Understanding and connecting with Prana
The Quarrel Among the Senses – A Vedic Story
The five faculties of our nature—the mind, breath (prana), speech, hearing, and sight—were arguing about which was the most important. To resolve the dispute they decided that each would leave the body in turn to see whose absence was missed most. First speech left, yet the body continued to flourish though it was mute. Next the eye departed, yet the body flourished though blind. Then the ear left, yet the body thrived though deaf. Finally the mind left, yet still the body lived on, though it was now unconscious. But the moment the prana started to leave, the body began to die. The other faculties were rapidly losing their life-force, so they all rushed to prana, admitted its supremacy, and begged it to stay.
This is an old Vedic story, found in ancient Sanskrit texts of spiritual teaching called the Upanishads.
What Is Prana?
Yogic philosophy believes that Prana is a universal energy that inhabits all living things. It flows through us in subtle body channels called Nadis, which interestingly are very similar in location and direction to the Chinese Meridian Lines that too carry a vital force called Qi.
The word Prana is rooted in thousands of years of Hindu, ayurvedic and yogic philosophy. In yoga it is the original creative power, the energy that manifests and permeates the whole universe and that which shapes and sustains all life. But prana itself as a word is translated and understood similarly in all cultures; Christian culture calls this The Holy Spirit, Qi (Chi) is the vital energy in Chinese medicine, Mana is the universal mystic power connected with Maori and Polynesian cultures, who say it can be lost or cultivated through your life choices. This knowledge of energetic power or oneness of spirit with all seems to thread throughout the world and through history.
How can we affect Prana within us?
Prana is fundamental in our health and wellbeing, and it is said that the channels which connect the physical to the energetic are called Chakras. These chakras are gateways, if you will, to use physical movement and mental focus to affect our energy or Prana.
Yoga poses and vinyasa flows link movement with mental focus (drishti) and also with breath which helps to tone, clear and energise the Nadis or energy lines currently humming throughout our bodies, this is one of the reasons that yoga is a beautiful, healing practice emotionally, spiritually and physically.
It is said that Prana enters the body through the breath so in yoga we have a practice called pranayama which allows us to increase and balance the prana or life force within us through breath control. Nadi Shodhana is one of the many pranayama practices and is a powerful and calming way to invite balance of the left and right sides of the body.
By understanding this loving energy and learning ways of connecting with it we begin to feel it change within us. We feel connected with our true self and to the land we walk on.