Prana is the life force or the cosmic energy and there are endless ways in which we can lose our prana. The loss of prana is the main cause for the loss of our immunity. In order to conserve prana, we need to learn Yoga and stress management. This will help you learn to be calmer and more relaxed. Because when you are tense you waste a lot of prana. When your muscles are tight, rather than relaxed, you are wasting the prana. When you are relaxed, the prana just flows. When there is tension in your system, you use more energy to maintain the state of tension.

Prana has ten different functions according to the Yoga scriptures. Prana flows through the eyes and makes you see; it flows through the nose and makes you smell; it flows through the tongue and makes you talk and taste. Prana even causes you to think. If there’s no prana, you cannot think. So, when there is more movement and activity, there is more prana is utilized. That is why, in the name of conserving and preserving your prana, the Yoga teachings encourage you to live a life of moderation. When you think too much, talk too much, work too much, eat too much, sleep too much, and so on, you lose prana.

In ancient times, Yogis would measure prana in inches of breath. It was a kind of crude measurement system of so many inches of breath per activity. If you talk vehemently you lose four inches every breath. If you run too fast, you lose six inches every breath. If you eat too much, you lose eight inches every breath. If you sleep during the day you lose ten inches every breath. And they found that the biggest loss occurred during sexual activity. That is the reason why moderation in your sexual activity is very important.

Anything that is done in excess, wastes prana. By talking too much you waste a lot of prana. Even by overeating you waste a lot of prana. Sometimes we think, “Oh, by eating more I can gain more strength.” This is incorrect. By eating more than you need and what you can digest, you waste a lot of prana. By sleeping too much you waste plenty of prana. We tend to think, “When I sleep I get rejuvenated.” Sorry; this is not the case. When you sleep within the reasonable limit you get rejuvenated. When you go beyond that limit, you waste prana. If you notice, the way people breathe when they sleep, is not always peaceful. During sleep, your breath becomes longer. Watch a baby when it sleeps. The breath becomes heavy and long. The longer the breath, the more prana is wasted. Most importantly, the exhalation should not be fast. It can be longer than the inhalation but not faster. That is why, when we practice pranayama—the Yogic breathing—we regulate our exhalation. Because during a slow exhalation you are not losing a lot of breath. You are controlling your exhalation and that way you save a lot of prana.

Don’t waste prana in worrying too much, overeating, oversleeping, etc. Remember, anything you overindulge in will drain your prana. When you put too much gas into the carburetor of a car what will happen? It will get choked. The engine will cough and then go off. There is a proper air and fuel mixture that is necessary for the engine. The same is true of our system. Take for example, the stomach. It is not only filled with fuel but with air and fuel. You need the proper mixture. By overeating, you through off the balance of that mixture and the engine will shut down.

If at all you have to spend your prana, spend it for a good cause. Then, even though you lose a little, it’s worth it. Think of prana like money. Don’t we talk about money as being “green energy.” In a way it is. So, if you’re going to spend your money, spend it for a good reason. Don’t just take off for Las Vegas and mindlessly gamble it away. We need to show the proper respect to our prana and take care of it; then it will take good care of us.

That is why pranayama is one of the very, very important practices for spiritual seekers. It helps you to conserve the prana, to regulate the prana, and to fill the system with more prana, so that your battery will be always charged. But even if you do not practice pranayama, please, save what prana you do have by regulating your life and not wasting it. That is why the Yoga teachings stress that everyone follow a healthy diet with proper quantity and quality. And everything that you do in your life, do it in moderation. When I said that sex can be the way you maximally drain prana, I don’t mean you shouldn’t have sex at all. Yoga is not anti-sex; that would be unnatural. Rather it teaches you to be moderate. But some things, even in moderation, are not good for you. I don’t recommend that people smoke, or take non-prescription drugs, or drink.

We have to save our prana by thinking of all these things and by regulating our lifestyle. Many things we do drains prana from our system and then we easily succumb to outer influences. That’s why there’s so much disease, particularly of the immune system, and hospitals keep growing. The main reason is because we don’t have enough stamina, enough fortification, and the proper natural immunization. We believe more in outward immunization. But, you can become totally immune to any of these viruses if you have enough stamina. The poor, tiny, unseen bacteria, and viruses should not have any power of you.

