Rita guides you through a most loving and sacred yoga practice. Her gentle nature and lightness allow for the most wonderful unfolding to take place in her class. As a fellow student and teacher I am always appreciative of her gifts and radiant smile she shares with others. ... Aarti Ganesh           Read more...

Prana Vidya

WHAT IS PRANA VIDYA

Prana Vidya is a science and manipulation of energy. This physical body is a storehouse of Pranic energy, a dynamo, with infinite types of electrical currents passing throughout. We see this body as a combination of flesh, blood and bones. 

For most people Prana means breath, oxygen, ions and so on but the Prana of the body is more subtle than the nucleus of an atom, and we have not yet been able to harness it. The great Yogis and scientists have seen a great force behind this physical body. Scientists are discovering the energy link between the physical and psychic bodies. They have arrived at the conclusion that energy or Pranic force is convertible into material force and material force is convertible into Pranic force.

You know the famous equation of Einstein: E = mc2, that is, matter is energy in its potential state. There is a small scientific experiment which we can use to illustrate this more clearly. If you look at a piece of bone with your naked eye, all you see is a bone. But if you look at the same piece of bone under a super microscope, what do you see? First you see molecules, then atoms, and later the nucleus of the atom. Ultimately, you discover the fantastic behaviour of energy.

The piece of bone which appeared to be dead matter was not really dead at all; only our eyes were incapable of detecting the energy within it. Scientists who have gone into the study of energy fields, maintain that the so called dead matter is also permeated with Pranic energy. Therefore, Prana does not only mean life, it means existence as well. The etymological meaning of Prana is 'life in existence'. Where there is mobility and stability combined, there is Prana. If an object is devoid of Prana, it will disintegrate.



HOW THE DISTRIBUTION OF ENERGY WORKS

Each and every fibre of the body is connected with this Pranic current through a complex system of energy channels or flows known as Nadis. The Nadis have been researched and their function can be compared to that of an electrical system. Energy is distributed in our physical body in the same way as the electrical system distributes energy from the generating station to your room.

Mooladhara Chakra is the generating station. From here, the energy is distributed through three high tension wires - Ida, Pingala and Sushumna Nadis, to the various Chakra points or substations situated along the spine. From the Chakra points, the energy is distributed through the main poles or major Nadis to the different organs and parts of the body. From the major Nadis another distribution takes place through thousands of minor Nadis which carry the energy to each and every cell of the body.

Where there is no electricity, there is no light; where there is no energy, there is no life. You know what happens when there is a short circuit in the electrical system- the lights go off for a minute. Or sometimes, due to overload, the voltage falls very low and all the lights go dim. Same way in this physical body also, the Prana Shakti sometimes undergoes a lot of alterations and depressions. From the different Chakras, Prana is distributed to all the major organs and parts of the body. At some stage there is an excess of energy and at other there is an energy drop. 

 Everyone has experienced energy loss from time to time. Some people frequently enter into states of depression in which their energy is so low that everything appears miserable and clouded and they do not like anything. Sometimes, although the major Nadis are conducting Prana, there is a failure in the minor Nadis. Then the body does not work properly. Major disturbance, blockage or imbalance in the energy channels results in what is termed in medical language as a 'nervous breakdown'. So, all these conditions of depression, breakdown, energy blockage, excessive energy, etc. are due to the various states of Pranic energy.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PSYCHOSOMATIC & SOMATO-PSYCHIC APPROACH

Many people say that all diseases are created in the mind. This is correct, but not in the absolute sense. The origin of disease is not only in the mind, it is in the body also. Many diseases originate in the mind and travel into the body. They are known as psychosomatic diseases. 

When diseases originate in the body and travel into the mind, they are known as somato-psychic diseases. Body is the base and Prana is the force. We know that the body and mind cannot exist without Prana. Therefore, in Hatha Yoga as well as in Tantra Yoga, we talk about somato-psychic illness and when we supply Prana to the different parts of the body, we are treating this type of illness and I have seen people getting better by practising Hatha Yoga, Pranayama, and other techniques.

