Healing with Prana

Jan 14 2011
Article by Viriam

Prana is our divine breath - the vital life force present in all things. The energy of Air, it is subtle energy which travels through the nadis in the body (Nadis in Ayurvedic/Yogic medicine, Meridians in Chinese Medicine). In Eastern medicines, there is a more subtle awareness of energy, so there are fives types of Prana in the body with different flows of energy (Prana-Samana-Udana-Vyana-Apana) and numerous terms for other vibrations of energy within ourselves and within the universe – it is a bit like the Eskimos having 15 different words for snow, where in the West we have just one. In the West, we have not developed this subtle awareness or study of energy.

“Prana is the breath of the soul,” says Swami Mayatitananda “A bridge between body and mind, so conscious breathing practices can nourish our spirit and heal even our most grievous spiritual and emotional wounds.”

Yoga helps us create space for energy to move – it opens up the body, dissolves tension, helps us bring awareness to where we hold our tensions, our stress, our patterns, our stories. Then this life force can flow through us, we can wake up to the flow of prana.

“To change something we must alter the energy which creates it,” says Yogic and Ayurvedic scholar, David Frawley. “To bring about positive changes in the body and mind we must understand the energy through which they work. This is Prana – primary energy. It is sometimes translated as breath or vital force, but it is more than these. Prana has many levels of meaning – from the breath to the energy of consciousness itself. Even Kundalini-shakti, the serpent power or inner force that transforms consciousness, develops from awakened prana.”

Prana is one of three subtle doshas within the body – Prana, Tejas and Ojas. They are the spiritual energies of air, fire and water mirrored in the concept of Sat-Chit-Anand (True being – consciousness – bliss).

“Prana derives from Sat or Pure Being as the will to live forever and to experience the fullness of life, which is to be One with all life,” says David Frawley. “Tejas derives from Chit or Pure Consciousness as the will to know the truth, to have absolute knowledge, which is to know all the universe within oneself. Ojas derives from Anand or Pure Bliss as the will to be eternally and perfectly happy, which is to find fulfillment in all things.”

Prana is located in the heart but permeates the entire body – every cell. (Tejas – root chakra/ Ojas – head – similarly they travel to permeate the whole body).

“Shakti-prana, the body’s inherent life force, protects the reproductive organs and especially the primordial energy of Shakti within our genitals, womb and belly.” Swami Mayatitananda. “It gives us the tremendous power to bring forth life, to move energy, and to heal ourselves.”

When people think of Prana, they often think of Pranayama and of course it is one of the main ways to help generate or balance Prana. Pranayama is the conscious direction of breath. When doing pranayama it can often help to visualize the flow of the breath or through the chakras.

Prana is sufficient when:

  • Your breath is deep and full
  • Your body feels light and vitalized
  • Yours limbs are supple and you feel flexible
  • You feel vitalized and you can take action
  • You can communicate freely and your mind is sharp

Prana is deficient when:

  • There are problems with breath and lungs
  • There is lack of vitality or ability to work
  • You feel lethargic, sluggish or lazy
  • You are unmotivated
  • Your brain feels gluey

Prana is excessive when:

  • You feel spaced out or ungrounded
  • You suffer from hyperventilation, nervous ticks, anxiety or palpitations
  • You feel uncoordinated or scattered

Generating Prana – meditation and sound

  • Any pranayama - meditation with counting the breath is effective, but using mantra adds more energy. You can use ‘sat’ on the inhale and ‘nam’ on the exhale, or work with ‘ong sohung’. All naad (sound vibration) purifies the 72,000 nadis increasing the flow of prana.
  • David Frawley says: “Prana is sound vibration, nada, that exists within space. Listening to uplifting music is an ordinary way to increase Prana. Creating your own music is yet stronger.”
  • Chanting most mantras will increase lung capacity as well.
  • David Frawley suggests standing in Nature “One can stand in an open area and visualize the life force from Nature coming into oneself during inhalation, while during exhalation visualize one’s life force permeating all of Nature. One should concentrate on absorbing Prana through all the senses but particularly through the eyes. Or one can meditate on the sky day or night.”
  • Another way of generating prana through meditation is to focus on the space between things (like in the healing hands meditation – gazing between the palms 4 inches apart in front of the heart chakra.)
  • The best time to gather Prana is two hours before the dawn.
  • General control of Prana comes through the worship of Kali or for giving mastery over Prana – Hanuman.

Generating Prana through Nutrition

  • A light, Vata-increasing diet (Kapha-reducing diet) is good for generating Prana – raw foods, sprouted seeds, vegetable juices, green juices, wheatgrass, alfalfa with mild spices like coriander, mint and parsley. Yogi Bhajan often recommends a 40 day green diet for regeneration.
  • The best herbal supplement for creating and balancing Prana is Brahmi (gotu kola) good for memory and intuition.

Balancing Prana through Crystals and Colour

  • The colours of blue and green stimulate prana. Gemstones for Saturn (Prana is governed primarily by Saturn) include blue sapphire, lapis lazuli and amethyst. You can wear stones on the middle (Saturn) finger. Green stones which are more for mercury can also help balance prana – emerald, green tourmaline and peridot (ideally wear on Mercury (little) finger.

Other things you can try:

  • Massaging head, neck and feet with sesame oil can balance Prana (especially if it is excessive)

Try this Mantra:

This mantra comes from the Kundalini tradition. It is best to chant it three times in one breath…

PRANA, APANA, SUSHUMNA, HARI.

HARI HAR, HARI HAR, HARI HAR, HARI.

Prana is the life force, Apana the eliminating force, and Sushumna is the Central channel for that force. This helps draw energy up the spine for healing. Hari and Har are names of God.

Resources

Excellent books on subtle anatomy include –

  • David Frawley’s Yoga & Ayurveda and Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses
  • Swami Mayatitananda (formerly Maya Tiwari) The Path of Practice
  • Russill Paul The Yoga of Sound

“Prana enables us to quiet the mind, enter the inner universe and discover our true nature. Prana is the soul of the body that sits on the throne of the heart. Prana maintains breath, intuition and memory and animates our life force. The most pervasive force of our lives, it is formed from the element of air which brought forth the astral body, the source of our life force, as well as the emotions of enthusiasm, courage and joy.”

Swami Mayatitananda

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About Viriam Kaur

Viriam Kaur is a writer and Kundalini Yoga teacher based in Goa, India. She has been teaching yoga for seven years in London, Goa, the Himalayas and Thailand. India has been her greatest teacher - it challenges, provokes and elevates her! She trained with the SKY School of Kundalini Yoga, UK in 2003 and is also a UK certified massage therapist. She writes regularly for Yoga Magazine and Essence of Life and is currently working on her second mantra album - check her out at www.organickarma.co.uk

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