3 • Contained Body Principle


Contained Body Principle | Principle of Whole-Body Integration

“A yogi is a person whose prana is maintained inside the body.” – Krishnamacharya

Prana is life-force. Its vibration and movements are deep support for everything that we do as human beings. Our prana is precious and should be respected and preserved. As a self-study, hatha yoga is the study of prana. It is prana that supports our every breath, thought, feeling, and action. As yogis we should be serious about the maintenance of prana inside our bodies. Without good prana there is no life force with which to inquire deeply or to be effective in the world.

Often in asana practice prana is dissipated rather than preserved and nurtured. When a yoga practice is too vigorous for an individual prana is depleted rather than enhanced. Although a vigorous practice may be good for an individual, it must be built up to slowly so that prana is not wasted. Very often, serious yoga practitioners will inadvertently destroy their own prana through unskillful practice.

Another way that prana is compromised in asana practice is by allowing sheering forces to flow off of the joints, especially in weight bearing postures. In movement, gravity, weight, and directional forces should flow through the body — without sheering forces unintentionally leaving the body — especially at the joints — and dissipating pranic reserves. These sheering forces create great stress on the joints. When these forces are felt in the joints the muscles and soft tissue structures around the joints have to work extra hard to try to contain the forces and endeavor to bring integrity into the joint. This creates tension and hardening in the soft tissue. This is not the way to direct prana flow. It is unhealthy and only leads to the myriad expressions of muscular imbalance around all the major joints.



2 thoughts on “3 • Contained Body Principle

  1. This is a comment from Katie Back of Worcester, VT. She was unable to post it and asked me to do it for her:I so enjoyed reading about these 3 different principles. As an Alexander Technique Teacher I am actively seeking to bring the principles of AT together with Yoga. I do believe that the descriptions here that speak of our connection to ourselves through the practice of connecting to the subtle energetic and mechanical movement along the spine is key. What about the importance of breath, and how the breath informs the lengthening of the whole spine and the widening of the torso and the movement of all of the joints? Where does breath as a vehicle for self discovery and growth come into play in an Embodyoga practice?Thank you,Katie BackWorcester, Vt


  2. Hi Katie, The breath is an important key in all yoga practice. In embdoyoga we begin with Cellular Respiration. Cellular respiration is the movement of life force at the level of the cells and through the fluid body. Cellular breath is our first breath in life. We breathe cellularly for nine months before we ever take a lung breath. The movement of breath in the cells creates a soft, inner experience of expanding, condensing, and yielding. This is soft inner movement is the template for a healthy lung breath. so often, our external respiration (lung breath) is hardened by a lack of support under it within the cells. It is actually not difficult to contact this underneath subtle level of the breath. What we find is that when we are able to soften at the level of the cells themselves the larger tissues spontaneously soften as well. In the case of the breath – all respiration is improved. This gives more life force to all the structures of the body, including but not limited to the spine and the joints. The inquiry into the breath is used in this way as a basis for self discovery and personal growth.It is interesting what you say about AT and the breath.


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