How is it that these tiny microbes have so much power over us? It is because our vital energy or prana is weakened. It is the prana that keeps everything in your system in balance. Let me give an example that will explain how this works. Many of the viruses, bacteria, and microbes—including the cancer cells—normally live in your body. When the prana is vital and not depleted, it is able to say, “Okay, cancer cells, go over there and clean up that area.” And, the cancer cells will listen and do that. When they are done devouring the cells the prana has instructed them to clean up, they will finish. The prana will instruct them saying, “Okay, your job is done, now please go back and stay in your barracks until you are again needed.” In a healthy system, they will listen and will be confined to their barracks. But when this authority, the prana, gets weakened, these cells take over and say, “Now we finished our cleaning, but we still want something to do. Now we are going to go after the healthy elements also. We were cleaning up the unwanted cells but now we am going to devour the healthy ones too and you can’t stop us!” That is what is meant when we hear doctors say, “His or her own body is attacking itself.”

And that is what is happening in the body. The reason is we lost our vitality, our prana, and our stamina. So these cells take the upper hand and they begin to devour everything. Then what can we do? The only solution is to strengthen the governing body! That means that you have to build up your prana. But before you start building up your prana you should know what went wrong to make the vital energy so low. Why did you lose your pranic energy? You should find out the cause and stop whatever you are doing that is depleting your system. When you find the cause you are preventing future danger. That is what is called, “preventive medicine.” On one side you should prevent the cause that would deteriorate the prana and on the another side, you need to put in new prana.

And that is the purpose behind the Yoga practices. Yoga is both preventative and restorative. Prevention is achieved immediately by eliminating all the things that caused the problem, be it improper diet, unhealthy thinking, and so on. There are so many things that go into your system. Whatever goes in, becomes the food for the system. We eat not only through the mouth, but we eat through the eyes, through the nose, through the ears, through the thoughts, etc. Our system is constantly fed through sight, smell, sound, touch, feeling and moreso by thoughts. Thoughts are the food for your mind. If the thoughts are not healthy, instead of getting fed, the mind will get fed up. And the main aim behind the Yoga practices and regulating your life is to attain that mastery over the mind.

Several years back when I was in Sri Lanka, a doctor wanted to make a test on my body. After I had been bragging a lot, in one of my talks, about the benefits of pranayama he came and said, “You seem to be talking a lot about the benefits of pranayama. So, may I try an experiment on your body? I would like to inject some cholera germs into your body. Then, let us see what happens.” Having bragged a lot about pranayama, I had to agree! He did try it on my body. He injected some cholera germs and within half an hour you could see almost a quarter-size round, red spot on my arm. It was a clean, round, circular place and there was not a tinge of red color outside that parameter. I asked him, “What is this?” He told me, “Your body is resisting the cholera germs. It’s trying to kill them right there. The germs are trying to go in, but your battalion within is fighting it there, at the injection site itself. It’s not allowing the germs to go any further!” All the germs died within that same spot. The concentration of germs in that area produced an intensity and heat that it caused the skin in that area to peel off—but nothing affected me.

Some years ago, I was invited to speak at Palmers College, the chiropractic college. After my talk on the benefits of Yoga and how it keeps the spine supple and in alignment, the professor wanted to check on me. He asked me to lie on the table and he would examine my spine in front of the whole class. After he checked my spine he said to the class: “If you ever want to see a perfect spine, this is it. I have never seen a spine like this.” Because of Yoga, my blood count is always that of a young person. One day I was given a thorough checkup in New York. Even the nurse who extracted some blood was looking at me saying, “I have never seen a blood like this.”

But there’s no big miracle in all of this. It is all due to the way you keep your body, keep your mind, and regulate your life. It’s not a gift from somewhere that is given only to a few special people. Everyone of you can accomplish this. The only thing I say is: “Waste not, want not.” Stop wasting prana and at the same time, charge your battery. You can become a fully charged battery. And, the minute someone touches you, they will get a spark. Haven’t you heard this related from Jesus’ life. There was a person who simply touched his garment and got healed and this is the reason.