Following are some of the examples:

Prana is the base of human health and illness. Even a psychological illness can be treated by supplying Prana. Therefore, in Yoga the hypothesis is that all diseases are caused by improper distribution of Prana in the physical body. Even those diseases which are regarded as psychological in nature are actually caused by an imbalance in the Pranic distribution.

For example, Vishuddhi Chakra is one of the main distribution stations. It is situated at the junction in the neck, and the Pranas are distributed from Vishuddhi to different parts of that area- ears, eyes, nose, throat, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, etc. If there is improper distribution of
Prana to the thyroid, emotional diseases occur. So many emotional complexes which we are suffering from are directly caused by hypothyroid or hyperthyroid, and this condition results from improper distribution of Prana from Vishuddhi Chakra. So an emotional problem arising from improper distribution of Prana in the thyroid complex should be termed as somato-psychic, not psycho-somatic.

For a second example, let us consider Manipura Chakra, behind the navel. This is the main distributing centre for the digestive system and the adrenal glands. As you know, the adrenals produce the hormone adrenaline. If there is an improper distribution of Prana from Manipura Chakra to the adrenal glands, you will suffer from fear-psychosis, colitis, and other somatic diseases.

The third example is a very important one. Swadhisthana Chakra, located at the coccyx, is the distributing station for all the uro - genital organs except the testicles. These include the uterus, ovaries, kidney and bladder, and urinary organ. Now if improper distribution of Prana takes place, or excess energy is used by these particular organs of the body, then you will have the problems of this centre. Sometimes, people who are suffering from frigidity or impotence go to the doctor, who immediately tells them, 'You have a psychological problem. Something from your childhood is affecting you.' I don't entirely disagree with this theory. Our childhood experiences do have an influence on our present behaviour patterns, but you must remember that any type of frigidity or impotence is not psycho-somatic, it is somato-psychic.

HOW DOES TRANMISSION OF PRANA OCCUR

Transmission of Prana is a natural occurrence which takes place all the time, consciously as well as unconsciously. If there is an excess of Prana anywhere, with this science you can balance it. If there is a disease caused by lack of Prana Shakti, then an excess of Prana from another area is supplied to the affected part of the body. 

This is done by converting Prana into magnetic energy and then into a flow of psychic energy. When Prana has been converted into magnetic energy it can also be transmitted outside of the body through your fingers, a look, or a thought. It can be transported by a flower. It can also be used to charge an object like a Mala, just as you charge your car battery with electric wires.

The science of Prana Vidya is designed to facilitate the proper distribution of Prana throughout the whole body. Scientists have seen that the energy of the human body flows outward and inward. Vibrations or energy charges are constantly being emitted from every physical body. Some people have long strong Pranic radiations, while others have short feeble radiations. Research with Kirlian photography has verified this hypothesis of Pranic energy.

Prana is very subtle and can only be felt by the psychic body. Sensitive people can feel it, and those who are healers by nature are born with this faculty, with their Pranamaya Kosha manifesting predominantly. Though they have not learned this science from any Guru or books, these people are capable of healing the sick. Often they themselves are surprised at their own powers and wonder where they came from and how they work. 

Of course, most people are not born healers, but many are capable of developing this potential to some degree through the practice of Prana Vidya. This technique not only opens up your awareness to the vast stores of energy within the human body, but it also teaches you how to consciously manipulate them for the improvement of your own health and that of others.

CHANNEL OF RAISING AND DISTRIBUTING THE PRANA

In the practice of Prana Vidya, the channel used for raising the Prana is Pingala Nadi, which in modern science can be correlated with the sympathetic nervous system. Pingala emanates from Mooladhara Chakra at the base of the spine. It curves right and left, crossing over at all the major Chakra points. Finally it terminates at Ajna Chakra, where the energy is collected and stored for distribution. In order to practise Prana Vidya one must have a good understanding of Pingala Nadi.

