I don’t know about you, but this month tends to be the time of year I like the least. It’s cold, dreary, and there are no upcoming holidays to fuel some level of excitement. It’s usually the seasonal period where we begin feeling a sense of stagnation. The days are shorter and everything feels dense and heavy. Our body’s natural energy feels almost nonexistent making it difficult to feel motivated to do anything.
To make it through each day, we do whatever we can to stay alert and present. We drink coffee, eat sugary snacks, anything that will promise us the boost of energy we need to power through. But most of the time these quick-fix solutions end up doing us more harm than good. Whatever energy we are able to muster up is short-lived and often leaves us feeling more depleted.
Creating natural, sustainable energy that not only makes us feel invigorated but also grounded, is more simple than you think. We don’t need substances or more sleep (although that’d be nice) or more hours in the day. We simply must work to cultivate and embrace the field of energy that already exists around us: the universal energy known as prana.
What is Prana?
Prana, or life-force energy, is the powerful source and breath of all living beings. While other philosophies refer to it under different names (for example, in Chinese medicine it is known as “chi” and the ancient Egyptians called it “ka” ), the definition of “prana” possesses the same basic meaning across all cultures: it is the powerful energetic force that keeps us alive.
As yogi’s this may be a word you are decently familiar with. We hear instructors talk about it, but sometimes its subtle nature makes it difficult to understand or recognize. Prana isn’t something we see, it is something we feel. It permeates every level of our being. Prana is both the source of our creation as well as the force that sustains us.
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. Prana has the ability to transcend creation; while it exists on a purely energetic level, it is the primary source of our motivation and enthusiasm about life. It is the energy that inspires us to take meaningful action. Prana is the power that generates our desire to express ourselves and be free.
Prana is ever-present and limitlessly abundant. How well we are able to harness it is where the real challenge lies. Prana is always present to us. It is the extent to which we can feel and observe it. How willing we are to open up to it, as well as our level of awareness that will determine how connected we are to its unbounded potential.
Understanding prana and how to work with it begins with a basic understanding of what is known as the subtle body, or what the Upanishads referred to as the Koshas. The Koshas take us on a journey from the physical form to the discreet layers of our energy body. Together, they are what can deliver us to our highest and truest “Self”.
The ancient yogis took an inside-out approach instead of our outside-in mentality. Through activities such as meditation, they sought to understand the functions and composition of their bodies internally first.
According to this inside-out philosophy, we are actually made up of five different bodies. These bodies range from the densest form of our physical bodies all the way to the ethereal realm of pure consciousness–Our direct connection and integration with the Divine.
While modern society has driven us to become intimately familiar with our physical bodies, they are merely containers of energy. We are made up of so much more than the illusion of our physical bodies. The sheath of our physical form is simply our vessel towards the bliss of divine connection. While it often screams for the most attention, the physical body is only the first layer of our existence.
Understanding the Energy Body
Underneath the sheath of our physical form, we actually have a second body known as pranamaya kosha. This is our energy body. The pranamaya kosha is all about our personal interconnection with prana. How do you increase prana in the body and around it freely and openly? What kind of relationship do we have with this vital life energy? How authentically is it able to flow in and around our bodies?
The pranamaya kosha is quite complex, consisting of over 72,000 unique energy channels that travel throughout the energetic body. These channels are known as “nadis”, or the Sanskrit word for “flow” or “vibration”. The nadis are our connection to the flow of life-force energy that constantly vibrates around us. They are responsible for delivering prana to every cell of the body.
You can think of nadis as the conduits of our energies. The more open our nadis, the more prana we allow to enter us and spread throughout the entire body.
How Do You Increase Prana Energy, Really?
So, how do you increase prana energy in your own body? How can we become more attune to its presence around us and work to channel that energy towards our own wellbeing and healing?
According to the sacred Vedic texts, we can manage and increase prana through a variety of activities and mindfulness techniques. However, the easiest and most straightforward way to increase prana energy is through the breath, or pranayama.
When we engage in pranayama, we directly manage the flow of prana in and out of our bodies. 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.
Respiration, even as it happens passively, is the force responsible for both lifting us up and grounding us down: in this way, the quality of our breath determines the quality of our life experience. We can either rush through life taking shallow, panicky breaths that stay in the chest cavity, or we can make the choice to breathe deeply, taking long, nurturing belly breaths that soothe us and let our bodies know we are okay.
On a basic physiological level, the mere action of this kind of focused breathing activates the entire parasympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic nervous system comes online, our bodies are finally able to rest, relax, and most importantly, repair themselves.
Quite literally, the simple act of consciously breathing in and out calms and restores us. Try one of Ohana Online’s restorative yoga classes to work on engaging the breath and parasympathetic nervous system in this way. As the parasympathetic nervous system signals to our body, we are safe and cared for, we give our bodies the chance to do what they do best: heal and bring themselves back to balance, all on their own.
It’s a Prana-full Life
So now the question stands, what brings you life?
What are the things in your life that initiate the subtle uplifting sensation you have come to recognize as prana? How do you increase prana energy in the body so much so that you are able to embody its power and even share it with others?
To manage your energy, you must first become aware of it. It is time to start paying attention to how the various things in your life impact how you feel. Begin noticing what brings you energy instead of draining you of it, however subtle the feeling might be.
It could be something as small as the feeling of the wind and sunshine against your skin. Noticing the small, unassuming moments that lift your heart up. The ones that make you feel just a tiny bit lighter.
When prana flows freely and unrestrictedly throughout the body, the result is physical, mental, and emotional harmony and wholeness.
We are no longer disconnected from our environment and the people and world around us. No longer do we have to constantly wonder to ourselves: how do you increase prana energy? We just feel it. We have a relationship with it and have our own understanding of how it can play a role in our lives.
Through prana, we can be the source of our own energetic wellbeing. As we begin to become more and more aware of our own energy and the subtle stirrings of our energetic body, expansion is inevitable. Deepening our relationship with prana allows us to tap into our greatest potential; the more integrated it becomes in our lives and into our being, the closer we come to our highest Self.
Learn to connect with prana by finding classes that fit your needs and your schedule. Get your first 14-days of Ohana Online on us when you sign up today! (No credit card required). It’s time to connect with prana and feel your subtle energetic body expand.