We all carry a certain charge that maintains the beat of life which is called prana. This charge exists both in nature and within human beings, most commonly received from digested food and breathing, prana in essence is the constant vibration buzzing throughout the universe. Synonymous with the Chinese equivalent “chi,” prana is known as the life force, the sustainer of all living things and should be well cared for if one desires a long life and sustainable energy. It is through prana that the body starts and ends its voyage through the challenges experienced in life. As one understands how to strengthen their prana they simultaneously strengthen their approach to overcoming the obstacles that hinder the performance of one’s dharma or purpose in life.
Prana is the subtle essence of vata dosha and is responsible for maintaining order within the electrical responsibilities of the body. Naturally, the nervous system houses the majority of the task prana performs and should be well cleansed through diet and yoga if one would like to deepen their cultivation of prana. All reality is experienced through the five senses (hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, and smelling), all of which is absorbed into the nervous system, where this information is integrated for an appropriate response. The body and mind must discriminate if the current moment is one of danger or peace and then must decide how the acquired prana should be spent as a result. These responses can come from real or imaginary circumstances and can cause an individual to have constant outward flow of pranic energy which can be experienced as stress, anxiety, hyper-ness, or giddiness. The machine which is a human body is totally fueled by prana and once prana has completely vacated the individual death becomes the result. Thus, it is important to know what things deplete the body of prana and know how to preserve prana efficiently.
To be immersed in prana is to saturate the deeper tissues with the energy that has been acquired through food and air. This is most commonly done through the practice of pranayama, which should be learned from a competent teacher. Pranayama translates as “life-force elongation” and requires the practitioner to stretch the breath to a slower rate by retaining after inhalations and exhalations. This allows for the nervous system to be directed more inward rather than releasing the precious prana out from the body. As pranayamas (breathing exercises) are just as vast as the number of asana (yoga postures) it is best to start simple and practice preliminary pranayamas till a qualified teacher becomes available. This is done by making inhalations and exhalations same in length, while retaining for the same amount of time. Start by inhaling for a count of eight then hold the breath for a count of four then exhale for a count of eight then hold for a count of four. Repeat this cycle up to five minutes then take a few deep breaths without retention to release the practice. Ultimately, one should start to experience deeper and slower breathing apart from practice and a noticeable mental clarity or stamina.
Prana is also influenced by the activity of the mind and will flow to wherever the mind roams. As thoughts tend to be directed outward into the world of advertisement and desire, prana gets dragged from its peaceful abode within the body and towards an object the mind is enamored with. By maintaining inner calmness one can become a witness to the power objects have through their attempt to take hold of your attention and ultimately your hard earned prana. The tendency for the mind to wonder is diminished when the breath can align with awareness within the body. This can easily be done by visualizing the breath move from the tip of the nose to the naval on an inhale and moving from the naval to the nose tip on an exhale. This is indented to keep awareness which is a holder of prana within the body rather than letting is roam out into external things.
As all great things take time and inner calmness it is similarly important to practice slowly and patiently while developing a relationship with prana. Prana is delicate and requires the individual to be gentle with the self and care for it like a close friend. And as time progresses prana will grow and lead one forward with confidence and energy.