Many of us are leading chaotic stressful lives that do not support our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. We do not eat well, exercise correctly, maintain a positive state of mind, or take the time to get the rest and relaxation we need. It is critical that we pause for a moment in our busy lives and understand how we need to heal ourselves from the inside out.
Using ancient yoga practices, we can incorporate simple and easy-to-do activities and routines in our daily life that increase our prana, that reinvigorate our energy and achieve greater vitality, health and tranquility – amid the hustle of the modern day demands.
What is Prana?
Prana (प्राण, prāṇa) is the Sanskrit word for “life force” or vital principle. Prana is the force behind life itself. It is everywhere. It is that which gives life. In Yoga philosophy, the term refers collectively to all cosmic energies, permeating the Universe on all levels. It is the sum total of all energy that is manifest. When prana departs from the physical body, there is no life. It is abundant and all pervading. It is energy and where there is energy, there is life.
In living beings, the universal principle of energy or force of prana, is considered responsible for the body’s life, heat, health and maintenance. One may question, if prana is abundant, then why do we lack it? If we do not know how to get prana, to spend it wisely (i.e. we waste it), we will not know how to recharge ourselves.
How to increase Prana?
Prana comes through the five elements of nature, which are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether.
We can increase prana through the Earth element by living in nature (for example, camping), walking on earth barefoot, touching the earth (gardening), hugging trees, looking at mountains, eating fresh picked fruits and vegetables, living in natural houses; and above all respecting nature.
By drinking clean pure water that is free of chemicals and toxins, we increase our prana through the Water element. Swimming in oceans, rivers, streams also increases prana.
Spending some time daily outdoors in the sunshine, or even opening windows and doors to let the sunshine in increases prana through the Fire element. It is also important to drink warm water and eat warm food; and cook food in flame stoves if possible.
The main source of prana is through breathing (the Air element). Having a consistent pranayama (breathing exercises) practice, inhaling pure fresh air, living in fresh air, airing out rooms, and staying away from polluted environments are some ways we can increase prana.
The Ether element is associated with thoughts. We are all living in an ocean of thoughts. Chanting mantras, being in a positive atmosphere (for example, places of worship) and keeping good company (satsanga) increases prana and helps us connect to a higher vibration of thinking.
Make the right the choices
A healthy yogi always knows or has a pulse on his/her level of prana and chooses a lifestyle that is balanced and wholesome. We need to make wise choices in our daily activities that will make our lives more vibrant and alive. Sometimes, a little shift such as this goes a long way in reshaping our lives, giving us endless abundant energy, and allowing us to regain the quality of life that we were meant to live.
To learn more about Prana and Pranayama, visit the Ashram for a Beginners Course!