As humans, we have always been overly obsessed with the senses or the physical organs of our body. It does make sense because it is easy to understand what you can see and feel. For example, our eyes guide us towards a vision, our skin lets us touch, our ears hear anything that is audible and our brain works everything out.
But did you know, underneath all of these physical organs that keep us going throughout the day, there is something more central, something more vital, something unseen that governs our mind, body, and soul?
This is an energy that flows not only within us but also outside us, universally, and gives rise to an essential life-force, called "Prana". You may have heard this term if you have been to a yoga studio or seen yoga videos, but may not have been able to understand it fully.
At the outset, it is difficult to understand Prana, primarily because it cannot be seen. But do not worry. That is why I am here to explain through this post all about Prana and Pranic Energy, including the types of Prana, the Koshas (don't worry if this term is new to you), and most importantly, how to benefit from this life-giving energy that surrounds us all the time. Keep reading to know more.
What Is Prana?Prana is a Sanskrit word, prana meaning breath, life-force, or vital principle, all of them derived from universal energy that flows through every living or non-living thing. It is the power that manifests itself through atoms and molecules and then enables everything to carry out the processes of creating and sustaining life. Although Prana is found in Hindu philosophy, similar concepts are seen in China, Japan, Australia, Greek, and so on and go by the names Chi, Qui, Ki, Mana, and Pneuma.
What Is Pranic Energy?The vital breath that we inhale from our life-giving surroundings gives rise to the primary energy that flows through our bodies. It is this energy that creates life and aligns our mind, body, and soul. In an ideal person, this energy is balanced and flows through the various nadis, which are virtual pathways within our beings, to keep us healthy and calm. We are all born with this energy and it is up to us and our surroundings to keep this life-force flowing with ease.
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What Are 5 Types of Prana?I hope that now you have got a primary understanding of what Prana is. But wait before you get ready to venture into Prana Energy Healing. There is still a lot more to understand about this vital energy.
Pranic energy is further categorized into five types, mainly based on the direction in which the energy flows. And as we are talking about directions, we need to refer to a specific kind of energy here, which is, wind. Wind, in Sanskrit, is called "Vayu" and thus, the different types of Pranas are also called the five Vayus. Let us delve into each of these a bit more.
It is the main Vayu that governs all things that we take in, for example, the air that we breathe, the food that we eat, the water that we drink, the touch that we perceive, and so on. Its direction is forward, which means it gets everything moving forward or sets them in motion.
Apana VayuApana Vayu flows in the opposite direction of the Prana Vayu, and so, its job is to expel things from the body and the mind. Think of everything you throw out of your body, including bodily fluid, excreta, reproductive fluid, and the air that you breathe out. Apana Vayu cleanses your mind as well by expelling negative emotions.
Udana VayuIt is the Vayu that helps us grow by moving upward. Think about how a child grows tall, or how a baby learns to stand up. These are governed by the Udana Vayu. It is not just about physical growth, either. It also helps our minds to evolve and our characters to form.
Samana VayuSamana Vayu is the energy that keeps us balanced by moving outward to inward. It helps in absorption at different spheres of our body and mind. In the gut, it helps in the digestion of food while in the lungs, it aids in the purification of the air that we breathe in. In our minds, it helps in processing our emotions and harnessing the good experiences, creating memories.
Vyana VayuVyana Vayu is all about circulation. Hence, it moves from the central part of the body towards its outer sheath. It takes everything the Samana Vayu has helped absorb and circulates them to feed the body and the soul.
For example, the nutrition absorbed after the digestion of food is carried to different cells by Vyana Vayu. Similarly, the positive emotions retained by the mind are circulated within the soul to maintain its calmness.
The KoshasOkay, now it's time to learn a new term. So, what exactly are Koshas? The word "Kosha" means sheath. If you noticed in the earlier section, I did mention "Sheaths" once.
While sheath means an encasement or cover, Koshas are not exactly physically sheaths. Well, except for the first Kosha. The others are more to do with the various ways our bodies and minds are protected through the life-force.
These Koshas are again of five types. Let us see what they are.
This is the actual physical sheath, which is, the body. The body is kept alive by the food that we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and so on.
