By Diana Ross, E-RYT500, Certified Yoga Therapist & Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga.
So what is PRANA and why is it so dang important?
I know I keep harping on the importance of breathing mindfully and giving it great respect for its powers. After all, it is what sustains us. Without it, there is no us. Period. It literally can change the course of your actions, feelings and outcomes. It will make you calm. It will allow for better decisions because it creates clarity of mind, and it goes to work deep within our physical form creating balance. But let’s try to understand why.
Here is a little background information about why the breath is so important to our quality of life.Yoga breathing is called – Pranayama – the “Knowledge of Life Energy.” Breathing offers life; without we would cease to exist. Breathing is that important. What is prana? Prana (प्राण, prāṇa) is the Sanskrit word for “life force”; in yoga. Prana – Pra means continuous and na means movement. Prana in the form of energy exists everywhere, both in and outside the body. It weakens in the body by wrong action, and increases by right action. Examples are in the quality of air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat, and even the company we keep.
Our Thoughts are the finest and highest actions of Prana. What we may call instinct or unconscious thought is the lowest plane of action. If a bug stings us, we respond with our hand instinctively striking it. This is one expression of thought. All spontaneous reflex actions of the body belong to this plane of thought, the unconscious. The conscious thought is – I reason, I judge, I think, I see the pros and cons of certain things. However, this is not all. Believe it but the mind can exist on a still higher plane, the superconscious. When the mind has reached this state, it is called Samâdhi — perfect concentration, superconsciousness — it goes beyond the limits of reason, and comes face to face with facts which no instinct or reason can ever know. Hum – I wonder if this may take a lot of practice, and wisdom.
The most obvious appearance of Prana in the human body is demonstrated in the motion of our lungs. If that stops, within minutes all the other manifestations of force in the body will also immediately stop. Pranayama really means controlling this motion of the lungs and this motion is associated with the breath. Not that the breath is producing prana; on the contrary – prana is producing the breath. This motion draws in the air by pump action. The Prana is moving the lungs, the movement of the lungs draws in the air. Consequently, Pranayama is not breathing, but controlling that muscular power which moves the lungs. This dynamic muscular power which goes out through the nerves to the muscles and then to the lungs, making them move and expand is the Prana. This is what we have to control in the practice of Pranayama. When the Prana has become controlled, then we immediately find that all the other actions of the Prana in the body will slowly come under control too. Starting with the thought waves of the mind. I will go as far and say that when we draw the breath in deeply we defuse the stress hormones, like cortisol which is produced by the adrenal gland and is released in response to stress and encourage the GABA levels to rise thus the outcome of inner calm. GABA is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. It plays a role in regulating neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system.
To sum this up:
- The more enthusiastic or engage in life, the more prana is put into play and when less enthusiastic energy you feel lack of interest or wanting change.
- Prana manifests itself as mental power, and can only be controlled by mental means. Again if you can control the breath the mind will also come under control.
- Prana is intermixed with the air we breathe in. Oxygen is the carrier of this pranic energy, and negative prana is no air.
- When we bring the breath under control (meaning we focus on the inhales and exhales) our mind will not wander. It is then the mind is brought under control. If the mind wanders so does the breath.
I highly recommend sitting in a quiet place and learning how to enjoy breathing deeply.
You will feel a shift in attitude quite soon.
Breathe on my friends.
About Diana Ross: E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at email@example.com if you have questions.
- Root Lock KRIYA Breathing Yoga Pose for Breast Cancer (breastcanceryogablog.com)
- How Important is Your Yoga Practice in Breast Cancer Recovery? (breastcanceryogablog.com)
- Common TriYoga Terms and Phrases Translated (triyogaphillyblog.wordpress.com)