not more than the vibration of air. This is the reason why music touches our heart so directly. So, wen we meditate with music it is like if we were working our Heart chakra with the Air element!
Air and Agnya
The way we communicate with the Air element is usually imperfect because of our mind: the thick blanket of thoughts, that makes our head heavy, goes to weigh on our heart and makes our breathing irregular and insufficient.
It happens also that, just on a physical level, the formulation of an inner thought first of all puts into contraction the vocal cords (in the simulation of a word in an inner dialogue), and therefore it locks the Vishuddhi chakra; this block is then to finish in the Agnya chakra when thinking becomes a mental image.
Moreover, air also serves as the fuel for the right side. As fire needs air to burn, so our right side, if it is not fed from air, i.e. an efficient breathing, tends to cause a warming of our system, with the obvious consequence of increasing stress and mental hyperactivity.
Then after the light comes the second thing, which we call as Vayu in Sanskrit, meaning the air.
So the air that we have which is gross air, what is subtle of air is the “cool breeze” that you get. The cool breeze is the subtle of that air. So the subtle of what you understand as cool breeze is what we call vibrations, the subtle of that is air; which is a part and parcel of our making. So this cool breeze is the second thing that you start getting subtler and subtler. When your growth takes place, all these subtle things start expressing themselves. It is not only that you get vibrations but you get the cool breeze and that is the subtler of air that has built you up.
Expression of Subtle Elements, Delhi 1998
Treatments and techniques
The first treatment we can suggest you using the air element is “breathing”. Breathing naturally, better in a natural environment, when it is possible. It could sound obvious, but we often forget the importance of clearing our lungs from polluted air.
For the right side. We have seen a technique for clearing the right side with the Air element while talking about our energy channels: see Simple techniques for balancing our energy channels.
Pranayama exercise. There are a couple of exercises that can be helpful. Since in Sahaja Yoga, the medative state is reached spontaneously thanks to our inner energy Kundalini, we do not usually use asanas or pranayama exercises. This is because we should not fix to much our attention on those technique to avoid to block our right side.
Anyway, from time to time, when needed, we can practice these exercises.
- Breathe out from both your nostrils.
- Clog the right nostril with your thumb and slowly inhale from the other one.
- Close both your nostrils, remaining for few seconds in apnoea.
- Close the left nostril with the index finger and breathe out with the right nostril.
- Remain in apnoea for a few seconds.
- Keep the left nostril close and inhale with the right one.
- Remain in apnoea.
- Open the left nostril and close the right one.
- Breathe out with the left nostril.
Exercise for diaphragm
People usually breathe in a different way from each other. When we breathe out, a muscular contraction occurs that reduces the dimension of our lungs so that air is pushed out; when we breathe in, those muscles relax and spontaneously air comes into our lungs. During the muscular contraction, some people (usually men) contract also their diaphragm (a membrane that lies just below lungs), while some people (usually women) only use their chest.
In this exercise, we will use both these movements, so that we will train all muscle related to breathing.
- Sit down on a chair, keeping your back straight but not rigid.
- Slowly breathe in without fully filling your lungs.
- Then, while keeping air inside, push down your diaphragm, so that your belly will blow a little bit.
- After 2 or 3 seconds, release your diaphragm and enlarge your chest.
- Repeat these movements for 2 or 3 times, before breathing out.
- Repeat the exercise 2 or 3 times.
After this practice, try to do the exercise lying down; check if it is easier or more difficult.
This exercise is very useful for those who tends to breathe almost in apnoea or in irregular way. But, as we said, practice these exercises occasionally and leave your breathing be natural.