What Is Prana?
Prana is a Sanskrit word which can be translated as “life force energy”.
It is a subtle energy attached to oxygen, and is known by other names in different cultural traditions. In Chinese Medicine, it is chi with for indigenous cultures, it is spirit.
Our most immediate relationship with prana (life force) is through the breath, which carries prana in and out of the body. For example, you may have noticed how just 5 minutes of long, deep breathing immediately changes your mood and energy levels.
Since pranic energy is very subtle, it may only be properly understood by those who have experienced it, such as those with regularly practicing yoga, qi gong, meditation, martial arts or energy healing.
In ayurveda, it is also recognized as the subtle energy of vata dosha, the air and ether elements which govern all movement and inspiration in the body.
Signs of strong pranic energy include:
Positive energy and enthusiasm
Intelligence, grounded actions, sensibility, wisdom
Spontaneous, graceful movement
Presence and social impact
Actions are in synchronicity with a broader order (sense of timelessness or right relationship with time)
Signs of weak or imbalanced prana include:
Fatigue and lethargy
Lack of willpower and motivation
Scattered mind and ineffective actions
Close-mindedness or unwillingness to change
Congestion (blocked pranic channels in the upper part of the body)
Inability to sleep (imbalance of prana in the upper part of the body)
Chronic constipation (imbalanced prana in the lower part of the body)
Feeling short on time or bored (inappropriate relationship with time)
Being swept up in social trends (e.g. influenced by media, advertising, confusion about purpose and life direction)
If you feel that your pranic force is weak, please don’t be discouraged. Just turning your attention toward the cultivation of prana can do wonders for you.
It’s also natural to experience imbalances in prana in the face of stress, illness, travel, or at the change of seasons.
5 Ways To Boost Pranic Energy
Favour freshly cooked foods
Prana is highest in foods that are healthy and alive, or freshly cooked. For example, a freshly picked apple contains a high amount of prana and would give you a burst of vital energy. Meanwhile an apple cereal bar contains very little prana, and will leave you feeling unsatisfied and searching for more nourishment.
The rise in obesity and overconsumption today is largely related to our dependence on commercially prepared foods, which lack prana. Without the vital life force, these foods leave us feeling tired, weak and unsatisfied, creating a dependence on stimulants (sugar, alcohol, caffeine) and overeating, and break our link with our natural intelligence.
To boost prana in your diet, try to avoid frozen, commercially prepared, stale foods, and leftovers. Instead, try to cook at least once a day, favour a plant-based diet. 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, or control of prana) serve to purify the subtle channels of the body (called nadis) and balance the flow of prana in the body.
A daily practice of pranayama has also been shown to boost the mood and immunity, calm the mind, detoxify the blood, and bring lustre to the skin.
If you are not yet familiar with pranayamas, you may wish to explore our Intro to Meditation and Spiritual Energetics Course to help you get established in a daily practice. This course has yielded great benefits for many in higher levels of energy, mental calm, and focus.
3. Daily Yoga Practice
A daily yoga practice also supports the flow of prana in the body-mind and is greatly beneficial for the nervous system, the lymphatic system and the movement of energy through the chakras (energy centres).
Just 20 minutes per day of simple asanas -- either in the morning or before bed -- can quickly show benefits in your energy levels and state of mind.
You can also choose to boost prana through dance, qi going, or other types of subtle energy practice.
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. If you work in an environment where the air is stagnant (e.g. an office), be sure to take frequent walks outdoors and decorate with a few air-filtering plants.
5. Clear Congestion From the Body
To ensure the proper flow of prana, address any congestion in the body, specifically in the nasal passages and in the colon.
Since the nose is a direct pathway to the brain, congested nasal passages have a direct influence on our ability to think clearly and have strong vital energy. Ayurveda has many practices to help us clear chronic nasal congesiton, such as kapha-reducing diet, and the use of medicated oils (nasya oil) in the asal passages and/or regular facial steaming.
Chronic constipation (less than 1 bowel movement per day) is a common malady that can be treated with steady changes to diet and lifestyle. 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.
6. Right Impressions
You can also support the flow of prana in your body-mind by decreasing the amount of time you spend in stressful, overly stimulating environments.
Instead, favour contact with nature and your favourite sensory therapies. This may include writing, music, singing, dancing, art, self-oleation, hot baths, pleasing natural aromas and decorating your home with fresh flowers or plants.
As much as possible, try to reduce time spent in anger, frustration, unpleasant company and using electronics, which disturb the flow of prana in the body-mind.
You will also benefit by favouring the company of people, ideas and environments that inspire you. As social beings, we naturally mimic the behaviours and attitudes of those we spend the most time with, emulating our highest frequency influences. Choose positive people who help inspire and uplift you, spend more time in nature, and set aside time each day to develop your own authentic self-connection.
Your energy will change completely, and you will surely experience new levels of creativity, restful awareness, and subtle knowing.
About the Author
Briya (Rachel) Freeman facilitates courses in meditation, ayurveda and modern spirituality. She is passionate about exploring the potentials of human consciousness in a way that respects, unites and transcends global culture and tradition.
Briya is a long-term student of Berdhanya Swami Tierra, a female mystic and shaman of South American origin. She also holds studies in ayurveda at Anjali School of Ayurveda (Kerala, India) and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Ottawa. She is the creator of Ayurveda for Vibrant Living, a practical exploration of the fundamentals of the science of self-healing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at briyafreeman.com