Yoga is a yolking or connecting to Prana, the lifeforce of the universe, that which abides in you and everywhere.
To heighten yoga's transformative power, you have to first understand Prana and its movement. The more Prana within your body, the healthier you are. The less Prana, the more susceptible to disease and suffering.
The problem is we leak Prana through our senses (overstimulation), improper exercise (think hot yoga in July), and improper digestion (high food sensitivities and taxing our systems).
The goal of a yogi is to contain as much Prana within the body for physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. We can't create more Prana; but we can learn to contain it within the body and influence how it flows.
By learning to harness and influence how prana is moving within your body, you can quickly change how you feel, think, and act, empowering health on all levels.
The easiest and quickest way to influence Prana is through the panchavayus - the five pranic winds.
The Five Ways to Move Prana
Learning to impact Prana in your practice is the first step in yoga and yoga therapy. Of the five, the most important are prana and apana; the power of receptivity and elimination. Combining the two vayus creates a unique alchemical effect, the precursor to personal growth and transformation. You may know this as kundalini or tantra.
apana vayu - moves downward and outward. It is located primarily between the navel and the perineum, governing elimination, reproductive fluid, menstrual fluid, birth, and the elimination of carbon dioxide of the breath (exhale). On a mental level, apana vayu eliminates unuseful sensory input and negative experiences.
prana vayu— moves inward, energizing and vitalizing the body and mind. You can find prana vayu in the heart and the brain (third eye), and its function is to intake through sensation and sensory input, and it is our power of receptivity and perception. Pran vayu is associated with inhalation, the movement of mind and consciousness.
How to tap into the vayus
1) Postures - any posture can emphasize a vayu by bringing attention to that area. For instance, holding warrior 2, you can emphasize reaching out (vyana), drawing all energy to the center (samana) pressing down (apana), lifting up (udana) or inhaling into the heart (prana). Naturally some postures are oriented to some vayus more than others. Twisting for samana, forward bends for samana and apana, back bends for pran, inversions for udana and laterals for vyana.
2) breathing techniques - bringing attention to the flow of your breath in the body while moving and in seated poses emphasizes the impact of the vayus on your practice.Try a practice for exhale to harness the qualities of apana and exhaling from the abdomen to feel samana. Consider inhaling into the heart and retaining the inhale to invoke pran vayu. For udana long exhales and long suspension increase the upward movement of udana vayu. Bhastrika and kapalabhati can open to vyana vayu.
3) Nyasa - gesture. Nyasa can be combined with chanting and or breathing techniques. Next week I'll teach you my favorite chanting with nyasa techniques.
4) Join the subtle body immersion training with me this October 9th-13th, 2021 at True Nature Healing Arts Center in Carbondale, CO.
We're living in a time the Vedas call Kali Yuga, a cycle when chaos rules and virtue is seemingly far from reach. Whether it's the pandemic, climate change, or unexpected events...as I am writing this, I found out I may lose my apartment, and there is nowhere to move; we live in a world of ever-present complexity and uncertainty.
Shit is constantly flying at us. All we have control over is our response. If we're really good, we turn that poo into liquid gold fertilizer. All excrement is compostable with the proper methods. The deeper the mire, the larger the till.
But to acquire the techniques, you need staying power. Yoga gives you the means and longevity.
And while many teachers will tell you that the antidote is complex, requiring hours upon hours of daily dedication, the truth is it is pretty simple. To practice yoga in a deeper sense requires one thing: the subtle body. The subtle body is the vital link between the physical body (known) and the ethereal body (revealed).
These three bodies (physical, subtle, ethereal) constitute the human experience, but most modern yoga focuses solely on the physical with an intense dedication to asana. There is nothing wrong with this. But it is limiting.
When you learn to see and access the subtle body in your practice, there is limitless growth. Your practice will live until the last breath of your life. I know it is a morbid example, but this is what yoga prepares us for.
The good news is that the barrier between the physical body and spirit is easily permeable with the tools of the subtle body: breath, sound, chakras, nadis, kundalini, open energetic pathways, expand consciousness, and reduce karmic attachments.
My mission as a yoga educator and therapist is to show others how to use yoga as a life preserving tool. This is why I've created the subtle body immersion training, October 9-13th at True Nature Healing Arts in Carbondale, CO.
Space is limited to 15 students. Receive 25 hours of continuing educated by Yoga Alliance.
Evan Rachel Soroka