We all know the recharging benefits of sunshine and nature; it’s filled with lifeforce energy. It’s wonderful to remember too that in every moment we have access to lifeforce through our breath.
Chi, Ki and Prana are all terms that the Chinese, Japanese and Indian cultures use for lifeforce. Pranayama is a Sanskrit term, and this refers to the breathing we use during a yoga practice.
Prana = Breath/Lifeforce
Yama = Restraint
When (a) comes before any Sanskrit word it takes on the opposite meaning.
(a)yama = Release (opposite of Restraint)
Pranayama is deliberate and focused breathing which encourages the mind to rest its awareness on the present moment and connect with our immediate experience.
The breath stores and carries the lifeforce continually being channeled to the physical and energetic parts of our being. Oxygen nourishes our blood, organs, cells and systems. It is our consistent fuel, the more oxygen we consume the more potential we cultivate for increased liveliness and effortless functioning.
As babies our breath is uninhibited and it blends easily with our external environment. As we journey through life, our breath can become less fluid and stagnant, with less oxygen circulating throughout the body, energy is lowered, cells are starved, and muscles begin to tighten.
In addition to its effects on the physical body, lifeforce affects our subtle energy body. The nadis, which are defined as conduits, are the carriers of energetic lifeforce permeating every part of the body. The lifeforce, generated by breath, is conveyed through the nadis activating and charging the energy centers known as the chakras. There are seven main chakras within the physical body, and as these open up we begin to access repressed emotions, stored trauma and accumulated life patterns. If the flow of breath and lifeforce is hindered we ultimately feel in a contracted state of being, and this can lead to a profound sense of isolation and separateness. Oppositely, the more we nurture the breath and lifeforce the more sensitive we become to both our internal and external worlds. From this space of attunement we are then able to make conscious and empowered choices in life.
Recently I was reminded of the healing benefits of lifeforce energy. I had injured my foot during Aikido training, and although I wasn’t fully aware of the injury at the time, I sure knew about it when I awoke at 2am with a painfully throbbing foot. As I climbed out of bed to get some ice I nearly fell over, I couldn’t put any weight on it whatsoever without crumbling over in pain. After being awake in pain for two hours with ice and elevation, I gave in to taking some paracetamol, I needed sleep and this certainly did the trick.
When I awoke in the morning it was still unable to bear any weight without crumbling in pain. You can imagine the chaos my mind was starting to create – “I’ll have to cancel the event I had planned on the week end, how am I going to facilitate a yoga class if I can’t even do a downward dog”. Blah blah blah….
I was able to consciously surrender the “blah blah” of the chaotic mind and just be in the present moment, and here I gave myself permission to rest. Clearly this is what life had planned for me and after doing so, later that afternoon I was able to bear a little more weight. It was then I chose to do a yoga class with the intention of focusing every breath on healing this foot.
It was an immensely pleasurable class. The injury allowed me to let go of all expectations and habitual ways of practice and just be with, and nurture whatever came up. My mind was focused on “What postures am I going to be able to do?” and “What does this body need?” I had to be extremely present, every posture felt new and a sense of playfulness emerged from within.
Injuries give us access to the present moment, self-love, our Beginners Mind, and playfulness. Much like an illness gives us access to self-love and nurturing. Lifeforce flows where our awareness goes. Miraculously, I left the yoga room with no limp and no pain whatsoever. Esoteric, metaphysical energy or simply clear intent, focused awareness and conscious healing? Does it matter?
I invite you to play with this. Where can you send some nourishing lifeforce during your yoga practice or training sessions?
Don’t believe me. Try it for yourself.