What is Prana?

Prana (प्राण, prāṇa) is the Sanskrit world that means "the primary and all round motion of Life Energy." In Ayurveda "praṇā vāyu" is the basic vāyu (wind, air) from which all the other vāyus arise. (Source: Wikipedia)

The article on Prana below, written by certified Ayurvedic practitioner, Vladimir Kazinets, is a good reminder about how much we thrive on, and need, vital prana, or chi, or energy in our life. I've included the text below, with permission.

I noticed Vladimir uses the word, "prana cultivation." It makes me feel like a gardener, setting about to grow seeds of light, energy, or prana within and around me so that I can be filled with more light. I want to be sunshine, and if I want to be sunshine, I need to learn how to grow it.

So now, I'm going to post this article, turn off my computer, and continue to cultivate my seeds of light as I feel the open windows in my rooms, the taste of fresh fruit in my mouth, and the peace of lying down in my warm spa room, listening to music. I don't feel like walking outside in the harsh dry wind, so some good stretches will give this gardener the feeling of satisfaction in having cultivated her prana garden well on a day when she just wanted to sleep.

Things we can do to increase our Prana
By Vladimir Kazinets 
Certified Ayurvedic Medicine practitioner 
Member of NAMA (National Ayurvedic Medical Association) 
Founder and clinical director of holistic healing center House of Ayurveda (Northbrook, IL)

"Ancient holistic medicinal system Ayurveda says that all forms of life are infused with essential energy, which is necessary for vitality and longevity. This field of energy is called differently in different holistic systems. In Chinese medicine it is called “chi”, in Japan it is known as "qi," Egyptians named it "ka" and in Ayurveda and Yoga this important life force is known as "Prana."

According to B.K.S. Iyengar, “Prana is the energy permeating the universe at all levels. It is physical, mental, intellectual, sexual, spiritual, and cosmic energy.”

Prana is the vital life energy which flows through and around our bodies, and it is responsible for the
respiration, oxygenation, and circulation.

According to Ayurveda, Prana is present in our subtle body and located in hypothalamus of the brain.

Cosmic wind (Anila in Sanskrit) represents Prana in our subtle bodies. Cosmic Sun (Surya) and Moon (Soma) represent other energetic forms of our subtle bodies.

Prana is energy, Prana is vitality, and Prana is live! Prana is healing, it is a flow of energy that circulates in our bodies, and heals, and it is literally responsible for our aliveness!

Modern word negatively impacts our Prana, and it is very important to cultivate Prana for a good health and longevity.

If we do not cultivate Prana – our lives become shorter due to the lock of vitality.

Modern word factors degrade our Prana:

1. The electronics and computers. The more time we spent at the computer the more Prana is getting degraded. If one’s occupation requires using of the computer on the daily basis, the balance can be obtained by spending more time outside.

2. Using the phone is really bad for our Prana. Talking to the people who aren’t there is greatly diminishing the Prana. The less damage is done by using the old-fashioned phone with a cord, using the cordless house phone is more damaging to our Prana (little bit less damaging if the speaker option is being used), but the cell phones are the worst ones.
They really should be used only for emergencies, and we should not really use the cell phones to talk a lot, and if we use them we should use them on the speaker. In general, too much talking on the phone, even using the regular phone significantly degrades our Prana.

3. Microwave ovens completely destroy Prana of the food. Even though most of minerals and nutrients in the food are being preserved, the life or the Prana of the food is no longer present, and it literally means that we are not getting any Prana by eating microvawed food. The structure of the water is also being destroyed by the process of microwaving.

4. Freezers are destructive for Prana. Previously frozen foods aren’t the best for Prana. The worst are frozen precooked food (especially if some preservatives are added) like frozen dinners, TV dinners and similar products.

5. Indoor air is not good for our Prana. Unfortunately design of many modern office buildings (especially the first floors) doesn’t leave much choice of getting the fresh air people who work there, because for security or other reasons windows do not have an option to be open. There are ways of getting Prana even inside the closed buildings, which will be discussed later in the article.

6. Indoor light is very destructive for our Prana. It is very important to emphasize again that people who due to the nature of their profession spend a lot of time on the phone in front of their computer in the dark cubicle without the fresh air need to find ways of raising their Prana.

