We’ve all heard that what comes easily is seldom valued, and that we don’t appreciate what we’ve got until it’s gone. That’s certainly true of breathing, isn’t it?
Our chests rise and fall in a regular rhythm without our conscious awareness or direction; oxygen flows into our lungs from the beginning to the end of our lives. It just happens, and we don’t give it attention until some respiratory ailment reminds us that breathing really, really matters.
For all its unobtrusive regularity, breathing isn’t as simple as you may think – not if it’s done properly, that is. Secret Power of Tantrik Breathing points out that most of us aren’t breathing in the most efficient and beneficial way, and our health suffers as a result. “Very fast and deep breathing over long periods results in too quick a loss of carbon dioxide,” Swami Sivapriyananda writes in his introduction. “This leads to muscle rigidity, stupor, and cataleptic coma.”
Tantra is a spiritual discipline that focuses on universal energy and specifically employs svarodaya shastra, or changes in vital breath that lead to a union of physical and spiritual wellness. Swami provides a detailed introduction to svarodaya and explains:
“Svarodaya shastra is not a method of breath control but a way of using normal respiration to harmonize the forces of life with the pattern of breathing.”In other words, anyone who is breathing can master this technique with only a little determination.
Yoga practitioners and dancers, among others, will already be familiar with the importance of timing inhalation and exhalation to physical movement. Svarodaya, according to Swami, goes beyond the measured in-and-out breath to address spiritual and emotional effects of practice. Secret Power of Tantrik Breathing devotes many pages to explanation, ensuring through text and illustration that readers understand not only the how-to but also the why-to of this practice.
In the second half of the book, Swami moves into the realm of what some will view as folk wisdom. Here he explains how svarodaya can be employed to gain power over another person, predetermine the sex of an unborn child, or influence a difficult person. Finally, Swami suggests specific applications for meditation with color, elements, and sound before addressing chakra adjustments that allow the practitioner to gain magical powers like flying, astral travel, and controlling nature.
Swami writes with a succinct style that is both authoritative and easy to follow. Unlike many authors of self-help books, Swami makes no effort in this volume to sell products or workshop registration. Instead, he gives us in Secret Power of Tantrik Breathing everything we need to improve health through mindful relaxation (at the very least) and control the world around us (if final chapters are to be believed.)
Whether or not we pursue a dedicated course of svarodaya, greater awareness of the power of simple breathing can be ours for the modest cost of this timeless work. The spare yet eloquent writing coupled with line drawings to illustrate techniques make it almost inevitable that readers will do more than just peruse this book. Secret Power of Tantrik Breathing is an alluring invitation to improve wellness that few will be able to resist.