Before beginning the practice, if there is an energy block anywhere in the body, this must be cleared first by practising Yogasanas. The Energy Block Postures series (Read my article Yogic Home Work) is particularly important for clearing the energy blocks in the body. Next you must perfect Ujjayi Pranayama and become familiar with all the Chakra points. Most of the Chakras are fairly easy to locate because they are associated with points which we can directly feel. Chakra points are the following:

Mooladhara- perineum

• Swadhisthana- coccyx

• Manipura- behind the navel

• Anahata- behind the sternum

• Vishuddhi- behind the throat pit

• Ajna is the most difficult to locate. It is situated at the pineal gland, right at the top of the spinal cord in the Medulla Oblongata. If you look at a book on anatomy, you will see where it is, but if you try to locate it mentally, you won't be able to find it. So we have a very simple practice for this.

Close your eyes and concentrate on the eyebrow centre. If you are able to visualise a dot, bindu, or star at this point, then you can skip over the next stage of this practice. If you are not able to visualise anything there, apply a dab of balm at the eyebrow centre. In a few seconds you will feel some sensations there which will help you to locate the bindu or star.

When you are able to visualise the bindu, practise moving it backward to Ajna and forward to the eyebrow centre with the help of Ujjayi Pranayama. Feel that you are breathing back and forth. When this practice has been established and you are able to locate all the Chakras, you must develop a clear mental image of Pingala Nadi.

Remember that Pingala Nadi does not go straight up to Ajna. It moves in absolutely symmetrical curves. Starting from Mooladhara, Pingala curves to the right and crosses back over at Swadhisthana. Then it curves to the left and crosses at Manipura, to the right and crosses at Anahata, to the left and crosses at Vishuddhi. Finally it curves to the right and terminates at Ajna. The path is easier to remember if you keep in mind that the first and last curves are always to the right.

Once you have a clear image of Pingala passage, you are ready to begin raising the Prana. Inhale in Ujjayi and move up through the curves and Chakras from Mooladhara to Ajna. Exhale in Ujjayi and move back down the same route to Mooladhara. Inhale while ascending and exhale while descending. The colour of Pingala Nadi is red. So as you inhale and exhale, imagine that you are travelling along a red path. At the end of each inhalation, practise Kumbhaka (breath retention) at Ajna Chakra. After forty rounds, distribute the energy to the affected part.

The distribution of Prana Shakti to the affected part is a very complicated process, because you have to know how the particular part is connected with Ajna Chakra. Supposing you have pain in the knee; you have to supply Prana to that part from Ajna Chakra. This supply of Prana to that affected part has to be done with a very subtle type of Ujjayi. Each inspiration has to be so subtle that it can last for about a minute. But you have to know the exact physiological and Yogic pathways from Ajna Chakra to the affected part in the knee.

There are so many pathways. You have to find the correct one and when you have discovered it, circulate your Prana from Ajna Chakra to the affected part. Direct the charged Prana until you feel strong sensations of heat and melting, and a type of magnetic presence in that particular part of the body. First you have to try for yourself then you can try for others as well.

PRANA AND THE POWER OF MANTRA

In Tantra, the best way to transfer Prana Shakti is through Mantra. Each Mantra is the conductor of a certain type of energy. For example, there is a special Mantra for snake bite. When a person repeats this Mantra thousands of times, it becomes charged with a particular type of energy. If someone has been bitten by a snake, a person who has perfected the Mantra is called. As soon as he chants the Mantra, the poison is dispersed without causing any further pain or harm.

Tantric Mantras are carriers of Pranic energy which must be used according to the rules for particular purposes. Many Mantras are given in the Tantra Shastras, but it is necessary to study them very carefully in order to utilise them properly.

Most people do not understand the power of the Mantra and they think they can utilise it in their own way. Others use any word or name for their Mantra. For example, you may admire a great man and want to make a Mantra out of his name, but that cannot be a Mantra. If you think of that man as your Guru or your God, then you have emotion for him, so you like the sound of his name. That would be a Mantra of emotion; it is not a Mantra of Prana Shakti.

