When we think of prana we usually think “breath” especially when associated with pranayama which is typically defined as “breathing excersices.” But prana is much more than breath alone. Prana is life force, it is energy, it is the organized intelligence that keeps the unconscious systems of our body working without our assistance. Prana affects the mind as well. When we leave our prana in an unconscious state, it becomes the ego, but when we work to awaken our prana we are able to transcend the ego and the mind and begin to evolve spiritually. The essence of all true healing is found within the power of the prana, in increasing the prana-the life energy.
Photo from Flickr
How We Can Increase Prana in Ourselves
There are several ways to increase our prana when we address the points of pranic absorption. Prana is absorbed mainly through the nose, the lungs, the skin and the intestine.
Prana Absorbed through the Nose
Prana is breathed in though the nostrils in the form of air. Specifically, clean air. It is essential then to be sure that the air we are breathing is of the highest, pranic rich quality. If you are fortunate to live in a natural setting, spending time outdoors everyday aids in the increase of prana absorbed by breathing. If the air where you live is polluted, you may want to add some houseplants to your living space. This will help clean the immediate air and increase the prana that you’re taking in through the nostrils.
It is also very important to keep the nasal passages clean so that the air breathed in is passing through the nose rather than the mouth and being properly cleaned before being absorbed into the lungs. We can keep the nasal passageways clean in a number of ways, such as through
1. A neti pot which originated in India rinses the sinuses cavities with saline water
2. Ayurvedic nasal therapy which is a careful sniffing of powdered herbs through the nose to clear the sinuses
3. Applying oil or ghee to the nostrils which aids in increasing our immunity to colds
4. Aromatherapy in the form of essential oils which can be diffused in a pot of simmering water or added to a carrier oil and applied to the skin
5. Pranayama which is the most effective way of increasing prana absorption through the nostrils, specifically by practicing alternate nostril breathing.
Prana Absorbed through the Lungs
The prana absorbed through the breath in our lungs serves to oxygenate our blood and thus invigorates our entire system. Practicing breath awareness (simply meditating the normal inhalation and exhalation without attempting to alter it in any way) can lead to the recognition of breathing irregularities, such as shallow breathing or reverse breathing. Once identified, pranayama can be used to correct these irregularities. Our breath and mind are closely related. When we control our breath, we control our mind, and similarly, our emotions have an effect on our breathing patterns. If we’re holding onto to negative emotions we may not be properly absorbing prana through the lungs. Practice exhaling fully and a natural inhalation will occur and aid in cleansing of the breath.
Prana Absorbed through the Skin
Respiration of air and prana continues with the skin. Prana is best absorbed through clean pores and properly moisturized skin. Showering or bathing every day helps to keep the skin clean and ready for optimal prana absorption. It’s also important to maintain a level of moisture in the skin which can be done with daily oil massage. Care should be taken in the quality of product that is put on the skin. If the oils used contain a lot of chemical ingredients the process of prana absorption will be further hindered. Another way to maximize prana absorption through the skin is with sweating therapy which can be done by simply sitting in a sauna. This helps expel toxins through the skin and keep the pores clear.
Prana Absorbed through the Intestine
It is more accurate to say prana that is absorbed through the digestive system since this includes the mouth, the stomach and the intestines. Through the mouth we absorb prana when taking the first bite of food. Certainly some foods such as fresh and organically grown produce already contain more prana than others such as stale or overly processed foods. When the food makes contact with our lips, prana is absorbed through the palate. This is especially true of water which contains much prana. It is important to keep the mouth clean in between meals in order to increase the absorption of prana at this site.
Moving on to the stomach where digestion begins, it is crucial that the food we have delivered to the stomach is rich in prana. If not it will be difficult to digest the food and accumulations of mucus can occur. Indian cooking lends itself to good digestion with the inclusion of many wonderful spices that increase digestive ability. There are also Ayurvedic herbs available that can stimulate stomach secretions.
In the intestine pranic food is used to build our bodies. The bones, the marrow and the nerves are all nourished through the proper absorption of prana in the intestine. When foods are carefully chosen and rich in prana the body is being supplied with the best building materials available. The Ayurvedic herbs Triphala is commonly used to aid right absorption of prana through the intestines.