What is Prana?
Prana is a sanskrit word that means life force energy. Prana is what animates you and everything else in the Universe. It's energy that you can feel, see, and sense and also all the energy that makes more subtle things happen like thought. In fact, in the gradation of our being from gross to subtle, Prana lies one layer more subtle than breath and one degree more gross than thought. Therefore, we can learn to direct our Prana by thinking about our breath moving into a part of our body (or mind or heart). With practice, the feeling of Prana is tangible and can be a profound method of developing healing, power, and presence.
Try this: sit comfortably, close your eyes, and begin ujjayi breath if you know it or just deep breaths. As you breath, visualize your breath as a color moving through your nostrils and down into your right palm then back out your nostrils. Keep your focus on your right palm. Do this for two or three minutes and then notice the difference between your two hands. It could feel like a warmth, a tingle, a lightness, or many other things but this is the feeling of Prana.
The aim in the ancient practice of Tantric philosophy is to expand to the your highest version of Self as quickly as possible. The areas of focus to evolve Self are everything from our yoga, meditation, and spiritual practices, to how we spend our energy on vocation, free time, community and much more. The primary driver for all aspects of growth in the Tantric philosophy is Prana.
Learning to recognize Prana and then how to control it by using breathing techniques, aligning your body through asana, and removing mental prana barriers through meditation, is one of the ways to develop immense power in every aspect of your life. And according to the Tantric philosophy, it is the single greatest method of developing your being to expand into the greatest version of Self as quickly as possible.
Chakras: Prana Convergence Points
The word Chakra means spinning disk or wheel. Myriad energy practice traditions throughout the world point to subtle body systems of energy.
In yoga, the chakra system is made up of 7 primary chakra points. These seven points are aligned vertically along the spine. To be more specific, the two main Prana channels of masculine/feminine energy, or yin/yang, begin at the base of the spine in the sacrum and cross in a serpentine or double-helix fashion along points of the spine to the top of the skull or above the skull. Each place that these two channels intersect cause an energetic convergence creating a chakra. Think of these points like a spinning top.
Each chakra moves with a different frequency which associates with color, sound, organ function, as well as other physical, emotional, or spiritual needs. Likewise, each chakra might be assigned a mantra or visualization that helps a person to be more aware of that part of their being. It is said that a true yogi is someone whose energy is constant and fluid like a steady stream of a river and free from disruption, excessive flow, or stagnation.
Disturbances in Prana (blocks or energy bleed out) can be caused by things like stress, injury, trauma, illness, blocked emotions, etc. Essentially, in the body/mind/spirit model, anything that happens to one part of your being can effect all other parts. Therefore, understanding and becoming aware of how Prana affects your chakras not only helps you understand yourself on a deeper level, but for those who connect to Prana readily, can also be a very effective tool for vitality practice and healing. Chakra practice is also a wonderful way of practicing Awareness.