What Is Prana?
Prana is a Sanskrit word which can be translated as “life force energy”, or the energy that unifies the whole. It is a vital energy which permeates everything. By other names, prana is known as chi (or qi) in Chinese Medicine or spirit in indigenous cultures.
In ayurveda, prana is recognized as the subtle energy of vata dosha, the air and ether elements which govern movement and inspiration in the body.
Signs of Prana
When prana is strong, its signs are visible within the body-mind, including:
- A positive mindset and enthusiasm
- Grounded actions, sensibility
- Spontaneous, graceful movements
- Presence, social impact
- Actions which are in synchronicity with a broader order (right relationship with time)
Signs of weak or imbalanced prana include:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Lack of willpower and motivation
- Scattered mind / ineffective actions
- Defensiveness, close-mindedness, unwillingness to change
- Congestion (blocked prana in the upper body)
- Inability to sleep (imbalanced prana in the upper body)
- Chronic constipation (imbalanced prana in the lower body)
- Influenced by social trends (e.g. media, advertising, confusion about life direction)
If you feel that your pranic force is weak, don’t be discouraged. It’s natural to experience imbalances in prana in the face of stress, illness or at the change of seasons.
Sources of Prana
- The Breath: Prana is carried within the molecule of oxygen. Pranayamas, which are yogic breathing exercises which combine breath and focus, are particularly energizing.
- Contact with Earth and the atmosphere
- Contact with others (hugs, emotional connection, sexual contact)
There are several ways to build a stronger pranic force within your body mind.
7 Ways To Boost Prana In Your Daily Life
1. Favour Freshly Cooked Foods
Prana is highest in foods that are raw or freshly cooked. For example, a freshly picked apple contains a high amount of prana, while a packaged container of applesauce contains very little prana.
Foods lacking prana are less satisfying to the body-mind, and more difficult to digest, leading to sluggish digestion. Low-prana foods will leave you feeling unsatisfied, like “something is missing”, and the tendency is to eat more than you need to.
Foods which lack prana leave you feeling tired, unsatisfied, unmotivated, moody and lethargic. They contribute to habits of overeating and to dependencies on stimulants (e.g. sugar, alcohol, caffeine). The overconsumption (and rise in obesity) that we are seeing today is largely a result of our dependence on the commercially prepared foods, which lack the prana (life force energy) that nature intended.
To boost prana in your diet, try to cook fresh foods at least once a day, favouring freshly cooked vegetables, grains, pulses, soups and stews. As much as possible, reduce/avoid frozen, commercially prepared, stale foods, and leftovers. Raw foods can also be used in moderation, depending on your constitution and the season.
You will be surprised by how much more energy you have!
2. Yogic Breathing Practices (Pranayama)
Yogic breathing exercises (called pranayama) are the fastest way to boost prana in the body-mind. These breathing exercises serve to balance the flow of prana in the body ad purify the subtle energy channels (called nadis), as well as boost the mood, calm the mind, detoxify the blood and bring lustre to the skin.
Just 5-10 minutes per day of breathing exercises such as alternate nostril breathing or ujaai breath can make a major difference in how you move, feel and think.
If you are not yet familiar with pranayamas, the course Practical Awakening can help you to get established in a simple and sustainable daily practice.
3. Daily Yoga Practice
Adding 15-20 minutes of simple asanas (yoga postures) to your daily routine strengthens the flow of prana in the body, moves stagnation, and boosts the lymphatic system, the immune system, the digestive system, the nervous system and the movement of energy through the chakras (energy centres).
4. Fresh Air
Exposure to the sun, fresh air and moonlight all enhance the prana (vital force) in our bodies. Early morning walks are especially beneficial, due to the high amount of prana in the atmosphere at this time.
During long winter months, you can refresh the air quality by occasionally opening the windows in your home, and by decorating with air-filtering plants.
If you work in an office where the air is stagnant, taking short walks outdoors will help boost mood, energy and brain power.
5. Clear Congestion From the Body
To ensure the proper flow of prana through the body, you will want to address any chronic congestion in the body, specifically in the nasal passages and in the colon.
Congested nasal passages have a direct influence on how your mind works (since the nose is a direct pathway to the brain). It can be addressed by adopting a kapha-reducing diet, applying medicated oil (nasya oil) and/or cleansing the nasal passages with a neti pot.
Chronic constipation (e.g. less than 1 bowel movement per day) can be treated with steady changes to diet and lifestyle. Be sure to drink plenty of warm water throughout the day, and take 1-2 teaspoons of triphala powder in warm water before bed. For more acute cases, you can take 1-2 teaspoons of castor oil or ground flax seeds in warm water before bed.
To assist with any type of chronic congestion, a seasonal detoxification program (panchakarma) can also be of great assistance.
6. Self-Care, Right Impressions & Environment
Contact with nature, beauty, supportive relationships and sensory therapies all enhance the harmonious flow of prana in your body-mind. This may include writing, playing music, singing, dancing, art, self-oleation, hot baths, nature walks, pleasing natural aromas and cleaning or decorating your home.
As much as possible, decrease the amount of time you spend in stressful, overly stimulating environments, which disturb the natural flow of prana through your channels.
Regular meditation cultivates self-awareness based in neutrality, compassion and universality.
Meditation also serves to release subconscious memories, stresses and impressions, improving the flow of energy through the nadis (energy channels) in the body. This regular purification of the body-mind makes it easier to respond to life’s challenges with wisdom, tenacity and compassion (rather than stress, fear or anger).
Regular meditation also serves to strengthen your connection with your true inner knowing, making it easier to focus on your goals and to be at the right place at the right time.
Through breath, nature, movement, right environments and meditation, we support the movement of prana through the channels of the body, making it easier for you to participate in the world around you with integrity, awareness, ease and enthusiasm.
About The Author
Briya Freeman has been facilitating courses in meditation, stress-reduction and self-healing since 2011.
She primarily draws her inspiration from Berdhanya Swami Tierra, a female mystic and shaman, and an extensive background in traditional healing arts from various world traditions.
Briya is committed to promoting self-awareness as a vehicle for more artful and inspired living. She currently resides in the Gatineau Hills in Quebec, Canada.