by Morgan Webert
I’ve been getting high every morning this week…on prana, the life-force energy.
I’m doing a wonderful yoga intensive this week with a senior Iyengar teacher and he’s been leading the group through over half an hour of pranayama breath work each morning. This intense work of brining prana life-force into my body has left me feeling high and full of vitality.
A perfect remedy for the all too common post holiday doldrums.
After speaking with one of my clients yesterday about how she always feels flat this time of year, I realized many people have been reporting the same feeling, and I started seeing this post-holiday come down in terms of the subtle energies in our body and how they relate to each other.
In Yoga and Ayurveda we pay attention to three subtle energies: prana, tejas and ojas.
Prana is the life-force energy all around us, it’s something we bring into our body. We bring it in through high quality food, through movement, positive thinking, conscious awareness, but most traditionally in the Yogic system we bring it in through our breath. That’s why breath work in yoga is called PRANA-yama.
When I asked my client more about the qualities of her “flat” feeling, she described it as a lack of enthusiasm and a sense of “can’t be bothered.” The feeling wasn’t so much heavy, weighed down or depressed. More like there’s just not enough fuel in the tank as opposed to too much junk in the trunk.
Prana, the oxygen and consciousness rich life-force, is our fuel.
Prana is the energetic resource that keeps us going. Tejas, the fire of transformation, burns this fuel and converts it into it’s manifest form. This fire sparks your drive, intelligence, sense of direction and is the force behind our evolution.
When we’re bringing plenty of prana into our body, and the fire of tejas isn’t burning too strongly or too weakly, the result is a wonderful sense of vitality and health leading to great immunity, strength and wellbeing. This feeling of vitality is the energy of ojas.
The more we take care of ourselves the more ojas we build and the better we feel. Ojas is like our energy reserves that keep the body functioning optimally. When ojas get’s depleted we feel flat, we get sick, we have a hard time containing prana and therefore lack energy.
And here in we see the cyclical nature of these energies. It’s a simple causal relationship.
When the fire of Tejas burns up prana faster than we are taking it in, that fire of transformation starts to deplete ojas, our energy reserve, rather than build it.
When we look at the typical holiday schedule, we see exactly this pattern. Lots of running around, staying up late, parties, events, excitement, business combined with less sleep, low prana foods (alcohol, sugar ect.) and a lack of routine that brings in prana. As a result we start burning up our reserves and deplete our ojas, our vitality.
This feeling of flatness is actually the body speaking to you, saying you need to slow down and rebuild your reserve of vitality. We often feel like something is wrong if we slow down, but really the wrong thing to do would be to not listen to the needs of your body.
So if you’re in this boat, as many people are this time of year, here are a few things you can do to bring in more prana and rebuild your ojas vitality:
- Breath deeply every morning for 10 minutes. Simply sit quietly with your eyes closed and begin breathing deeply, feeling the breath move your body and consciously creating space in the body to allow for longer, deeper breaths. Find a sense of ease and nourishment from the breath.
- Eat food high in prana and balancing. Eat lots of fresh, whole foods that contain vitality and nutrients and eat according to your body type and time of year.
- Make extra time to relax and get more sleep. Turn down the fire that burned up your energy resources in the first place and let the reserves build back up.
- Laugh and smile as much as you can. Positive thinking is an amazing way to brig life-force energy into your being. Go hang out with a friend who makes you laugh, or watch a movie that will lift your spirits and inspire you.