I have no doubt that George Lucas based Yoda’s script around the words from the ancient yogic teachings, everything he says can be applied to what we learn in yoga.
The quote above for example, the force that he talks of – what is it exactly?
Well, it’s an “energy field created by all living things”, says Obi-Wan Kenobi, “it’s always been there, it will guide you” says Maz Kanata, it’s “the energy between all things, a tension, a balance that binds the universe together,” says Luke Skywalker.
Ok so how does this apply to yoga then? Ever heard of prana? No? Well let me explain…
Prana is a Sanskrit word that translates as ‘vital life force’ (see where I’m going here?) it is the type of energy responsible for the body’s life, heat and maintenance – for any living thing.
Prana is the energy that rides on the breath, when we breathe in we take in prana, so when we improve the quality of our breath we boost this energy. Let’s simplify it for a second: Healthy body = full of energy, unhealthy body = weak and low energy, death = nothing – no energy.
Through the breath we can help prana flow freely, we can pump oxygen around the body to our heart and lungs and boost our immune system. We can help the blood flow freely by moving around in different postures, creating more balanced levels of wellbeing.
There’s no wonder then that there’s so much emphasis on the breath in yoga:
When we are aware of the breath, control shifts from the brain stem (medulla oblongata) to the cerebral cortex (evolved part of brain), random thoughts and emotional stress are less likely to occur because millions of sensory receptors in the respiratory system send signals via the vagus nerve to the brainstem. Your breath slows, inducing the parasympathetic response, creating calm, and mental clarity, and in our physical practice we eliminate joint compression and imbalances from our postures.
Through the practice of yoga asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises) we can expand and distribute evenly the life force within our bodies.
We create balance – we can suddenly control our breathing pattens, calm the nervous system and eventually become more relaxed, patient, forgiving and compassionate.
When we take a minute to breathe before we react to something, we change the energy between us, the tree, the rock, and everywhere.
By controlling the breath we can feel the energy of the force and become Jedi masters of our own body, mind and destiny.