It is at the heart of the practice of yoga, but it is also an essential part of our lives and our vitality. Prana is an ally of postures but also a friend of a relaxed body and mind. What is prana and what are its origins? Where to find him?
Prana in civilizations
The Sanskrit prana term refers to both the breath, the energy it contains and its organic manifestation. In the Vedic tradition, prana is a subtle energy, a vibration that is found all around us and within us. It’s the energy of the living.
This notion is found not only in the ancient principles of India but also in other cultures. Indeed, there are concepts similar to prana that have various and varied origins:
- In Polynesia, Mana refers to an invisible, motor and unifying force
- In the Iroquois, Onanda refers to an abstract entity present in everything: humans, animals, the elements that surround us
- the Hebrew word Ruah is used to name the breath, the wind, but also the calm air, the aura
- Pneuma comes from ancient Greek: it is the breath, an airy spirit to which some doctors associated life and disease. Pneuma is also the name that the Stoics gave to a spiritual principle, a fifth element. In this context, one can make the link with akasha, ether, the fifth element of the Vedic tradition.
- Finally, in China, qi (or chi) is considered the primal energy, it is our heritage, our energy, our life. It is the breath, the strength, what constitutes matter.
In his book “Science of Pranayama”, Swami Sivananda describes prana as the element “that makes the machine of a train or a steamboat work, which makes the planes fly, which makes the breath move in the lungs, which represents the very life of this breath.”
According to the ancient texts, prana is an immanent energy that circulates in us and around us. Prana is present in the air we breathe, in the light we see, in the water we drink and in the food we eat.
As you may have noticed, the air is much cooler in the mountains or in the countryside. This is why we must focus on outings, hikes in these places, which bring more energy.
Prana is concentrated in fresh foods, as well as in sprouted seeds, fruits and vegetables of organic origin. Foods such as raw milk, herbs, certain spices, Ayurvedic spices, contain a high level of prana. The less the food has been processed the more prana it possesses.
Spring water is the richest in prana. Choose filtered water, ideally with Binchotan, a traditional Japanese pureifying coal. You can also drink ionized water to enjoy its benefits.
The sun is a powerful source of prana. It is particularly effective in the early hours of the morning. You can take advantage of this time of day to do a beautiful meditation, or at the end of the day when the sun is fading on the horizon.
It is possible to consciously use the energy of prana, by performing adapted breathing exercises called pranayamas in yoga.
Identify The Prana
It is possible to identify the prana by feeling it. Indeed, prana is strictly speaking not palpable, except perhaps for extremely sensitive or far-sighted people.
However, it is possible to feel it, as when immersed in nature: during a hike in the mountains, a walk in the forest or a swim in the ocean. In these contexts, the air is pure, we feel the vitality,as if the elements were trying to express themselves, as if the colors were more intense and life more powerful.
It is also thought that it is possible to “feel” the prana thanks to its smell. It evokes the purity of incense or amber or the freshness of a morning dew.