Behind all disease there is an imbalance of prana. Ayurveda is sometimes referred to as energy medicine, because Ayurvedic treatment of disease means treating your prana, your life force and vitality. Diagnosis entails looking at your underlying energy and motivation, not just your skin, digestion, weight or whatever system, organ or body tissue is not right physically. And treatments to restore prana include everything from fresh food and herbal medicines to more subtle therapies like meditation.
Prana is our energy, the force behind life. And everything we do in life is transmitting, receiving or depleting this energy; breathing, eating, sleeping, moving, standing, sitting, talking, thinking, feeling, sensing. Prana is what links our body, mind and spirit, so they act together as a single organism.
Our physical body is a manifestation of prana. So the way we think, feel, breathe and perceive the world is a reflection of the state of our underlying energy. We can also tell from our behaviour, such as our patterns of eating, exercising and resting, and how appropriate or inappropriate for health these patterns are.
So check in with yourself. How are you thinking, feeling, breathing, perceiving? Are you eating, exercising and resting in ways that are appropriate for your body? Or not? Are you keeping going on adrenaline, or functioning from a place of full and balanced energy?
HOW AYURVEDIC TREATMENTS WORK ON PRANA
All Ayurvedic treatments are actually ways of treating prana, including nutrition, herbal medicine, physical therapies, yoga, pranayama and meditation. Prana is not the breath, nor is it oxygen; oxygen carries prana, so we obtain prana through the breath. The most instant way to recharge your prana is to breathe correctly.
Our food and our water also contain prana (depending on their quality, of course). The prana from fresh, digestible, wholesome foods is absorbed via the large intestine, or colon. So the amount of prana we can absorb, and therefore how healthy and vibrant we feel, depends on the health of our lungs and our colon.
• Food contains prana, which we absorb as long as the food is fresh, correctly prepared, correctly consumed, and of a type we can digest.
• Herbs correct the movement of prana and its functions, such as digestion, elimination and sweating,
• Work on the physical body, such as Ayurvedic massage, loosens blockages of prana in the muscles and bones. Marma point therapy loosens blockages of prana in the nadis, the channels in the energetic body through which prana flows.
• Touch is the sense through which prana is conveyed, transmitting prana from the therapist to the patient. The healer’s prana awakens the prana of the patient and encourages it to heal.
• Pranayama (exercises to manage our breathing in specific ways), when done correctly, directly brings in prana. However, pranayama done incorrectly can cause imbalance and disease, so always be properly trained, in person (not online), by a yoga teacher or Ayurvedic practitioner.
• Meditation opens the prana of the mind and mantra chanting energises it.
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 warm, supportive and practical approach.