There are Mantras of all lengths and descriptions. There are scriptural Mantras; Mantras for fever, for counteracting poison and disease; for removing obstructions, difficulties and doubt; for increasing health, wealth and sound sleep; for marriage, progeny and long life. Of course you don't have to practise all of these. If you practise Pranayama, Mudras and Bandhas, you increase the capacity of your Prana Shakti. Then you can help others by a Mantra, flower, Mala, thought or contact.

THE THERAPEUTIC TOUCH OR PSYCHIC HEALING

Previously, Prana Vidya was only known and practised by Yogis and healers who were proficient in the science. Today, however, this ancient method of healing is attracting a lot of attention from the leading medical authorities and investigations are underway to ascertain its uses in the modern medical setting.

The 'laying on of hands' is simple and can be practised by anyone. The healer first places his or her hands gently over the affected area of the sick person's body and then concentrates on sending healing energy through them.

THE SECRET OF REAL HEALTH

In this modern age, people are very concerned about vitamins and minerals but they have forgotten one important thing the real secret of health; it is the state of the inner being which constitutes real health. Physical health is not the ultimate. In the good old days, people used to face epidemics of smallpox, plague, cholera, yellow fever, sleeping sickness and many others. Now, however, despite the advancement of modern science we have been facing a crisis in so far as the health of mankind is concerned. Never in history have we had such terrible diseases. During these times, we are compelled to think, 'Is there any way to achieve the best possible health?' In recent years we have come to the conclusion that Yoga is the answer.

THE STATE OF INNNER BEING

We have been taking care of the physical body, trying to meet our nutritional needs with adequate vitamins and minerals, but for a moment let us think about the inner being. What about the mind? We have not been trying to supplement the necessary needs of the mind; therefore, man has become mentally ill. He does not even know how to think, what to think, or why to think; what to feel, how to feel, or why to feel. His mind is like a motor car being driven by a driver who is heavily drunk. 

By chance the car may reach its destination, but more than likely it will meet with an accident along the way. Thus it is very important that we have knowledge about controlling the mind, training the mind as a whole, and thereby improving the quality of mental health. This is the main subject matter of Yoga.

Why do you take bath every day? Why do you keep your house clean? It is because you believe that physical cleanliness, external cleanliness is necessary for good health. In the same way, have you ever considered that particular thoughts have to be cleaned out of the mind? You clean the kitchen and bathroom twice a day, but what about your mind? 

When a thought of fear, anxiety or sorrow comes into your mind, what do you do? You just let yourself go; you fall into it; you do not even try to clean it out of the mind. That is why you are suffering from anxiety, fear, depression, dejection and anger. These thoughts are hitting your mind, infecting your mind just like a virus causes havoc in your body. But a thought is more dangerous, powerful and effective than an ordinary physical virus. When a virus enters your body, it can be treated by certain drugs and medicines. But when a thought enters, when fear strikes, when passions and anxiety get into your mind, do you know what far reaching effects it is going to have? Therefore, when we talk about health, we must definitely understand that we lack proper knowledge about the health of the mind, the health of the inner being.

THE THREE SHAKTIS

Yoga is a perfect practical system of physical, mental and spiritual health. According to the basic Yoga philosophy man is a composition of three basic constituents: life force (Prana Shakti), mental force (Chitta Shakti), and spiritual force (Atma Shakti).

Life Force (Prana Shakti)

Prana is the universal life force, and this body has a certain amount of it. Our existence is a miracle of Prana Shakti. It is on account of Prana that we live, move and grow. This Prana Shakti is not the air we breathe, it is inherent in us; we are born with it. For up to four months the foetus lives on the mother's Prana, but from the fifth month on, it develops an independent Pranic unit. Life is the manifestation of Prana.

