To change something we must alter the energy which creates it. This fact is true in the practice of Yoga. To bring about positive changes in the body and mind, we must understand the energy through which they work. This is called ‘Prana’ in Sanskrit, meaning primary energy. It is sometimes translated as breath or vital force though it’s much more than that.
In Yoga the concept of ‘Prana’ is very scientific. When we speak of Prana we do not mean breath, air or oxygen. Precisely and scientifically speaking, Prana means the original life force.
Prana is constructed of the syllables ‘pra’ and ‘an’. ‘An’, means movement and ‘pra’ is a prefix, meaning constant. Therefore, Prana means constant motion. This constant motion commences in the human body as soon as it is conceived in the mother’s womb. It is therefore a type of energy responsible for the body’s life, heat and maintenance.
Prana energy is the very essence that keeps us alive. The quality of everything we do including breathing, eating, moving, feeling, thinking, playing, working, communicating etc. –all depends on how we manage our lives and our energy. It is essential in helping us maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit.
The quality and quantity of Prana and the way it flows through the nadis (energy channels) and chakras (energy centers) determines one’s state of mind.
‘Pranayama’ is the control of Prana through the breath! So, when you see people sitting cross legged, practicing slow mindful breathing, remember that they are adding quality and years to their life. Sometimes even more than the practice of Asanas or physical postures! It’s almost like charging oneself so much that one stays in a constant healthy state of joy!
How to practice Pranayama?
Let’s find out next week!
Neelanjana Bharadwaj – Yoga Expert