Svara

 

Ethymology

Svara स्वर (svara and svāra). Voice, musical note, sound; note of the musical scale, tone in recitation, accent in grammar, symbolic expression of the number seven.

 

Concepts

Svara is the breathing of the universe. In Svara all exists. It is even said that Svara can be used for divination: to know svara is to penetrate in the reaction of cause and effect and know the unfolding of events. From the point of view of the absolute, all observable manifestation is in some way already in the past. This is like the light of stars giving us an image of a passed state. Similarly, the phenomena objectivized by our perceptions are a state that already belongs in a way to the past.

Indeed, the phenomena take birth in the subtle breath at the level of the cosmic body and not at the level of the individual body. it is the power that gravitates in the ether away from the manifested world and that realizes in the end in the phenomenal world known by us.

Svara is the becoming of the cosmic being, its intrinsic energy, its loving adventure, its Shakti manifested in the breathing of the beings and of the universe.

In human beings, svara manifests itself through the nadis and through the internal breathing. It is said that they are 72000 nadis going through the energetic body. They are like a web of wires conducting the pranic energy contained in the breathing.

Among these numerous nadis, three take a primordial importance:

Left Center Right
Ida Shushumna Pingala
     
Cool Fluid Warm
Lunar Ignate Solar
Nocturnal Luminescent Diurnal
Silvery White & Black Red
Inner Reflecting Mirror Outer
Female Extatic Masculine
Past Present Futur

 

In addition, eleven others are important:

  1. Gandhari
  2. Hastajihva
  3. Kuhu
  4. Saraswati
  5. Pusha
  6. Sankini
  7. Payaswini
  8. Varuni
  9. Alambusha
  10. Vishovodhra
  11. Yasasvini

Prana is the essence contained in the vital energy. This essence is subtle and must not be confused with air. The exchange that occurs through breathing is only one mechanism allowing the exchange of prana with the subtle body. The exchange of air is at the level of the physical body, the exchange of prana occurs at the level of the subtle body and of the nadis.

 

 

The Five main prana differentiations in the subtle body.

Within the body it is called vayus (air):

  1. Apana: the exhalation breathing
    It corresponds to the base root. It is the breathing of excretion that governs the energies downwards. It is at the origin of the consumption of material pleasures and objects. It links us through this to terrestrial food and therefore also to body sufferance and to the mortal limitation
  2. Vyana: the distribution breathing
    It corresponds to the pubic center. It is diffuse and draws the circulation throughout the subtle body.
  3. Samana: the assimilation breathing
    It corresponds to the abdomen, to the digestive fire and to the eyes
    It is the breathing that one tries to activate in order to fuse prana and apana
  4. Prâna: the inspiration breathing
    It corresponds to the heart center, to what goes in and therefore to food. It is the breathing of absorption and of internal inhalation. It governs the heart and the feelings of the personality. Prana is at the origin of the aspiration towards beauty and towards esthetic emotion, towards the mental reality of thoughts and dreams. It gives the unquenchable desire and the will to start something. It dives us again and again in the happening in order to constitute what we call a personal history or a personal point of view, specific and limited of the universe.
  5. Udana: the expression breathing
    It corresponds to the throat, to the ears, to the hearing, and to speech. It is the energetic support of the Breathing. It is the only one among breathings to have an ascending direction. It is udana that is necessary to activate to draw the other breathings upward in order to know lightness and thoughtless state.

 

The three levels of pranayama

  1. Physiological breathing
    Fine-tuning of the physiological breathing enhances health. It is important that blockages be removed at this level.
  2. Energetic breathing
    This breathing is mostly interiorized. It uses very little amount of actual air and remains almost inaudible. This significant decrease of the amount of air and the subtle form taken by the breathing is the result of purifying the body, thoughts and energy. This leads the body to adapt to these new conditions and bring forth new modalities of functioning. The energy mutates and this translates into the slowing down of vital processes such as heart, lungs, …, and breathing.
  3. Virtual breathing
    There is no breathing. The Yogi roams into consciousness on the wings of the celestial and legendary Swine (Hamsi). It is the state of awakening, the Nirvana (Extinction of the breathings). The cessation of the movement of the breathings does not trigger coma or death. It simply leads the Yogi into elimination of the remnants of Karma.

 

The four stages of breathing

  1. Inhalation (Puraka)
  2. Full Retention (Kumbaka)
  3. Exhalation (Rechaka)
  4. Empty Retention (Sunyaka)

 

The various types of yogic breathing

  1. Noisy -- Silent
  2. Alternate
    Right nostril: solar breathing (Suray Bedana)
    Left nostril: lunar breathing (Chandra Bedana)
  3. Retention (Kumbaka)
    Full Retention: Antar Kumbaka (Lungs full of air)
    Empty Retention: Bahir Kumbaka (Lungs emptied of air)
  4. Suspension: Kevala Kumbaka
    Arrest of breathing without real voluntary intervention

 

The methods of union with the Breathing are grouped under the denomination of Pranayama. These methods are described in great length in the Yoga canons. Similar methods are also found in Taoist works.