PRANA LIFE ENERGY BREATH SOUL

PRANA LIFE ENERGY BREATH SOUL

Prana is Life Energy, Breath & Soul.

Life is energy. Energy defines life. Energy as defined by physicists, according to Dr Daniel Siegel, is the movement from possibility to actuality. Very similar to anciet and traditional philosophies.

And Prana is the Sanskrit word for the intelligence of life’s energy and movement. 

WHAT IS PRANA & WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

A seed holds Prana, and with it, the potential to become a tree and forest. Cut that seed open, and though we won’t see anything, once cut, the seed has lost it potential and ability to become- live, thrive and give. That invisible, unfathomable intelligence and life force is Prana. The primal life force and breath of life itself.

This subtle intelligence behind all psychophysical functions is also responsible for the movement of breath, senses, mind and emotions. The vital life force responsible for the animation of every organism and the life of everything in the universe.[i] Without Prana nothing would exist. This life energy fuels evolution, powers the vital life processes in all life forms, and becomes the thoughts and desires of the mind[ii] ready to be redirected or stored. 

HOW IT AFFECTS US ON ALL LEVELS OF LIVING

Energy is the basis of all life. All creation is made up off energy. The first living forms on earth, were self sufficient, able to sustain themselves merely through energy synthesis, using sunlight, carbon and water. Stem cells removed from the body still hold life intelligence and form into diverse cells to perform different and intelligent functions. This wonderous feat is the power of universal Prana, or Self.

On a physical level all organisms use energy to survive, grow and thrive. The process of changing energy from one state to the next, transformation, allows growth. Our primordial DNA. Einstein understood energy as eternal, continually changing shape and state. A process of transforming from potential energy to kinetic, heat, light, electrical and chemical energy, releasing and condensing into another form. From potential to solid and back. 

On a universal level Prana is the eternal energy, breathe and soul which can’t be destroyed or created. It’s the all-vibrant, intelligent essence of life, the continual movement of awareness pervading all. All energy follows a movement of inhalation and exhalation, like the breath, expanding and contracting in a perpetual ebb and flow.[iii] And life changes from one state to another. As do we, when we allow Prana to flow freely through us. This is when we feel most alive. 

On an spiritual level our soul enters this world through Prana. Our first act, to breathe. We live because of this breath and when we breathe out our last, our soul leaves along with our individual Prana to merge once more with universal Prana.

Like waves or currents, gathering and dispersing.

It’s the movement that enlivens and transforms. 

ANCIENT WORLD KNOWLEDGE

Cultures all over the world honour this invisible life current with name and purpose. The Chinese call it Chi, Japanese, Ki, Polynesian, Mana, Islam, Baraka, Hebrew, Ruach Adonai, and Christians, the Holy Spirit. In Greek, Psyche, literally means breathe, life and soul, and in Latin the same word means animating spirit within mortals.

Prana sustains our individual life energy from the moment of birth to our very last breath. With it comes and goes the love, passion, purpose and desires with which matter is imbued. It invigorates, innervates and initiates every change, movement and growth through cellular intelligence. The difference between a body that breathes fully and one that has limited breath, is the quality of our Prana. It lets us feel alive, exuberant and awake. It’s the transforming power to becoming.  

It’s the source that nourishes, sustains, maintains and transforms all living things. It’s universal presence within us for a time. And Prana is only in the present. Pulsating in us, as we live, move and breathe because of this wonderous force. Bringing to life each and every cell, system and body, with it’s intelligence and incredible gift of life. And we are most present when we’re aware of our breath and energy.

PRANA AS A PRACTICE

Prana embodies all knowledge of life because it is the awareness and intelligence behind creation. Bridging the manifest to Unmanifest, as breath mediates between ego and spirit. Because of this prana is the single most important factor for wellbeing. All Ayurvedic therapies work with prana to bring about balance. All higher forms of yoga work toward developing prana[iv].

We can enhance our Prana through breathing well, called Pranayama. The control and extension of breath. Breathing techniques from Yoga and other integrative traditions help us to clear, clean, strengthen and relax the muscles and organs that support healthy breathing.

To function fully the lungs need to be supported, held and free to move fully. Remember movement is the expression of energy and life. Without a full range of movement we can’t expect the body, brain, nervous, endocrinal, immune and cardiovascular systems to function well, let alone in an integrated way, Which leads to optimal wellbeing. And healthy pulmonary system affects all physiological processes.