Pranamaya KoshaHere, we again go back to the core meaning of Prana, which is, breath. This is the Kosha that is governed by Prana, which we discussed in detail when we talked about the Vayus.
Manomaya KoshaOur senses make up for this sheath. Whatever we touch, see, smell, hear, or speak leaves an impression on our active minds. All of these senses are governed by this Kosha.
Vijnanamaya KoshaThis Kosha deals with our brain and its activities. In short, this is the sheath of our intelligence. Our active mind that processes and deciphers information makes this sheath.
Anandamaya KoshaNot all impressions created by our sensory organs convert into memories. Only some of them are. Similarly, all kinds of knowledge that our brain processes are not retained by it. Only some are. These few impressions and memories channel through our subconsciousness and enter into our inner minds or our souls. This last Kosha is made of this deeper mind.
How to Increase Pranic Energy?Alright, so there has probably been a lot of information on Pranic energy and Koshas on this page. Now you know that everyone has Pranic energy and the balance of this energy keeps us well.
But how do you achieve that state of balance? Is there a way to increase Pranic Energy? Is it something anyone can do? Is it easy? Well, yes, it is something anyone can do, but no, it is not easy. Or at least, it is not easy at the first glance. But with practice, everything is possible to achieve.
So, how do you do it? There are a few different ways to channel this Prana life force energy effectively. Here are the most effective ones. Let us take a look at these well-known methods.
PranayamaPranayama is considered to be the most effective way to control and increase the flow of your Pranic energy. This Yogic form of deep breathing helps cleanse the pathways through which the life-force flows, in turn, clearing your mind and balancing your soul.
One of the most tried and tested Pranayama techniques to increase this vital energy is called "Nadi Shodhana". In this method, alternately breathing through the left and the right nostrils creates the perfect balance in Prana.
Another great Pranayama technique is called Mula Bandha. In this process, the Prana and the Apana Vayus are pulled towards each other and united, giving rise to Kundalini, or the inner fire around the navel region. This union of the two Vayus purifies the Pranamaya Kosha and directs the energy towards positivity and enlightenment.
YogaYoga is not just a way to keep your body healthy but also works effectively to channelize the flow of Prana. Certain yoga postures that build your parasympathetic nervous system help you relieve stress and obtain a calm mind.
Once your mind is calm, it is then possible to control the direction of the Vayus through which your Pranic energy flows. Focus on a yoga practice that involves more sitting and supine positions to increase the flow of the vital force.
MeditationYou are probably already aware that meditation helps you calm and declutter your mind. When you practice mindfulness day in and day out, your mind becomes as clear as a blue sky.
Through this clarity, it becomes easier for Prana to move swiftly from the outer periphery to the inner subconsciousness (remember Samana Vayu?). Thus, a balance is created not only in the active mind but also in the deepest parts of our soul.
Healthy DietWhen I say "healthy", I am not talking about any fad diets or weight-loss programs that have gained immense popularity these days. Instead, I am talking about food that nourishes and heals. Invest in good-quality, organic, and whole foods and remove junk from your platter.
Remember that fruits and vegetables derive their life-force from the sun, which is the universal source of vital energy. Consuming these fruits and vegetables is one way of welcoming this vital energy into our beings.
LoveIt should be obvious, but unfortunately, it is not. Love, sadly, is the most underestimated and underused tool when it comes to increasing Pranic energy.
All the negative energy that we need to get rid of can only happen if we choose to love ourselves and share that love with others. Love that is boundless and selfless is the perfect way to cleanse our systems and allow Prana to flow effortlessly through all our nadis.
In the rat race of life, we often forget to connect with our inner selves. We forget that there is a consciousness within our beings that needs constant nourishment. Even though the universal Pranic energy or the vital life force continues to nurture us, we fail to give it the proper medium to flow unhindered.
Knowing about how this life-force works and the directions it takes to detoxify our mind, body, and soul can help immensely in leading a healthy and stress-free life. Adopting techniques such as Pranayama, Yoga, Meditation, and others can bring happiness to our minds by giving Prana free rein to do its job of creating positivity in and around each one of us.
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