By Saraswati Vasudevan
Yoga can restore the flow of blocked prana, says Saraswati Vasudevan
Our body runs on the life-giving force called prana that is constantly regenerated. Every moment it expresses itself through the breath and all the functions and activities of the body and mind. Even a single thought cannot escape your mind without the will of the prana. Every living moment, prana is generated and flows through all the layers and levels of our existence, creating change, growth and evolution. We are being constantly recreated by this energy.
“I will not forgive”, “I feel so guilty”, “I strongly resent…” the stories, complex web of memories, debilitating thoughts and emotional patterns constantly trap the vital prana, making it unavailable for even basic bodily functions. It renders the mind dull and disturbed, compromising faculties like memory, creativity, clarity and focus. This is the source of stress-induced illnesses!
Yoga disengages and releases the prana that is trapped in the body-mind complex. When the blocks are removed, prana is released. Especially in illness, unless we reclaim our trapped prana, it is difficult to find the strength to pursue practices that can help healing.
In Yoga Sutra (1.31) Patanjali indicates four dominant symptoms: emotional pain, negative thought patterns, strong body sensations (pain, burning sensations, discomfort, stiffness, weakness, and heaviness). Breath, being the primary expression of prana, is invariably disturbed on these occasions.
When we notice such a disturbance, the next step is to locate the deeper cause. Here are some broad areas of energy traps and drains: Illness (of self or loved ones); relationship issues; anxieties about future (health, finances, children, work); painful memories; well-rehearsed thought and emotional patterns: “I am….,” , “I feel….”. Fill up the blanks to discover your own patterns. As you read each statement you frame, you will be able to observe sensations in your body and changes in your breathing. Observe the intensity of the sensation.
How to reclaim the prana?
Start with asana. Often, a strong body sensation indicates a powerful knot that has the prana trapped in it. When we direct our mind and breath into that part through conscious breathing and intelligent movements, the block gets opened, and a tremendous amount of energy is released which can be felt even at the physical level!
Pranayama is an even more direct method of clearing the subtle channels (nadi) and releasing the trapped prana.
Sitali with Bhramari: This is an excellent pranayama practice to extend your inhalation and exhalation and release some of your trapped prana, especially in the throat region – where we unconsciously hold strong emotions. Curl the sides of the tongue to form a tube and hold it slightly extended outside the mouth. Inhale through this tube simultaneously raising the head thereby opening the throat region. After you complete the inhalation, withdraw the tongue, close the mouth and lower the chin to the chest. Now focus on the throat, exhale using a humming sound (bhramari) like the drone of a bee. Both inhalation and especially exhalation have to be progressively extended.
Sitali, according to the classical text Hatha Yoga Pradipika reduces the effect of excessive pitta (the fire element in the body), cools and refreshes the body, removes illnesses of spleen, liver, gall bladder, reduces hunger and thirst, and even the effect of poison. It adds physical strength. And is said to add beauty and attraction to the face of the practitioner.
About the author : Saraswathi Vasudevan is a yoga therapist trainer in the tradition of Sri T Krishnamacharya. She specialises in adapting yoga to the individual. (www.yogavahini.com).
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