Most important for our well-being and enlightenment is to have a unified and balanced prana-our life force.
Prana upholds the immunity of body and mind. This upholding prana is not simply the breath, with which it is related, but the deeper vital energy that sustains our entire embodied existence. Prana also forms the subtle or energy body of the chakras, and is the basis of the causal body and the primary energy that sustains us not only during deep sleep but into future incarnations. Prana Shakti is the key to health, well-being and the development of higher awareness on all levels.
For health of body or peace of mind, it is necessary to develop a unified and balanced prana at a deep level of awareness. This can begin with the simple balancing the breath between the right and left nostrils in the pranayama technique of Nadi Shodana. alternate nostril breathing.
Keeping the flow of the breath balanced between the right and left nostrils (pingala and ida, nadi shodhana, alternate nostril breathing) protects immunity at an energetic level and calms the mind for meditation. Alternate nostril breathing should be done morning and evening and regularly through the day when our energies get disrupted or dispersed or when they need to be strengthened. Pranic balance leads to balance of mind.
Our Prana is our life force, which includes our will power, motivation, aspiration and pursuit of our dharma – ultimately our spirit in life. We need to lead a sattvic, calm and focused life overall according to the teachings of Yoga and Ayurveda in order to achieve this. This includes control of the senses and using them in a contemplative manner, as we easily deplete both our prana and awareness, as well as power of immunity, if our energy is lost through excessive sensory stimulation or disturbance.
Prana and Peripheral Circulation relative to Infectious Diseases
Infectious diseases, starting with the common cold and flu, begin with a breakdown of our peripheral pranic circulation along the surface of the body. This is what we mean and experience by the phrase of ‘catching cold’. Cold constricts the flow of prana, which breaks down the pranic circulation and allows negative energies or pathogens to come into the body and mind. Not only cold, other environmental factors like excess heat, dampness, wind, or any type of bad or toxic air can come into the body once this pranic flow is disrupted. It also weakens the digestive fire that is protected by our pranic circulation.
Pranayama can be practised to strengthen our peripheral pranic circulation, which makes up our aura and energy field. As long as the pranic flow around the body is continuous and deep, no outside pathogens can enter. Yet this peripheral circulation also depends upon the pranic flow being unimpeded through the spine, supporting it from within. In other words, the peripheral pranic flow is sustained by a central and vertical pranic flow from the root chakra to the top of the head. If there are blockages or impeded circulation along the spine, then the peripheral prana can become weak. If our awareness is not ascending or seeking to rise to a higher state of unity consciousness, then there tends to be a downward and outward movement of prana that causes disharmony and disease for body and mind (excess apana vayu).
Create a life enhancing practice: Pranayama for well-being
The main factors of Pranayama are to balance, deepen and slow down the breath, drawing it down to the belly and the base of the spine and up to the top of the head as well as around the body as a whole. There are many techniques to work on the prana, but simple alternate nostril breathing is the simplest for balancing our energy. Another simple method is to allow our breath to naturally deepen by internally repeating the mantra SO upon inhalation and HAM upon exhalation.
A mantra is a meditation technique that helps you to take your mind to quieter, calmer levels of thinking. Mantras are often referred to as vehicles for the mind because with focus on the repetition of a mantra, other thoughts swimming in the mind dissipate and the mind shifts toward mental clarity and stillness.
The So Hum mantra has a special meaning in Vedic philosophy.
So Hum is a phrase comprised of two Sanskrit words. The literal translations are:
- So: “That”
- Hum: “I”
Therefore, the translation of So Hum is “I Am That.” So Hum mantra symbolises the fact that we are all connected to the universal energy that is constantly supporting and nourishing us in the ways we need and desire. It falls into the same concept as “oneness,” or “I am one with the Universe and all of creation.”
The idea of being one with the Universe and constantly supported, offers feelings of safety, protection, and unconditional support. When you’re seeking support, love, or protection, the So Hum mantra may be a great fit for your meditation.
Through balancing our Prana, immunity is sustained along with a linkage to the healing Prana of nature. This is aided not only by Pranayama for well-being practices but by cultivating our spirit in life, our higher Prana and connection to nature and the universal Life.