Air, Wind, and Breath | Vital Life Force

Published: Jun 9, 2022 | Revised: Mar 20, 2024
Edited by: Marce Ferreira

Air, Wind, and Breath | Vital Life Force

For already many millennia, the phenomena air, wind, and breath have been strongly associated with the existence and expression of Life, often seen as the most prominent Vital Life forces, that is, Vital Life energies.

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A range of concepts and ideas about Vital Life Force, in different ancient cultures, are simply named after the words air, wind, or breath, or even have — depending on the context wherein they’re used — the meaning of all three words.

Think of Life Energy concepts such as Prana (meaning vitality, life, spirit, animation, or breath), Qi (meaning air; vital energy, spirit, breath, or vapor), Lung (meaning wind” or breath), Inua (meaning life essence, breath, spirit, wind, weather, sky, air, or intellect), and Pneuma (meaning breath, breath of life, air in motion, or wind), to give some examples.

Additionally, air, wind, and breath are linked to notions of “motion,” “movement,” “energy,” “vitality,” “spirit,” “mind,” and “change,” which are the typical characteristics of Life’s processes. Moreover, if we can’t breathe, if we can’t inhale air, we very quickly cease to live.

As such, air and breathing have always received more immediate importance compared to food or water, the latter being things we can do without for a longer period. It’s therefore not extraordinary that wind, air, and breath have gotten such prominent focus.

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In many legends that relate the beginnings of Life, Mankind, and the Universe, wind and breath play a crucial role. For instance, it was “God’s wind that swept over the waters,” “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” and “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going.”

In fact, tales and sagas that involve wind, air, and breath play an important part in many beliefs about the origins, constituents, and sustenance of Life, across many different civilizations.

Furthermore, influencing, manipulating, moving or circulating air and breath in the body has always been an important type of healing and spiritual work in many traditional medicine and Shamanic systems, practiced through various types of Breathwork, movement exercises, and Yogic systems that work with Vital Breath or Life Force.

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