The part of the brain that affects breathing is intimately connected and effects our emotional and sensory part of the brain. In turn affecting our mood, energy, sense of safety and feelings. A Yoga teacher well versed in Ayurveda, Pranayama and mindfull breathing can help others self-regulate, regain health and even retrain the nervous system, if they themselves have been able to do so in their own journey of becoming a good enough being.

IMPROVE YOUR BREATHING & LIFE ENERGY

The most basic practice is also the most effective practice. Breathing out fully while sitting with dignity and allowing the belly to be relaxed.

It will clear the lungs, calm the nervous sytem through the vagal nerve moving into parasympathetic mode, make space for more incoming breath, and give relieve to asthmatics who tend to breathe in more than out. This allows the empty lungs to rid itself of old stale air, making way for more fresh vital breathing.

An average adult has a lung capacity of 3.5 litres. The average person only takes in about 0.3 litres. That’s less than 10%!! That explains why most of us feel exhausted most of the time. Another factor is we breathe in the upper lobes of the lungs which absorb less effectively. Combine that with poor posture and compression of the lungs, and we lose that refreshing and energising inspiration of vitality.

So let’s get back our vitality.

Just sit yourself up on a block, bolster or something so the hips are higher than your knees. This relaxes muscles of the pelvis, lower spine and belly. Allowing you room to move, breathe and be. Focus on the out breath moving out slowly, smoothly and softly. Let the in breath come by itself. With each out breath feel the belly muscles mving in and up. Let them actually move the breath out from underneath the ribs.

Do that for 3 rounds.

Then extend the out breath to a count of 6, letting the in breath also become 6 counts by relaxing the belly and pelvic muscles. Do 10 rounds. Repeat this everyday for a week. Once this is easy and comfortable, you can extend the count to 7, 8 and so on until a count of 10. Always let the practices of prana be comfortable and easy. Remember breathing is closely linked to emotions, when it becomes strained so will our emotions.

This is called Sama Vritti, meaning same movement. It calms the mind and nervous system and is the basis of all other breathing techniques, which build on this foundation.


[i] Vasant Lad, Marma Points of Ayurveda, (2008), The Ayurvedic Press.

[ii] Eknath Easwaran, The Upanishads, (2010), Jaico Publishing House.

[iii] David Frawley, Ayurvedic Healing, A Comprehensive Guide, (2000), Motilal Banarsidass.

[iv] David Frawley, Yoga & Ayurveda, Self Healing & Self Realisation, (1999), Lotus Press.

GET CLEAR, CALM & COLLECTED IN 7 STEPS

GET CLEAR, CALM & COLLECTED IN 7 STEPS

Getting clear, calm and collected in 7 Yoga steps to stop anxiety. 

Yeah!! It’s finally spring for those in the northen hemisphere and autumn in the southern. My favourite seasons. The seasons of change and renewal. Also the seasons of increased Vata. Last weeks article was about emotions and how we can transform them through Yoga and meditation. This week we’ll be looking at anxiety from Ayurvedic eyes and what we can do specific to empower ourselves if we feel overwhelmed. 

  • Understand what causes anxiety
  • Learn how you can change your nervous system with Yogic practices
  • Use your diet and daily routine to balance your emotions and mind
  • Enjoy self care that will calm and centre your body, emotions and mind

Most of my teen and adult life I struggled with anxiety. Most who know me wouldn’t know it, because I was really good at acting like I was fine. I think a lot of us live our lives that way.


You probably experience bouts of doubts, worry, anxiety, panic attacks, emotions changing for no real reason. Or maybe You’re feeling stuck in flight or flight response and want to manage or even master this feeling.


Do feel like you have become a different person compared to how You used to feel?
I know I have many times… 
And You want Yoga practice and knowledge to become resilient and confident again. That’s exactly what I wanted and didn’t know how or what. But after years of trial and error, I have some tools that can make a huge difference. To do that let’s dive into what causes anxiety to better understand how we can remedy.

Anxiety and it’s Causes 

Medically, anxiety is the nervous system stuck in fight/flight response. The fight/flight response occurs when there is any stress, whether the threat is physical, mental or emotional. It releases adrenaline, a stress hormone, preparing our physiology to escape or fight. It diverts the blood away from the internal organs of digestion, regulation and growth, to motor muscles. If our body is flooded with adrenaline we can get stuck in this alert and ready f/f mode.  


(If stress is chronic and consistent over long periods of time, our adrenals become exhausted, medically called Adrenal Fatigue, better known as Burnout.)