7. Processed foods are found to be very destructive for our Prana. Frozen dinners that are being microwaved before the consumption are the worst. In our Aurvedic practice we had a patient with significantly depleted Prana; he could hardly even talk. For a few years he’s been eating frozen dinners in front of his TV day after day. All the foods he was eating were literally dead.

8. Fear greatly degrading the Prana.

9. Watching the news diminishes the Prana. Unfortunately most of the news whether we get it from TV or Newspapers are very negative. Watching the violent movies and programs diminishes the Prana.

At our homes and offices:

1. Having plants at home, and in the offices is very important. Even in a physical way plants enhance the Prana by removing the toxins from the air and oxygenation it during the day. Spider plants, like ferns, are the most effective in restoring Prana inside homes and offices.

2. Having crystals (naturally occurring quartz) at home and in the office increase Prana.

3. Daily airing the room out at your house and office (opening the windows, getting the fresh air in) enhances Prana. Leaving the bedroom window slightly open at night (weather permits) is great for Prana.

4. It is very important to keep the windows in our homes and offices, where we work clean.

5. Taking lunches away from the work desk and eating it quietly, if possible, will help to increase Prana.

6. Taking a silent day or a silent hour in the day is really great for Prana.

7. Petting pets (dogs and cats) is really good for our Prana.

In everyday life:

8. Cutting back on telephone conversations, particularly using cordless or cellular phones.

9. Minimizing time watching TV, almost complete or complete exclusion of the news programs.

10.Complete exclusion of violent movies and programs.

11.Staying away from fear (Positive thinking helps, Yoga and Meditation, attending religious and spiritual service, raising self-awareness help to be in a state of positive thinking).

Prana in our kitchens:

12.Adding at least small amount of raw salads or vegetables to every meal, we consume. (Note that eating only raw fruits and vegetables can be damaging for some people’s health on the long run – too much Prana can also be destructive. For example, in nature uncontrolled energy creates earthquakes, tsunamis, etc). Not always logic “That if some is good, more is better” works. In regards to our constitution, people with Pitta constitution can consume the most amount of raw food, since the raw food have cold properties, and Pitta is hot. Vata can eat very little raw food, since it is cold and rough, and Kapha can have a moderate amount, since it is on the cold side itself, even though it is rough which helps to combat Kapha softness

13.Fruits have the most Prana, but should be eaten in moderation. Fruits should be eaten separately from other foods, and melons should be eaten separately even from other fruits.

14. Raw seeds and nuts (for those who can tolerate it) have lots of Prana. Apple seed has the most Prana, but no more than one apple seed a day is recommended, since it is poisonous in big quantities (apple seed as many other fruits’ seeds contains a cyanide compound, and in a small doses the body can detoxify cyanide itself, but in large amounts it can be even deadly).

15.Fresh (from local producers) and seasonal fruits and vegetables have the most Prana. The fresher- the better. Fruits have less Prana when they picked green.

16.Adding the sprouts to your diet (in small amounts).

17.Avoiding the processed, frozen, and microwaved food. The frozen vegetables will have less damaged Prana then the processed ones, but should be avoided as well, if possible. We do not outlaw the frozen food completely in Ayurveda, sometimes vegetables like Okra, for example, impossible to get in other form, since it is seasonal, but recommend for the occasional use.

18.Consumption of the cut fruits and vegetables shortly after they were cut. The longer cut fruits and vegetables seat, the less Prana is left.

19.Cooked foods not supposed to be stored for a long period of time as well (even in refrigerator) in order to preserve the Prana. According to different sources, 24-72 hours’ time is recommended time. After 72 hours, there is no Prana left in the cooked food.

20.Fruits and vegetables are not supposed to be cut against the flow of the vegetables/fruits.

The Julienne* cut is the preferred one, it maximizes the Prana, but if it gets very difficult (in case of cutting the carrot, for example) then the English cut (the cross cut) is recommended, which still preserves lots of Prana.

21.Food should be prepared, cooked and consumed with love. Cooking the food with love enhances the Prana in the food.

