Divine Connection

Prana-related articles

Prana and the Nervous System

Prana is life-force. It is energy infused with consciousness  -  love infused with intelligence.

Our vitality and personal growth is relative to the degree to which prana is expanded throughout our body, mind and chakras. It can shrink with illness, shock or fear and expand with health, love and confidence. Prana, is the tangible manifestation of the Divine Self which flows through all the pathways in the pranic body/system … the most important of these pathways are known as ida, pingala and sushumna nadis. 

In his text  Prana, Pranayama, Prana Vidya Swami Niranjananda says:
“Ida and pingala are flows of charged ions capable of exerting an influence upon the flow of prana. Ida is a negatively charged flow of prana and pingala is a positively charged, flow.  From here, ida and pingala pranas divide into the five sub-pranas which exist in different parts of the body, each having a specific function and varying densities of ionic fields. Udana is the least dense, then sthoola, samana - and apana which is the most dense.  Vyana which flows over the whole body has a density which is the average of all the others."                                 
When prana is activated and harnessed in a balanced and concentrated way the nervous system benefits directly – and balance is imposed upon it.  
Where prana is blocked ill-health, disease, mental and emotional problems occur.  We need the mechanical practices of yoga which will vitalize the prana and keep it flowing.
Through techniques known as pranayama, the yoga student is able to expand the flow of prana in the pranic system, which in turn feeds the entire nervous system. The nervous system is strengthened and balanced, which effectively means the body and mind are strengthened and balanced.  Equally, if the nervous system becomes weakened, the body and mind do too.
Each asana gentle, or strong, directly influences the central nervous system and therefore the autonomic nervous system. In asana the left and the right halves of the body are attended to equally and this affects the left and right hemispheres of the brain (and all associated behaviours in the mind and processes in the body) and ida and pingala nadis.

The cells, tissue and nerves of the spinal cord and brain are flooded with prana - as is the entire body - through asana, pranayama, kirtan, mudra, bandha and deep relaxation. Even a simple thing like mindful awareness of the breath – and/or manipulating the breath in specific and technical ways - expands the dimension of prana in the pranic body. Loving kindness expands and condenses prana.

Mechanical though the techniques of yoga might be, they have art, beauty and spirituality in them also, which is what makes yoga such a glorious experience.

Prana and Nada

In Yoga it is said that from the Primordial Sound of AUM comes all experienced vibration and, therefore, all experienced sound. In the Bible it is said that in the Beginning was the Word and the word was with God.

One only needs to sing a beautiful melody to feel that they are with God. The Sound. The Word. The Vibration. Call it what you will, feels to be with God. Sound vibration is known as nada, in yoga. nada yoga stimulates prana.

When I was seventeen I sang in a church choir, and, among other things we visited and sang in different churches around our region. In a small country church, the choir and the congregation sang with such utter power and beauty that the whole top of my skull tingled and flushed hot and cold as I sang. My hair felt electric, as if it was standing straight up on end. I didn't know until 20 years later that this sensation was occuring because the PRANA in all my chakras was being activated. Prana was blasting through all the chakras, exploding sahasrara chakra, the crown chakra.

In nada yoga, sound vibrations are used to activate the whole field of prana, these sounds are called mantras which are said to have been heard in the deepest states of meditation. There is a specific sound vibration in each chakra where the flow of nadis converges at its centre. Visualise an ocean flowing to converge on rocks, crashing and swirling in an explosion of turquoise, dark blue, creamy-blue sea colours, nowhere to go but to crash and converge. This is what prana does in the chakras.

The sound occurring when the four nadis converge in mooladhara, is lam [more correctly pronounced lum]. In swadhistana, vam [vum]. In Manipura, ram. In anahata, yam. In vishuddhi, ham. In ajna, aum. Sit in meditation and focus into the convergence in each chakra, mentally repeating the bija mantra appropriate to that chakra. This is so delicious you might find an hour has passed before you know it.

Other sound vibrations commonly used in nada yoga, to stir the chakras are called swaras. These mantras are sa re ga ma pa dha ni sa. Like do re mi, etc.  They may be chanted slow, medium, fast, or superfast.  They may be sung in simple straight scales, or in beautiful complex patterns which dance the prana. Superfast activates the prana, slow activates the heart - but whether slow, medium, fast, or superfast - they concentrate and clarify the mind. They clear samskaras.

Connect with prana through nada.

This is said beautifully in the Mundakopanishad: Section 3: Part 1: Verse 4
"The vital energy (prana) radiant in all animate things, is the Divine Self. The truly wise experience pure joy in That. The one whose joy is in the Self and whose life is spiritual maintains foremost awareness of the Divine.

The place of Breath Retention in Pranayama   

'When prana moves, chitta (the mental force) moves. When prana is without movement, chitta is without movement. By this steadiness of prana, the yogi attains steadiness and should thus restrain the vayu (air).'

Commentary, in part:
"By becoming aware of the breath, and restraining it, the whole system becomes controlled.
When you retain the breath you are stopping nervous impulses in different parts of the body and harmonising the brain wave patterns. In pranayama it is the duration of breath retention which has to be increased. The longer the breath is held, the greater the gap bewteen the nerve impulses and their responses in the brain. When retention is held for a prolonged period, mental agitation is curtailed."

Chapter Two/Verse 2    p150151  -  from the text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika