Prana is derived from Sanskrit and means Life Force. It is our divine breath - the vital life force present in all things. The energy of Air, a Vata quality, is subtle energy which travels through the nadis in the body. In Eastern medicines, there is a more subtle awareness of energy, so there are five types of Prana in the body with different flows of energy, also known as the subdoshas of the Vata primary location in the body:
- Prana (thoughts)
- Samana (digestive movement)
- Udana (speech)
- Vyana (circulation)
- Apana (elimination)
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 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 under-stand the energy through which they work.
This is PRANA – primary energy. It is sometimes translated as breath or life 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 (Sanskrit: primordial power), the serpent power or inner force that transforms consciousness, develops from awakened prana.”
In AYURVEDA 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 - ANANDA (Sanskrit: 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. Prana is located in the heart but permeates the entire body – every cell.
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. Tejas is located at the root.
Ojas derives from ANANDA or Pure Bliss as the will to be eternally and perfectly happy, which is to find fulfillment in all things. Ojas is located at the head – similarly they travel to permeate the whole body.
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