22.Eating the homemade food as much as possible, you never know what kind of energy you get from the food in restaurants, what kind of Prana is going into that food, what kind of mood the cook or the kitchen help worker is in today, etc.

23.It is highly advisable to say the prayer (to bless the food) before the meal consumption. It could be the prayer of any religious denomination, or just a blessing. Most of you probably saw the movies “The secrets” and “What the bleep do we know?”, where it shown that the tap water could change its molecular structure depending on the words that were said or the music were played around it.

24. In the Vedic tradition offering food is very common. Offering means offering food to the Devine before consuming it. Offered food called Prasada. Prasada has the most prana.

25.Sharing the food (do not confuse with eating the food from the same plate, which could be very harmful for us, since if people are eating from the same plate they are sharing their karmas. We should be very careful in sharing karmas with other people) creates additional Prana. Lots of people intuitively enjoy the process of cooking food with love and sharing it with other people. Their homes are always full of guests.

26.Try not to talk at all during the meals. Talking and listening during the meals diminish Prana in food. At least, never discuss business or politics during the meals (destroys Prana, not well for digestion, during such a discussion people can easily overeat). Of course, social life is important! We have family dinners, we have dinners with our friends. On such an occasions it is better to have a friendly non-business non-political oriented conversation

27. Remove the phone, computer and TV from your kitchen. Eating while talking on the phone, watching TV, or using Computer diminishes Prana in food.

28. Eating in the car or in the hurry (standing, walking) reduces Prana in food.

29. Water we drink or use for cooking should be exposed to the moonlight and sunlight. It can be accomplished by leaving covered glass container with water outside (if possible) or near the uncovered window for 24 hours before consuming it

Enhancing Prana by exercises, breathing techniques, being in a natural environment.

30. As were stated before, exposure to the sun, fresh air and moonlight, enhances the Prana in our bodies. Please be very careful with exposing yourself to sun! If the sun is strong it takes Prana away from us, if the sun is weak (early morning or late afternoon hours) it gives us Prana.

We rarely expose ourselves to the moonlight, but the plants we eat were exposed to the moonlight and we get its Prana with plants.

31.Exercising outdoors is excellent for the Prana cultivation. It can be anything – jogging, biking, sport games or just walking. Working out at the fitness centers and health clubs are great (it is good for building muscles, it is great for our bones and cartridges, but unfortunately there is no Prana inside the health club, where electro music or hard rock is playing, and hundreds of sweaty people are exercising. Ayurveda doesn’t out low the health clubs, the workout is wonderful no matter what, but we suggest exercising outdoors as much as possible.

32. Being on the nature and outdoors, as we just mentioned great for Prana, but forests and mountains have more concentrated, pure Prana. Spending more time in the parks and forests, in the mountains generates more Prana.

33. Pranayama in Sanskrit language literally means "extension of the prāṇa or breath" or more accurately, "extension of the life force" = vitality. Technically speaking it is forthfull breathing, which increases health and vitality. Pranayama is recommended to study with exirienced Yoga teachers or Ayurvedic practitioners.

34. After the thunderstorm the air is full with ozone. Ozone contains lots of Prana, walking after the thunderstorms are a very effective way to enhance Prana.

35.Running water has lots of Prana. Walking by the rivers, creeks, especially fast mountain rivers and creeks increasing Prana.

36. Being by the sea or ocean generates lots of Prana. People with special sensitivity can feel the energy of Sea or Ocean, and very sensitive people can even see the subtle energy or Aura of the Sea/Ocean. We heard the expression «Coughs and sneezes need sea breezes». Spending vacation by the ocean significantly reduces chances to get seasonal colds and fevers in the following months. Many people fill accumulated during the vacation near the sea energy for weeks and even months.

37. Strolling is great exercise for Prana.

38. The easiest and very effective way to get Prana is daily (or almost daily) morning and evening Promenade outside.

39. Shivasana (part of Yoga practice) restores Prana.

40. Meditation also slows down our mind, so Prana can be restored naturally.

With practicing Prana increasing techniques one will start experiencing lightness of the body, feeling of inner peace, improvement of energy levels, and a deep inner state of body centered restful awareness that will benefit every aspect of one’s life.

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