Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Creating Prana

Prana is the “life force” that flows through our body. It is what animates the bones, muscles, skin, nerves, tissues and cells of the body, making it an energetic organism. As long as we are alive, we have Prana, but this Prana can be strong and flowing freely, weak and/or obstructed, or strong but uncontained or misdirected.
Below are ways to increase Prana, and keep it functioning optimally. 
● Breathe. Breathing is our bodies main method of absorbing Prana. We inhale and exhale thousands of times a day, but most of us are aware of very few if any of those breaths. As a consequence, breaths are shallow, utilizing little of our lung capacity. Practicing very simple pranayama, or yogic breathing techniques will enable us to take more nourishing, meaningful breaths.
● Practice yoga. You knew I’d fit that in sooner or later, so I’ll make it sooner. Practice poses that open the heart and ribs, increasing lung capacity. Backbends, side bends, shoulder openers are wonderful for drawing energy in. Be conscious of proper alignment to help Prana flow unobstructed through the body. Poor alignment creates blockages, and therefore tension.
Any physical activity that increases respiration helps increase Prana. However, the intensity level must be appropriate. Your exercise should leave you feeling fresh and energized, not depleted. After a run, workout or yoga class, you should have enough energy to perform one-half of the same workout again.
● Get outside. Nature, sun, fresh air all increase energy. Any connection we can find with  nature feeds our original source of Prana. You can combine physical activity with outdoors (taking your yoga mat outside can be ideal), or just rest on your back finding shapes in the clouds. The key is connecting with the natural environment. Strip-mall walking does not count.
● Eat thoughtfully. Are you eating a food out of habit? as a reaction to stress or boredom? or for nourishment and energy? Notice your energy level and mental state while eating a specific food, immediately after, and then again an hour or so later.  Begin to reshape your cravings, cultivating a taste for foods that make you feel alert, clear-headed and energized. 
It takes energy to ingest and digest your food. Is the nutrient quality of your food greater than the energy it takes to digest it? Or, will you be operating on a negative return for your energetic investment? 
Stick to foods that have a short, legible ingredient list. Cooking from scratch with simple ingredients is best. Each processing step that takes a food away from its natural roots removes Prana. 
And, realize guilt is a Prana zapper. Enjoy an occasional treat. But overall, enjoy a healthy diet that makes you feel empowered, not guilty. 
● Surround yourself with beauty. We draw Prana in through the nose and mouth, but also the eyes, ears and senses. Listen to beautiful, uplifting music. Create beauty in your environment, and see the beauty that is already there. Enjoy entertainment that nourishes you. Enjoy the company of friends that stimulate and inspire. These are all conscious choices we can make to increase our life energy.
These tips may all be common sense, but they deserve to be noted and revisited frequently. Daily life as householders depletes our Prana, and we need to take the time to replenish on a regular basis.  This is not something that takes extra time; it simply means making decisions that feed us, not deplete us. We do have choices. Choose energy.