What is prana?
Prana is vitality or life force energy; it’s the power that drives life. It is present in every cell of every living organism and is constantly at work to create life, health, and maintenance. However, prana can be depleted when we live an unhealthy lifestyle filled with stress, poor eating habits, lack of movement, rest, and lack of time spent outdoors. This may leave us feeling sluggish, stagnant, and unhappy. The good news is that there are many ways we can draw prana into our bodies, allowing us to feel our best. Our desire for vitality and happiness is one thing we all have in common, so let’s look at some ways we can cultivate more of this.
How can we cultivate prana?
1. Spend Time in Nature
We can maximize our vitality by taking in nature daily. There’s a reason nature has the ability to energize, reset, and rebalance us; it’s because nature contains life force energy. More specifically, the five elements of nature contain components within them to help bring our bodies into balance. We can connect with these elements in many ways.
How can I connect to each element?
Earth – Walk barefoot on the ground, or spend time gardening.
Water – Walk along the beach, or go swimming.
Fire – Spend time in the sun, or sit around a campfire.
Air – Feel the wind on your skin.
Space – Gaze at the stars or distant mountains.
Simply spending time in nature and being mindful of your surroundings can really help draw in prana. Spend at least 10 minutes a day outside, mindfully connecting to the elements.
2. Eat Prana-rich Foods
Food is energy. In addition to providing carbs, proteins, and fat, many foods give us prana. There are a few ways you can make sure you are getting the most prana out of your food.
Eat plants. Plants are still living once they’ve been picked. You can submerge celery in a glass of water, and it will continue to grow roots. You can plant a seed from fruit, and it will sprout. Now imagine planting a piece of meat in the ground. It won’t produce anything. This is because meat is dead food.
You can determine whether a food contains prana by seeing if it grows when you plant it. If it grows, that's prana!
Eat fresh, seasonal food. Fresh, plant-based foods hold the most prana. The more you can close the time gap from the point the plant is picked, to when it goes in your mouth, the more prana your body will receive. A freshly picked tomato from the garden has more prana than the tomato that was shipped from another country and has been sitting at the grocery store for 1 week. A freshly cooked meal will deliver more prana than a leftover meal that’s been microwaved. Seasonal foods deliver more prana than foods that aren’t in season, which are often picked before they’re ripe and ripened with a chemical agent while in transit. Seasonal foods also offer our bodies what they need to stay in balance during that specific season.
What are seasonal foods?
Vata season – Fall and winter produce grounding foods, including root vegetables like carrots, and potatoes
Kapha Season – During the Spring, lighter foods like leafy greens, asparagus and various herbs are abundant
Pitta season – in the summer, light and cooling foods such as watermelon and cucumber are in season
Fresh foods also contain more prana than artificial foods. Below is an acronym to help you remember foods that lack prana and nutrients.
FLUNC foods are foods that should be minimized or avoided if you are trying to cultivate more prana.
Frozen foods – The longer foods are kept in the freezer, the more prana they lose. Frozen foods should be used within 3 months of freezing.
Leftovers – As leftovers sit in the refrigerator, they lose prana. Eat leftovers within 3 days before most of the prana is lost.
Unnatural foods – Artificially altered and processed foods fool the brain into thinking they contain nutrients that they don't.
Nuked – Microwavable meals often contain artificial flavours, dyes, and preservatives. Microwaving leftovers should also be avoided whenever possible.
Canned – Canned foods are made to last a long time, often with high salt levels. The longer the can sits on the shelf, the less prana its contents contain.
The rule of thumb is to consume fresh, plant food to bring prana into your system. You also take prana in through the breath.
Pranayama is a type of yoga focused on the effects of breathing. Although breathing is an autonomic process, like your heart rate, digestion, and blood pressure, pranayama techniques can help enhance your well-being and bring your bodymind into balance. Pranayama is a Sanskrit word. “Prana” means the vital life force flowing through the body that animates all living things. “Ayama” means to extend or draw out. Therefore, pranayama translates to the action of expanding life force energy in our bodies through intentional breathing.
What can pranayama do for me?
1. Reduce anxiety and depression
2. Increase energy levels
3. Improve immunity
4. Decrease stress
How do I practice pranayama?
There are many different types of pranayama exercises. If you’re a beginner, you can start by focusing on the breath while taking a long inhale, filling the belly up and following with a slow exhale. Repeat 5-10 times.
4. Mindful Movement
Movement is life; life cannot exist without it. Our bodies, breath, circulation, and cells are constantly moving. However, when we are physically stagnant, the body and mind also become more stagnant. This can leave us feeling stuck, unmotivated and low in energy. By practicing mindful movement daily, we can encourage more movement, flow, and fluidity within us while enriching the body with prana.
How do I practice mindful movement?
Finding an exercise that you enjoy is important. It may be yoga, Pilates, walking, or tai chi. Whatever activity you choose, make sure it’s one you can stick with. By practicing mindful movement, you will discover what exercises work for you while weeding out those that don’t.
Here are some ways to incorporate mindfulness into your exercise routine:
Pay close attention to the physical and emotional sensations in your body. Remove all distractions from your exercise and focus intently on proper movement and form. During exercise, your body is releasing endorphins, pumping nutrients into the cells and allowing vital life force to pulse through it. When we distract ourselves with TV or background noise, we rob ourselves of this experience. Staying engaged with physical sensations is also crucial as the body sends messages to your brain when there is a potential accident or injury. If we are distracted, we may not catch on to subtle cues which could result in injury.
Movement is a beautiful way to move emotions through and out of the body. Have you ever been stressed or angry before a workout, but then post-workout, you feel great? Besides the release of endorphins, one of the reasons for this is that movement gets things flowing; this doesn’t exclude your emotions. If you’re experiencing any emotional sensations, allow them to flow through you with every movement. Feel the emotion and release it. Emotions are energy in motion; they are meant to flow. However, when we don’t allow ourselves to feel emotions, they can become stuck in the body and create blockages, leading to disease over time. Acknowledge and feel your emotions; this encourages flow, which helps clear your energetic channels, allowing life force energy to flow more freely through the body.
Be present. Think of creative ways that you can stay present with your exercise routine. This may involve scheduling a specific time each day to work out. You may find that creating an ambiance around your workout routine allows you to be more present, such as lighting incense or creating a ritual around your routine. Find a way to take your mind away from everything going on in your day-to-day, allowing you to focus on the present moment. There is no right or wrong; do what works best for you.
Be aware of your senses. Simply bringing your attention to the environment and your body can keep you in a state of mindfulness. It doesn’t take much effort to do this. If you find yourself drifting away, remind yourself to return to the room and focus on your breath.
5. Welcome Positivity
Surround yourself with high-vibe people. Try to avoid people that are angry, negative, or jealous. We tend to take on the energy that surrounds us, so be mindful of this when considering who you spend time with.
Your thoughts and emotions also play a significant role in shaping how you feel on a daily basis. Practice gratitude and positive thinking. It can help to write down 5 things you’re grateful for every morning. This allows you to start your day with a positive mindset, and with practice, you will begin to rewire your brain to think more positively over time.
Prana is present in every living organism that exists. However, it is constantly being used, so it requires constant recharging. Prana is all around us; we simply need to tap into it to draw it in. The more mindful we are of this on a daily basis, the more prana we can draw into our bodies, allowing us to feel energized, motivated, healthy, and happy. It’s another one of life’s gifts that reminds us that abundance is free, and living an abundant life is our birthright.