The Secret Life of Prana: A Beginner’s Guide to Energy in Yoga
Are you an Ashtanga yoga practitioner looking to deepen your knowledge of energy in yoga? Look no further! In this post, we’ll cover the basics of prana, prana vayus, nadis, and how they relate to Hatha yoga. Let’s get started!
What is Prana?
Prana is the life force energy that flows within us. Think of it as the gas that fuels your car. We extract prana from various sources, including food, light, and love. According to yoga teacher Gregor Maehle, although there is only one prana, it is in different locations, flows in different nadis, and has different functions. These various types of prana are called by different names.
Prana vayus are the movements or functions of prana. There are five prana vayus, each with a different function. They are:
- Prana Vayu – located in the chest, it governs inhalation and is responsible for bringing in new energy.
- Apana Vayu – located in the lower abdomen, it governs exhalation and is responsible for eliminating waste.
- Samana Vayu – located in the navel area, it governs digestion and assimilation.
- Udana Vayu – located in the throat, it governs speech and expression.
- Vyana Vayu – located throughout the body, it governs circulation and movement.
Nadis are the subtle pathways or channels through which prana flows. Tradition says there are 72,000 to 300,000 nadis within and surrounding the physical body. Nadis are said to channel prana to every cell of the body, keeping us alive. There are three primary nadis:
- Ida Nadi – energy channel beginning and ending on the left side of sushumna; lunar, feminine, cooling.
- Pingala Nadi – energy channel beginning and ending on the right side of sushumna; solar, masculine, stimulating.
- Sushumna Nadi – central energy channel, said to be the path to enlightenment.
These nadis spiral around the sushumna, crossing at every chakra, ultimately all three meeting at the ajna (command) chakra.
Hatha Yoga and Prana
So, how do Hatha yoga and prana relate? Hatha yoga is a practice that aims to balance the flow of prana in the body. Through various techniques, including asana, pranayama, and meditation, practitioners aim to awaken the dormant energy within them and allow it to flow freely.
Working with Subtle Energy
There are various techniques for working with subtle energy, including:
- Pranayama – breathing exercises that aim to balance the flow of prana in the body.
- Asana – yoga postures that aim to open up the nadis and allow prana to flow freely.
- Meditation – a practice that aims to still the mind and allow prana to flow freely.
Yoga practices aim to liberate energy by removing blockages in the nadis and allowing prana to flow freely. This can lead to increased physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as spiritual growth.
We hope this beginner’s guide to energy in yoga has been helpful! Remember, prana is the life force energy that flows within us, and Hatha yoga is a practice that aims to balance the flow of prana in the body. Through various techniques, including pranayama, asana, and meditation, we can work with subtle energy and liberate it to achieve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Now, go forth and practice with a newfound understanding of prana and its role in yoga! Namaste.