Get in Touch With Your Prana: Your Life-Force Energy
Energy is all around us—and in us. Our bodies run on electrical impulses that power our brains, hearts and central nervous systems. But can you feel it? If you practice yoga, you might be familiar with prana, or life force energy.
Prana is ephemeral. While it’s not necessarily measurable, yogis report being able to sense their own prana as it flows through them. It’s not the soul, but rather, the living energy that flows through the entire universe. It is referred to in “Hindu, ayurvedic, hatha yoga and tantric yoga traditions, but similar references to the ‘life force’ are seen in the Chinese principle of chi, ancient Roman anima, ancient Greece’s pneuma, ruh of the Islamic tradition, ruah of the Hebrew tradition, and the Christian holy spirit.” Every living being has prana, and can access their own, if not sense others’, life force.
How to sense your own prana
Ever gotten the shivers, a gut feeling or a deep sense of connection during breathwork? That’s your prana. We can sense prana primarily through breathwork, but there are other ways you might feel that electric sensation of pure life.
Accessing prana through breathwork isn’t just a way to remind yourself that you’re alive—it’s also a great way to reduce your stress levels, improve your mood, enjoy better sleep and more. There are many types of breathwork to try: for instance, box breathing (inhaling for four seconds, holding for four, exhaling for four and holding for four) and alternate nostril breathing can help you regulate your breathing.
As you breathe, really pay attention to your breath. How does it feel? Notice the cool air entering your nostrils and how you exhale warm air through your mouth. What emotional sensations are you experiencing? After all, we might sigh in relief or disappointment, or inhale sharply when surprised. Notice whether your breathing techniques create any emotional sensations, along with the physical act of breathing itself. When you’re in a place of calm mindfulness—and really feel alive—that’s prana.
Prana can be sensed through other means. When do you feel particularly connected, exhilarated or in tune with the world around you? Yoga and other forms of exercise can get us out of our heads and into our bodies, thus better able to experience our own prana. Meditation and mindfulness help, too, while journaling, getting out in nature and even throwing an impromptu dance party in your living room can help connect you to your own life force.
Prana 201: Advanced prana
When you’re comfortable with sensing your own life force, it can be interesting to start noticing the prana in everything around you. From houseplants to pets, parks to the ocean, our earth is pulsing with life.
The next time you have a quiet moment with a partner, friend or family member, close your eyes and try to sense your own prana. Once you’ve connected with yourself, start noticing what about them makes you realize that they’re alive. Is it the sound of their breath? Their heartbeat? Their body heat? The snoring that would rival a congested bear? As you become aware of their prana, try expanding your awareness even farther around you. This mindfulness practice can help you appreciate both the mundane and mystical qualities of truly being alive.
Being in touch with your own life force can help you understand how your environment affects you—and make adjustments according. You might notice that certain foods make you feel more in tune with your own body, while others make you sluggish. A walk in nature might help you relax better than an hour of yoga. As you become more sensitive to your own life force and world around you, your connection to your own body, spirit and the planet will improve.
Your life force is precious—honor it
While there are dozens of ways to refer to prana and just as many to access it, the basic concept is the same across religions and spiritual practices. Prana is simply shorthand for being alive in this moment, part of the universe’s larger life cycle.
Honoring your prana means treating your mind, body and spirit properly, and respecting the prana of other living beings. Making this a part of your spiritual practice can yield incredible physical, mental and emotional health benefits, just like meditation, mindfulness, yoga and other quiet practices.
Whether you can instantly feel your own prana or it takes some work to feel truly connected, give it a try. We think you’ll love your newfound experience of the world.