After a yoga class we feel calm, peaceful and less stressed. Yoga seems to do this, an effect that no other exercise has on the body (for me anyhow!)
What is it that evokes this blissful, peaceful state?
Yogi’s put it down to prana (Sanskrit) a universal ‘life force’ energy. Many cultures believe in this universal energy. The Japanese refer to is as reiki. Reiki is practiced all over the world, used for meditating, relaxation and healing. In china and all over the world also, people practice Qigong, where Qi (Pronounced ‘chi’) is cultivated through flowing movements and when harnessed, is healing, meditative and therapeutic. Qi is also harnessed in the martial art tai chi and is a powerful energy, made famous by Bruce Lee. In Qigong, it is believed Qi flows through meridians in the body.
Life force energy is indeed universal and focuses on the fact that whatever our background, we need to have a balanced mind, body and spirit… to be at one with ourselves, others and our surroundings.
For Yogis this balance comes from the chakras, which… with regular yoga practice and meditation… allows us to connect with ourselves, the Earth and higher consciousness on a deeper level. When this is accomplished, Yogi’s often feel a state of bliss, which is refered to as Samadhi (Sanskrit) in the Yoga Sutras.
A good asana practice allows you to feel prana flowing around the body and release blockages in the chakras.
I know from experience, harnessing the breath in Ashtanga, Yin, Hatha or Kundalini Yoga produces tingling in the hands, a feeling of movement of energy in the body and an internal and external heat. It also happens in meditation. If you have felt hot after practicing Surya Namaskar (sun salutations), this is prana. If you have stood in Tadasana (mountain pose) , felt connected to the floor, tingling in your hands and a flow of energy, this is prana. It flows through the body VIA nadi’s (Sakskrit: channel stream or flow). It is believed that there are over 72,000 nadi channels.
If there are any blockages in the chakras or nadi’s we can feel the effects physically and mentally, eg depression, anxiety, digestion problems, lethargy. On the converse, when all is balanced, we feel great!
This is why so many people turn to yoga to heal themselves. A good yoga teacher can pave the way to free up your energy systems, harnessing prana to heal and balance your life.
Tune in for part 2 – an indepth look into the chakras and how we can utilise them to benefit our practice.