When Prana is flowing in the correct voltage, you feel strong, energetic, enthusiastic, and all your sense faculties are sharp. But when the voltage falls, you feel physically weak and exhausted.

Mental Force (Chitta Shakti)

Besides Prana, there is another Shakti in the body called mind or consciousness through which we are able to think, remember, analyse and differentiate. There are so many mental faculties within us and they are all the play or manifestation of the mental Shakti.

Prana Shakti and mental Shakti are represented in this physical body by two important flows known as Pingala Nadi and Ida Nadi respectively. The word 'Nadi' means flow. In every electric bulb you have two wires, positive and negative. In the same way, in every organ and part of the body, there is a combination of both of these Shaktis. Prana Shakti and mental Shakti pervade the whole body of man. Pranic force is positive and mental force is negative. When these two are connected, they create energy. If there is any disconnection, what happens? If you remove one of the wires from a switchboard, the light will not burn. It is the same in the lower and higher organs. If one of the energies flows and the other does not, then the organs do not function. Therefore, according to Yoga, there should be a balanced distribution of energy to every part of the body from head to toe. If there is any imbalance, there is illness.

Spiritual Force (Atma Shakti)

Prana Shakti and Chitta Shakti are both physical energies. Atma Shakti, the third type of energy is spiritual. It is non-physical, transcendental, formless energy. Mooladhara Chakra produces both the physical and spiritual energy, but the spiritual energy is produced by a larger generator. This energy cannot be conducted by either Ida or Pingala. For this there is another line called Sushumna which conducts the spiritual energy from Mooladhara straight up to Sahasrara in order to open the whole brain.

You know that only one part of the brain is functioning; nine parts are locked. These nine parts of the brain contain infinite knowledge, experience and power, but we are not able to utilise it because there is no conscious force. When Sushumna conducts this spiritual energy to Sahasrara Chakra, the dormant parts of the brain become active. Then they not only give you mental health, but also spiritual wealth. When the practitioner of Yoga is able to awaken Kundalini and connect it with Sahasrara through Sushumna Nadi, you become the master of the body, mind and spirit.

Therefore, the secret of human health is the proper distribution of the three Shaktis- Prana, mind and spirit. In Yoga this is done through the practices of Hatha Yoga which purify the physical body; Pranayama which purifies the channels or Nadis through which energy is distributed; and Meditation which stops the flow of Prana & mind and leads the spiritual energy directly to the brain, Sahasrara Chakra. The different branches of Yoga such as Hatha, Raja, Kriya Yoga etc. are very powerful systems for the health, not only of this external physical body, but the health of the whole man in totality.

CONCLUSION

In order to gain total health, it is necessary for the spiritual life to become the base of our ordinary life. The people of this century have been thinking that spiritual life should be led for the sake of improving the physical life. We have put the cart before the horse. We consider the physical life as the base and the spiritual life as an adjunct, but it should be the other way around. Man's life is essentially spiritual; the physical life is just one part of his existence. In the same way we have been making many mistakes. We say, 'Oh, the divine is within us', as if we were the containers of the divine. When actually it is we who are in the divinity not the divinity which is in us. This is a different way of thinking which must be developed in order to correct the errors of body, mind and soul, and create harmony on all levels of our being.

There is no doubt that we have been making mistakes on the mental plane, that we have ignored the mind; and this is how we have become sick and unhappy. When we take to the path of Yoga the most important thing for us is the spirit, then the mind, and then the body. In the materialistic philosophy, body is alpha and omega, but in Yogic philosophy, body is not the first and last. This physical body is not everything; it is just a small portion of our infinite existence. 

We have to maintain this body correctly, but not through medicines, tranquilizers and nutritious food alone. We have to supplement right thinking, philosophy, principles and beliefs. More than that, we have to develop the art of Dhyana Yoga, wherein the eyes are closed but the mind is expanding and becoming more and more brilliant, more aware. Where this little world of name and form alone is not there, but where the infinite existence is before us in an ever expanding vision of universal life.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna

Aum Shanti