Some teachers misunderstand Hong-Sau and miss its subtlety and power.
Hong-Sau helps us develop concentration by observing the natural movement of the breath.
We want to let the breath flow without controlling it in any way—not trying to breathe diaphragmatically, not trying to make the breath slow or deep, not trying to do anything!
If we let the breath flow naturally and observe it (as if we were watching someone else breathe), important things happen that are central to the technique:
- The breath will become increasing slow or shallow of its own accord, allowing us to go more deeply into concentration.
- We will experience being the “observer” and not the “doer” —which is central to depth in meditation.
- As the breath follows its natural path, Hong-Sau technique can take us to breathlessness, in which we experience our soul nature.
Some people mistakenly say to deliberately inhale while repeating “Hong” and to deliberately exhale while repeating “Sau.” This approach will not reach the depth of inner stillness that comes from feeling the movement of breath without controlling it in any way.
The Sanskrit word, Pranayama, can be understood in two ways: It means “control of the breath,” and it also means “control of the life force.” If we practice Hong-Sau correctly, we are not using the first definition—we are not controlling the breath in any way. But, interestingly, as we practice Hong-Sau correctly, it takes us to the deeper definition: “control of the life force.”
This practice of Hong-Sau will draw our life force more and more deeply inward to a place of total stillness and freedom from breath. It is a thrilling technique!