Prana – Your Life Force

The word prana comes from Sanskrit and literally means life energy, life force or breath and can be compared conceptually with qi in traditional Chinese medicine.

This breath of life permeates the entire body and is most easily experienced through the flow of breath. In Ayurveda and yoga, it is believed that a person’s health and well-being depend on a balanced flow of prana. When prana is blocked or weakened, physical and mental ailments can occur. Therefore, many Ayurvedic treatments and yoga exercises aim to strengthen prana and allow it to flow freely through the body.

From a conventional perspective, prana could be described as the body’s ability to regulate itself and remain in balance, known as homeostasis. The healthier we are and the more vitality we have, the faster we can regulate and regenerate.

The amount of prana available is also reflected in a person’s charisma. There are people who really shine and others who seem less lively, for example during a longer period of illness or in times of great stress.

People who work in the healing professions in particular have to provide a lot of prana, as they are often surrounded by people who have less prana available at the time. This is why burnouts are particularly common in these professions if self-care and therefore the recharging of prana is neglected over a longer period of time. Prana can be constantly regenerated through a suitable lifestyle, while persistent unfavorable behavior causes the energy to continue to diminish, which then manifests itself in tiredness and exhaustion.

Prana can be found in all living things, not just in us humans. Fresh fruit and vegetables harvested from your own garden, for example, contain a lot of prana and are therefore particularly tasty.

Conventional fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, on the other hand, often taste much bland because they are grown, often harvested unripe and stored for a long time. Ayurveda therefore recommends eating as fresh and regional as possible and not reheating food in order to absorb as much prana as possible. Another example is fresh flowers: at the beginning they still contain a lot of life energy and stand upright, but over time they lose their prana as they are separated from the root and wither.

Prana from the perspective of Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, prana is divided into different functions and also directions of movement in the body. A distinction is made between 5 vayus (winds) with their own tasks within the organism:

  1. Prana Vayu: controls breathing and the flow of breath and forms the basis for the absorption of fresh vital energy.
  2. Udana Vayu: Controls communication, expression, but also memory and performance.
  3. Samana Vayu: regulates metabolism and digestion, converting food into energy.
  4. Apana Vayu: is responsible for the excretion and elimination of metabolic waste products from the body, such as urine and stool.
  5. Vyana Vayu: Distributes prana throughout the body via the cardiovascular system and ensures harmony and balance.

The state of prana can be assessed particularly well using pulse diagnostics. The face and tongue also reveal a great deal about a person’s energy balance. If someone is in a state of emptiness and is very exhausted, the pulse is very thin and shows little resistance when measured. The tongue also often appears sunken in the middle, especially in the rear third, and lacks elasticity.

How we can absorb prana

Prana can mainly be absorbed through the 5 elements, each of which represents very different qualities:

Earth (Prithivi) corresponds to our food

Water (Apas) stands for hydration

Fire (Tejas) is equivalent to daylight

Air (Vayu) is the air we breathe

Ether (Akasha) represents the power that we recharge through community, social action and special places

Prana can therefore be supplied in everyday life by maintaining a balanced, health-promoting lifestyle, as recommended by Ayurveda for thousands of years.

This includes a balanced diet that is adapted to your personal constitution, made from fresh ingredients and enjoyed in peace. Water also plays a central role. Our body consists of around 70% water, which is why it is essential to drink high-quality water in order to optimally support the metabolic processes in the body. The best water is therefore spring water, which is brought to the surface without pressure and contains valuable minerals as it flows through numerous layers of rock.

In Ayurveda, water is often consumed in the form of hot water that has been boiled for around 15-20 minutes. The heat increases the blood flow in the intestines and therefore the digestive capacity, and the boiling process causes the water to lose its cluster structure, giving it a more subtle quality and therefore a greater ability to react with metabolic end products.

In addition to food and drink, sunlight also plays an important role in absorbing prana. Everyone knows the soothing, invigorating feeling during and after a walk when your eyes and skin are touched by light and fresh air flows through your lungs. Even when the sun is hiding, the light is still enough to have a positive effect on hormone levels and a healthy circadian rhythm. And if that’s not enough, or if you feel like you’re falling into a low mood in winter, you should consider purchasing a daylight lamp with a high lux level as well as a sufficient vitamin D level.

Breathing has a very special role to play, as it is the energy source that supplies our body with oxygen and at the same time forms a tangible interface between body and mind. Deep, conscious breathing can help to activate prana and calm the mind and plays a major role in yoga in the form of pranayama. Working with the breath has become very popular in recent years and is practiced in a wide variety of forms.

Pranayama is used to control and harmonize the life energy and pursues spiritual, energetic and health-related goals. Pranayama is often practiced as part of a more comprehensive yogic practice to expand awareness and promote health and should therefore always be practiced under guidance at the beginning.

This is to be distinguished from the generic term Breathwork, a more therapeutic form of breathwork, which serves to reduce stress, improve mental clarity and concentration, as well as trauma management and general well-being.

Conscious breathwork combines beautifully with meditation, where directing prana is often used as a means of concentration and spiritual development. Directing attention to the breath or to specific energy centers in the body can help to calm the mind and create a deeper connection to the life force within.

The last point to mention is interpersonal relationships, which can be assigned to the element of ether. Even if it may sound abstract at first, relationships can nourish and build us up or strain and weaken us. Therefore, pay close attention to who you surround yourself with and how you feel before, during and after a meeting. Uplifting encounters give you stimulation, strength and inspiration, while there are also encounters that drain you of energy and have a tiring effect. Keep these contacts to a minimum and listen carefully to what your body is telling you: does it feel tight or wide inside you?

In conclusion, you can always refuel and regenerate your prana through Ayurvedic life principles. In addition to the points mentioned above, this also includes sufficient sleep, exercise, nature and everything that gives you real pleasure – it is best to invite these things into your life every day.

© Maharishi Ayurveda Private Clinic Bad Ems

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