What is Prana Yoga?
Prana yoga, also known as pranayama, is quite complex, but this basic guide to prana yoga will help you get a firm grasp on the foundations of this practice. You can have a better understanding of, and appreciation for, this type of yoga when you embrace its principles.
The term “prana” is a very common one in the yoga universe and one that is translated to mean “primary energy” or, in some cases, “breath.” There is also a specific type of yoga associated this this Sanskrit term and one that is powerful, yet often misunderstood.
The A-B-C’s of Prana Yoga
Prana yoga is more complex than some other types of yoga and has many levels of meaning—you need to understand these levels of meaning in order to really harness the power of prana yoga during your practice.
However, it may not seem that way when you get started. While other forms of yoga are focused more on the body—this type of yoga is focused more on breath.
In order to practice pranayama, you need to be able to perform a number of breathing exercises, all as a way to bring prana into your body.
What is Prana Yoga?
So , What is Prana Yoga? Pranayama is the fourth limb of the eight limbs of Yoga.
Prana is not only the basic life-force, but it is thought to be the original creative power. It is the primary, or “master” form of all energy that works throughout our body and our beings.
In fact, this practice believes that the entire universe is the manifestation of prana. Even the popular “serpent power” known as kundalini shakti comes from prana. It is the inner energy that transforms our consciousness, develops from this awakened prana.
Simply put—you need prana to sustain your body. Learning to control and direct prana in the body is a crucial part of yoga.
With prana, you must remember that while we cannot always control whether or not we breathe—we can control how we breathe, and we can deliberately inhale and exhale to enjoy certain physical and mental benefits.
How Does Prana Yoga Work?
The best thing about practicing prana yoga, is that it is simple—you don’t have to be flexible or physically fit, and you don’t need a lot of space or time in order to do it. You do, however, have to be able to sit comfortably and breathe.
We can use our breath to calm and balance ourselves, to energize the body and mind and to maintain our overall health.
The Five Vayus of Prana
While prana itself is your life force energy—this energy can actually be subdivided into energetic components known as Vayus. Vayus, or wind, all have subtle different energetic qualities and specific functions and directions of flow.
If you are able to bring your focus and awareness to these different Vayus as you breath and practice pranaya yoga—you will find different types of benefits with your practice. As you think about what you want out of your practice, think about these five areas of energy.
This is one of the two most important Vayus. The Prana-Vayu is situation in the head—centered in the third eye.
Prana-Vayu energy flow goes inward and upward and nourishes the brain and the eyes—governing your reception of everything around you: food, air, thoughts and senses. This is the fundamental energy in the body and feeds the four other Vayus.
You can experience Prana-Vayu by sitting up with a relaxed body and long spine. As you inhale, feel an energy flowing from your belly up to your third-eye.
This is another one of the most important Vayus. This Vayu is located in the pelvic form and through the lower abdomen. The flow of Apana-Vayu goes downward and outward.
This Vayu nourishes your digestive organs and your reproductive and elimination system. This vayu is responsible for eliminating substances from the body (i.e. urine, stool).
You can experience Apana-Vayu by sitting with a relaxed body and a long spine. Inhale and exhale to feel the energy flowing down the body from the top of your head to your tailbone.
Situated in the heart and lungs, this energy flows throughout the entire body. It moves from the center of the body to the outsides and governs the circulation of substances throughout your system.
This energy is an “assistant” of shorts to other Vayus.
You can experience Vyana-Vayu by sitting with a relaxed body and a long spine. Inhale and feel the breath radiating outward from the navel to your arms and legs.
This energy is situated in the throat and has a circular energy flow around the head and neck—and is the energy that “holds you up.” This energy governs speech and self-expression as well as growth.
You can experience Udana-Vayu by sitting with a relaxed body an a long spine. Inhale and exhale feeling the breath circulating around your head and neck.
Located in the abdomen, this energy is centered around the navel. The flow of this Vayu moves from the periphery sides of the body towards the center. It is responsible for digestion and the assimilation of substances such as food, air, experiences, emotions and thoughts.
You can experience Samana-Vayu by sitting with a relaxed body and a long spine. You can inhale and exhale to feel the rising and falling on the front, back and sides of your torso.
You can practice Pranayama at any place or any time. Your breath should be slow and steady. If you ever find you are nervous, anxious or breathless, simply bring awareness to your breath and start to slow and lengthen it.
Your goal should be to keep your awareness in your breath. Continue your breathing practice, keeping your breath steady and long, and enjoy the effects of bringing more fresh air into the body and oxygen into the organs.
The best place to start your practice is with a yoga teacher, so you can learn breathing techniques and experience the effects it has on your mind body and spirit. From there, you can start practicing it anywhere you like—even at your desk at work.
If you are looking for a yoga practice that will bring more calmness and inner-peace to your life—then give prana yoga a try. It is a great practice to learn for your everyday well-being and a powerful way to bring balance your mind and body.