Often prana is understood to be our breath, or simply oxygen – the air we breathe. Although this is an important aspect of prana, there is a lot more to it. A good understanding of what it all entails can greatly enrich and inform our life experiences, and clarify the process of our well-being. It can also assist us when we experience a lack of energy and motivation, as well as any sickness or just general moodiness and irritation.

Prana can be breath, respiration, energy, vitality, life, wind, and strength.

The breath is responsible for the immediate supply of prana or life force. It is the energy that we need uninterruptedly, and which keeps us alive. As the breath is probably the most important supplier of prana, we need to pay great attention to the quality of our breath, its depth and length, and also the ability to move our chest freely so we can receive as much as possible of this precious gift. We are aiming to use the full capacity of our lungs, keeping our ribcage flexible, the airways open, and to enrich ourselves with good fresh air.

All the different aspects of a Yoga practice give us the opportunity to increase our lung capacity, and clear any blockages in the body. Thus energy can freely move through our limbs, muscles, joints and organs. This is where we start to experience that prana is not just breath, but something which is very precious, supplying our whole being with nourishment.

Practicing asanas – postures – helps remove and prevent stagnancy in our body. Any build-up, especially around joints and in the organs, which can potentially turn into harmful substances and tissue, can be freed up by practicing postures. The basic idea of linking movement to breath has the very powerful effect of promoting free energy flow through ‘blocked’ parts of the body. This brings prana into these seemingly dead areas, and allows them to become alive again, or for yet unaffected areas to remain healthy and functional.

In addition, the practice of pranayama does exactly the same thing, as it deals with pure prana, and can be extremely powerful. The pranic sheath – one of five sheaths or koshas in the body – consists of our breath and the nadis, which are energy channels in the body. Pranayama literally means: Prana – a – yama which is ‘Prana’ = life force, ‘a’ = non, ‘yama’ = restraint: meaning non-restraint of prana or the freeing of prana. Pranayama harmonizes the individual breath with the cosmic breath.

The wrong application of prana can shatter the nervous system, lead to respiratory diseases, hiccough, wind, asthma, cough, pains in the head, ears, eyes, and nervous irritation.

Food and drink is another supply of prana, which feeds the body when absorbed through the intestines. Fortunately nowadays, the general awareness for healthy eating has increased and is promoted greatly. Fresh food carries much more prana than stale and older produce. The lesser the amounts of additives and processing of food, the richer it is in vital energy. We all have experienced in the past how wonderfully alive we can feel after a fresh, and nutritious meal as opposed to heavy and lethargic, after one that is not. This is where you have experienced prana or the lack thereof at first hand.

Other sources of prana we don’t think of so much are e.g. spending time in enriching company, exposing ourselves to the beautiful light of the sun or sitting on the earth. Some might have even experienced the uplifting and profoundly nurturing energy of a holy place during a pilgrimage. All of these provide prana to your physical, energetic, mental, and spiritual being.

So turn off the wifi at night, carry your mobile away from your body, avoid processed foods, too much TV, and draining company. Rather, expose yourself regularly to the beautiful energy of mother earth, the sun, foster enriching friendships, and most of all practice lots and lots of YOGA!

OM Shanti,