Prana is the vital energy of the universe. It is a key concept in Ayurveda and yoga. Every living being is alive due to prana. We cannot live without prana. It is what holds creation together. We cannot be healthy without the correct and positive flow of prana around the body.
Prana is both physical and mental energy. It is essential for life and for health: it gives vitality to the physical body and gives us the power to think. Different traditions have different names for prana: the vital force, ki, chi, and simply ‘energy’. Good flow of prana is necessary to facilitate meditation and healing.
Prana enters and exits the body following the movement of the breath. It is associated with the breath, it rides on the breath, but it is not the breath. This is the nature of prana: movement.
HOW WE LOSE OUR PRANA
We lose prana by eating contaminated, artificial foods, drinking alcohol, smoking, being a couch potato, taking in too much stimulation for our senses, and many other of today’s habits. Imbalanced prana becomes imbalanced Vata.
HOW TO GENERATE PRANA
Pranayama is one of the most important parts of a healthy Ayurvedic life. We can generate prana by eating fresh uncontaminated foods, drinking pure water, and through pranayama (yogic methods for the controlling the breath). Pranayama also develops buddhi (our capacity for discrimation; our ability to make the right choices).
Never attempt pranayama without being taught how. Dr Vasant Lad, one of the foremost Ayurvedic doctors living today, says that pranayama alone has the power to cure many diseases – but that practised incorrectly it can also cause them. Therefore never attempt pranayama without being properly shown; speak to your yoga teacher or Ayurvedic practitioner about learning the correct techniques.
And when following your Ayurvedic health plan, eat the right foods for your body and digestion, take your herbs, do your asana, walk in nature, but – as my Ayurvedic teacher Atreya always used to tell us – NEVER NEGLECT your pranayama!
Jacqui Gibbons is an Ayurvedic health coach at Triyoga, London's biggest and best yoga studio. She has eight years' experience helping busy London professionals to better health through Ayurveda and has a practical, supportive and realistic approach.