Before we start a discussion on love, let’s get down to prana.
Before I understood prana, I don’t believe that I ever really understood love in its purest form.
We can’t have one without the other.
To keep it simple, here is a definition of prana:
To keep it simple, here is the wikipedia definition of prana:
Prana (प्राण, prāṇa) is the Sanskrit word for “life force”; in yoga, Indian medicine, and martial arts, the term refers to a cosmic energy believed to come from the sun and connecting the elements of the universe. The universal principle of energy or force, responsible for the body’s life, heat and maintenance, prana is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe. This life energy, prana (प्राण) has been vividly invoked and described in Vedas. In Ayurveda, tantra and Tibetan medicine “praṇā vāyu” is the basic vāyu (wind, air) from which all the other vāyus arise. ~ Wikipedia
There is much more to prana than meets the eye (pardon the pun). When turning to your prana during a yoga class, you are not merely achieving prana through breath: prana is every part of your life, your energy. It is what brought you to class. It is raised through your breathing and focus. It is the heat within your body. The motions and postures all flow through prana. Your thinking and concentration raise prana. Prana is endless. Prana is life. Prana is the ultimate energy.
Breathing and meditation are keys to a stronger prana within you. The more consistently you breathe and focus, your prana awakens. When you combine that breath with meditation, you calm the mind. Worries and thoughts begin to melt away.
As we focus on breathing, the mind begins to open. The body feels stronger and thinking becomes clearer.
When reaching a state of ultimate prana, I will argue that is where love comes into the picture.
Love in its purest form is the strongest prana we can offer ourselves and others.
At this point I will not get into a deep analysis on what is love. For much of our society mistakes lust for love. Attraction. Desire. Sexual chemistry and energy. These are all great things…but but are often products of the allure of lust, not love.
Unfortunately we live in a very selfish society these days. We see many people are looking out for themselves more often than they are others. We are a society of unhappiness, looking for answers through casual encounters, booze or fatty foods.
This is not the whole of society, but a large enough percentage. From there the cycle becomes vicious. Booze, for example, can give is a quick happy fix—but it ultimately puts people in a far unhappier state from where they started. So they need more booze to fix it. And the cycle goes on and on.
From lust to unhappiness, little love exists. That’s where the importance of prana is magnified.
People come to yoga for many reasons. I don’t think I’ve heard one beginner use the increase of prana as to why they are at yoga. But they should.
Whether yogis realize it or not, prana and in turn love is one of the greatest rewards that they receive from their respective yoga practices. A reward that they receive and continue to give to others. Through yoga comes awareness. Of one’s self and the world around them. The more consistent a yoga practice becomes, the steadier the resulting breath.
A life filled with steady breath translates to a calmer mind. Focus. Learning to be still and live in the moment. Then the prana increases. It grows every day. Deeper and stronger through a person. As that person accepts and invites their prana, the question becomes what they will do with that stronger life force.
The first person a prana-filled yoga will begin to love is themselves. While we often take care of others around us (friends, family, co-workers, customers), we end up neglecting ourselves. By neglecting ourselves, we don’t show the compassion and love to ourselves that we deserve. If we don’t love ourselves, we will have a hard time truly loving others.
When the prana rises, the desire to show love to oneself increases as well. To eat better. Drink lots of water.
Feel good. Sleep better. To love oneself. To take care of oneself.
To live in the moment. Not to take things for granted. To savor accomplishments. To truly love yourself for you.
A difficult proposition in a world that does not encourage self-love. When you invite your prana to grow and thrive, the love will follow. You will grow to feel comfortable in your own skin. To love the person that you are and will become. Self-awareness and appreciation. A beautiful thought in a world that desperately needs more of it.
The love that I speak of grows from there. To care for others on a higher level. To help others in need. Or to help others grow and thrive. To care for animals is a big one—many yogis tend to reduce or eliminate meat consumption. This is not by fluke or accident.
The love that a yogi feels for animals comes for loving and caring for all living beings.
This is a pure form of love. One that cannot be forced or taught. It must naturally flow through the body, mind and soul. A high form of energy through understanding and awareness. Prana.
Then comes the form of love that is often confused with lust. The feeling we have for another person. Where attraction and desire come into play. While they are a part in the cycle of love, true love comes from the same source of prana. Breathing, meditation—calmness of the mind.
Clarity. No expectations. Just being in the moment.
Love to me is being able to bring another person’s energy and spirit into your own world. To understand them without judgement. To feel them without expecting gratification. To feel their spirit and energy and to appreciate it. The deeper the connection and understanding, the higher the energy that will come for that person.
Think about it. When you are with the right person for whom you feel love, you can spend hours together. You can talk about nothing and do nothing. But yet time feels like it is standing still. When you think about the person or spend time with them, you feel stronger. You feel alive. You are happy. You feel like the world is a playground of endless possibilities. That energy you are feeling is prana. Quite a similar type of energy that you can feel after a yoga class. But different. Love is an extension of the prana that grew and thrives during yoga. But is now becoming a stronger force.
A hard life filled with challenges, defeats and hardships can sour anybody on the notion of love. Life on the wrong path can stray a person from the power of love. That is where yoga can help. You can build and grow your prana. It is always within the person–yoga is the vehicle to help its release.
With the increase in prana, a person can feel like they love yoga. Appreciation for yoga making life better. But that love is not for yoga. There is an appreciation for yoga, but the love is for oneself. For taking up the practice of yoga. For releasing the potential prana from oneself. To learn to love yourself is no easy task. But once you learn to love you—your love knows no limits.
To achieve the ultimate prana in my estimation is to reach love. There is no greater energy or life force than love. Love makes a person better and those around them. Love makes the world better. Stronger. A happier place to be. And we want to be in it…thanks to love. The prana that we cultivated within ourselves and shared with the world. When we combine our pranas with others to benefit our world, we have achieved the most sacred form of love.
Universal prana. Universal love.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Lisa Omarali at Flickr