Prana can be translated as “vital energy”, “breath of life” or “vital principle”. This term is used in yogic teachings as a general reference to the manifest energy of the entire universe. The breath is considered the most subtle form of prana in our body, which is why it is most often featured in yoga breathing exercises. Prana forms the energy of our consciousness, but it is also responsible for regulating all the physical functions of our body.
The functions of prana:
Prana is the source of all body movements. It controls the various conscious and unconscious bodily functions, namely breathing, digestion, blood circulation, the process of elimination, growth and cellular healing. The prana flow distributes its energy in the body according to the quality and capacity of the nadis energy channels and the chakra energy centers. Prana also animates and affects the quality of our thoughts, emotions and consciousness. Our health and general well-being are directly related to the amount and circulation of prana in our body.
The importance of prana in yoga:
There are many reasons why a yoga practitioner should strive to understand and create sensitivity to their life energy. Since many yogic practices create or change the energy in our body, it is therefore important to have a feedback system for how and when to adjust or change these practices. There are many reasons to practice becoming more aware and sensitive to our energy as we practice:
- This informs the physical alignment and more subtle adjustments of yoga poses.
- It creates vitality and strength to physically and mentally engage in asanas and other yoga practices.
- It provides information about the effects of a sequence of poses and can guide our selection of poses to perform.
- It creates the capacity for healing and well-being.
- It is the basis of pranayama breathing exercises and provides information on the effectiveness of these techniques.
- It can inform us of our success in creating and maintaining a yogic lifestyle.
- It helps ground our awareness in the present moment.
- It influences the quality and quantity of our thoughts and therefore our ability to meditate.
How does prana circulate in the body?
Prana enters the body through the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the absorption of earthly and heavenly energies. Prana travels through thousands of tiny channels called nadis to reach every cell in the body.
The three main nadis of the body are the ida, the pingala and the sushumna, all of which start from the base of the spine and go up towards the head. The ida and pingala nadis spiral upwards and connect to opposite nostrils, while the sushumna runs straight up the spine to the top of the head. The chakras are located where the ida and pingala nadis intersect and intersect with the sushumna. The chakras are connected to the thousands of minor nadis and are therefore responsible for the distribution and circulation of prana throughout the body.
The relationship between Prana and the mind.
The quality and quantity of prana in our body has a big effect on our ability to concentrate. Yogic philosophy describes a connection between fluctuations of thoughts (chitta vritti) and fluctuations of energy. When our mental energy is still and calm, so is our experience of spirit. Thus, if one masters the control of prana, one can master the control of the thoughts of the mind and become proficient in meditation.
As Swami Sivananda tells us, “If you know how to control the little waves of Prana that work through the mind, then the secret of subjugating universal Prana will be known to you. The yogi who acquires the knowledge of this secret will no longer fear any power, since he has mastery of all the manifestations of the powers that exist in the universe. »