Everything is energy. The air we breathe, the thoughts we think, the feelings we emote – while we can’t see it, all of these things possess potent energies that have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing.
Whether we are aware of it or not, our bodies are major conduits of energy. Just as our blood pulses through our veins to bring oxygen and other vital nutrients to different areas of our bodies, we also have veins of energy flowing steadily within us as well. These energy channels are known in the Sanskrit language as “nadis”, meaning “flow” or “vibration”.
We are thought to have over 72,000 unique nadis circulating throughout our energetic bodies, all converging together at the heart space. Constantly at work taking in energies and processing them through a complex flow pattern, nadis are our portal to the greater human energy field.
The more open our nadis, the more open we are to receiving. In fact, the nadis serve as our direct connection to the flow of vital life-force energy that is constantly vibrating around us – prana.
What Is Prana?
While different philosophies refer to it under different names – for example, in Chinese medicine it is called “chi” – prana holds essentially the same meaning across cultures. Prana is the underlying true essence present within every living thing. It is the energy responsible for keeping us alive. It is life-force energy, and without it life as we know it could not exist.
Prana isn’t something we see, it is something we feel. While its subtle nature can make it difficult to understand or recognize at first, prana permeates every level of our being.
It is the sea of energy that connects all facets of the universe, every particle, atom, molecule that binds our reality together. All matter we see around us is simply a manifestation of this prana energy – without it, nothing would exist.
Prana is constantly flowing through us and around us. It is the energy that inspires us to take meaningful action. It is the power that generates our motivation, enthusiasm, and passions. While it exists on a purely energetic level, it is both the source of our creation as well as the force that sustains us.
It is ever-present and limitlessly abundant – how well we are able to harness it is where the real challenge lies. Prana is always available to us – it is the extent to which we can feel and observe it, how willing we are to open ourselves up to it, as well as our level of awareness that will determine how connected we are to its unbounded potential.
If you want a deeper understanding of prana you can learn more on our What is Prana post.
How Does Prana Enter The Body?
So, how does prana enter the body then? How do we get more of this life-sustaining energy present in our lives?
Before we can consciously invite prana directly into our field, we must first be open to receiving it. We must possess a willingness to lower our barriers and show true vulnerability. To compassionately surrender to the person we are in the here and now. When we live in self-compassion, a certain sweetness to life begins to open up that didn’t exist before: it becomes as natural as taking a breath.
Breath is the most natural thing we do. It is such an intrinsic part of being alive that without actively directing our attention to it, we usually forget about it entirely. As yogis, we are likely already familiar with the term pranayama, or the control of breath. While we recognize its importance in our yoga practice, we often forget that it is an incredibly powerful tool in its own right.
As the name pranayama would suggest, this practice of breath control is one of the simplest and most straightforward ways to increase prana energy in the body. As we inhale, we breathe in the air of life. We fill up and expand. As we breathe out, we sink down as we empty our lungs and create space for fresh air to take its place. When we engage in pranayama, we directly manage the flow of prana in and out of our bodies.
Beyond Breath: The Power of Asana and Movement
However, managing and increasing prana in the body isn’t just restricted to the flow of breath. If prana is unrestrained and present all around us, what other ways can we work with prana in our lives? How does prana enter the body beyond working with just the breath?
According to the sacred Upanishad texts, there are a multitude of ways to answer these questions. Namely, through the practice of yoga. Yoga – in all its forms – can also be a source of prana. One of the most familiar and accessible to all of us is, of course, asana, or the physical form of our yoga practice.
Have you ever noticed the energetic sensations and shifts that can occur during or after practicing asana? While our bodies are merely the containers of our energy, if we don’t move that energy around within our bodies, it can become stagnant. This can cause a multitude of issues from physical ailments to feelings of anxiety and depression.
Moving our energy consciously and deliberately through asana is a highly effective way to cleanse ourselves of unwanted feelings and emotions. When we move through physical postures, we are able to clear out some of the junk weighing us down. We get a chance to empty ourselves of negativity and fill ourselves with the breath of life – prana.
To work specifically with prana energy and how to move it through your body, try this Dynamic Yoga class with Parinaz.
You Are What You Eat AND Digest
We all know the age-old phrase “you are what you eat”. In a lot of ways, this saying holds some truth. Prana is also available to us via the foods we choose to eat. When we choose foods from nature, we ingest prana directly with them. Foods taken directly from the earth have the highest possible vibratory affect. The less processed a food is, the more energetically powerful it will be for your body.
While it makes sense that the foods we physically ingest have a vibratory impact on our energies, how does prana enter the body in other less tangible forms?
Well, according to Ayurveda – the sister science of yoga – you aren’t what you eat, but rather what you digest. And we digest far more than just the foods we eat – from the things we choose to watch, the words we choose to speak, the media and entertainment we choose to consume, we are digesting it all, whether it is conscious or subconscious.
In this way, how we choose to spend our time can either work to increase prana in our lives or restrain it. If we spend our time stressed out doing things that drain our energy, our prana diminishes. If we choose to spend our time pursuing the things that bring us joy, or spending time out in nature, we feed our souls with life-force energy directly. Prana is even available to us through something as simple as sunlight. All we have to do is allow it in.
Whether we are aware of it or not, our energy is a powerful indicator of our wellbeing. The more prana we invite into our fields, the better we will live. The more balance we will be able to cultivate in our lives. We will be able to fully experience the evidence of our five senses, the pulsation of our hearts, the currents of emotions and waves of thoughts in our minds – we will carry the whole universe within us and let its life-force energy live through us. We will live well.