Ayurvedically, anxiety is excessive Vata dosha in the nervous system. Vata dosha is the psychobiological function of movement within the body/mind complex. Vata is like Wind; movement, breath, life changes. Too much wind becomes erratic, cold and drying movement of our energy and emotional states and quality of our living.


Vata when balanced is expressed as positive mental and emotional states like creativity, joy, intuition, expansiveness and deep spiritual understanding. When imbalance due to excess, Vata creates nervousness, doubts, worry, restlessness, just like too much wind will do to your skin. Because like increases like, opposite decreases. Therefore, to remedy excessive Vata, we need to increase the qualities of rhythm, warmth and moisture and the heavy quality of oils, sweet foods and anything that is not light, cold and erratic.

How to Change Gears of the Nervous System with Yoga

Advice is all too often, ‘Minimise stress’. But when our nervous system is stuck in the fight/flight gear, it can be really hard to switch to the rest/digest response. Luckily Ayurvedic principles applied to Yoga is powerful and effective.
Therefore, like winds’ irregular movement causing waves on the lake’s surface, the mind becomes erratic when we lack routine, rhythm and regularity. This affects our sense of clarity, our energy levels swing and our emotions become unreliable. Now imagine a movement that is soft, smooth, rhythmic within your body, breath and mind. This is the pattern we want to teach our breath, nervous system and mental fluctuations.  Because this will affect our body, energy, emotions and mind. So the key is to go slow, smooth and softly in our day, practice, daily routine and any movement.

The 7 Simple Steps to Overcome Anxiety

The first 5 steps are to calm the nerves. The last one is to strengthen the nervous system.
Or download my Free PDF Yoga for a Calm Mind

1 Routine & Regularity

Eat regularly, wake up & go to sleep consistently, meditate, exercise and relax regularly. Find a rhythm that works well for You and stick to it. Prediction immediately calms the nervous system. Even symmetry and a clean and clear home will create a collected and centred feeling.


2 Stay Warm

Eat warm, oily food, dress warm so nerves are not constantly stimulated by chills. Warming the nerves engages the relaxation response, slows down the mind and grounds our emotional state. It switches us from fight/flight response to rest and digest response. 


3 Breathe Out Slow

Slow breathing calms the nervous system, but the out breath activate the parasympathetic nervous system- the part responsible for the relaxation response. So breathe in for 5 breathe out for 10, do up to 10 rounds. Don’t do retentions, they might trigger nervousness.


4 Grounding Yoga Poses

Any poses that are close to the ground, bringing the energy inward and down will ground the nervous system. Any open and spacious movement will only create more anxiety. So forward bends such as cat/cow, child’s pose, wind relieving pose, forward fold, and garland pose. Even just lying on the floor, and hugging the knees, is very beneficial and centering.


5 Self Care

Self care can’t be overstated for anxiety, we tend to worry and spend too much time in our head. The most grounding practices are a warm bath, oil massage and touch. After a warm bath with essential oils such as Jasmin, Rose or any sweet smelling oils, oil yourself with a warming oil such as mustard, sesame or almond and nourish the soul, through touch.  Touch is major healer of nervous sytem disregulation and anxiety. What every mother knows, when a child or baby cries nothing is more effective than holding, hugging to call the fears and sense of loneliness. More hugs and hand holding activates the relax response. Getting an oil massage its vital in calming the nerves. Also watch a funny film, allow yourself to indulge in an activity that will literally cheer you up.


6 Physical Exercise

This is huge! As a Yoga teacher for a long time I thought this was irrelevant for me, but human body is meant to run, walk and climb. Since 2 million years we have evolved to do just this. Therefore, when we do vigourous exercise our bodies are used to their full potential and that enlivens and awakens the natural intelligence of our bodies. Once the above routine calms your system, start jogging or doing a physical exercise that strengthens the entire body.


7 Proactivity

Being proactive means we do things to progress, not to perfection. Perfectionism causes paralysis and procrastination, cutting confidence. So its opposite is take action, see the fear and do it anyway. Anxiety is also associated to thoughts of the future, whereas depression is to do with the past.  So act on those thoughts of the future, don’t ruminate or become paralysed, just act. Don’t worry if you make a mistake, or someone doesn’t like you for what you do. You can’t please all the people all the time. We are human, not supernatural. Accept yourself and You will believe others are more accepting of You.

Now it’s time to turn ideas and insight into action. Write down in the comments below what You do to contribute to your anxiety and which steps you can take right now to remedy it.

Much Love,

Shira.