So, how can we recharge our batteries? The simplest and most direct way is through the practice of pranayama, the Yogic breathing techniques. Through the practice of pranayama we take in much more than our normal quota of prana. In place of five hundred cubic centimeters in a normal breath, you are taking in thirty‑seven hundred cubic centimeters. That means that in every breath you can take seven times more air, more oxygen, and more prana. Imagine the advantage!

So, with proper and regular pranayama practice, you begin to use the entire lungs. You are giving more and more oxygen to your bloodstream. You are literally injecting it with prana. That means your blood gets more oxygenated and it becomes more lively. Oxygen is life. In addition to the oxygen, more prana circulates in your system. When oxygen goes into your lungs, it gets diffused into the bloodstream, but prana flows throughout your system. It enters into your mental, physical, and vital bodies. Even the ends of your hair will get the prana. That means you will begin to feel the vital life force flowing all through the body. Every cell of your body will vibrate with new life. At that point no virus can even think of coming near you. As soon as they come near you they get burned up. You have built up your army within. You will be enriching your blood with a lot of life, vitality, and immunity. That is the beauty of pranayama.

Pranayama has tremendous healing potential It purifies the nervous system and eliminates toxins from the body and blood. It produces lightness of body, alertness of mind, good appetite, proper digestion, and sound sleep. It helps in curing asthma and other respiratory disorders. With proper breathing, you can eliminate excess mucous which causes most hayfever and sinus discomfort. Pranayama can be used to bring heat to the body when it is cold or to cool it off when there is too much heat. You can exhilarate the blood circulation and stimulate the entire body quickly.

You can direct your prana with your thoughts. The breath and the mind are so intertwined that wherever one goes, the other follows. By sending your thoughts to an affected area, you send you prana. That is the secret behind self-healing. When you do the deep breathing, feel that you are inhaling a lot of prana, a lot of vital energy. Hold your breath for a few seconds, while thinking that the prana is going directly to the place that aches and is building it up by removing the dead or diseased cells and tension. Then when you exhale, feel that you are throwing out all of the illness. You can feel that with the inhalation, fresh energy comes in, and with the exhalation, the collected toxins are thrown out. By doing this, you may be able to cure many of the aches and pains in the body, as well as long-standing illnesses. Prana has that power.

You can create your own imagery. Choose whatever feels comfortable. Visualization is a form of meditation, because whatever you visualize, your entire mind will focus on. You can achieve tremendous things with visualization. As you do your pranayama practice you can visualize light or energy. It can be energy from the sun, the stars, the moon, the ocean, or from your Higher Power. The energy can be in the form of light or air or cool water. Feel that you are inhaling energy or light, and feel that flooding into your system. Feel the healing vibrations, the healing energy flowing in and through your body and mind as you breathe deeply.

You can visualize light or energy in the form of streams of water or the ocean, flowing in and out cleansing every part of the system. Feel the water come in through your head as you inhale, and then visualize the energy going directly to the needed areas. As you exhale see the toxins or any negativity, all being collected and washing out. See the water washing in and washing out. See light and prana being infused and your entire system built up. Then as you exhale, imagine that all the unwanted things are being flushed out. As you inhale and exhale, your entire system is being charged with new energy.

Another visualization you can try is to imagine a divine being, your favorite saint, or Your own Higher Self. Visualize the image of that divine being standing in front of you, blessing you. From their palms, energy is pouring toward you. As you inhale, draw in that energy and allow that divine blessing to infiltrate every cell of your system, and then while you exhale gratitude and thankfulness. Feel the flow of divine energy throughout your system. Feel you are surrounded by all the divine beings; they are gazing at you and showering their energy upon you, blessing you. Take this in through your breathing.

You can also combine your breathing with the silent repetition of a mantra, affirmation, or prayer. As you inhale, you can repeat the entire mantra and exhale the same. Or you can divide the mantra between the inhalation and exhalation. For example, you can repeat “OM” (the cosmic hum of the universe) as you inhale and “Shanthi” (peace) as you exhale. When you repeat the mantra, feel that it has a lot of beautiful vibrations that are resonating within you and producing tremendously healing sound vibrations in you. Imagine that just as sound waves are used to clean jewels, the sound vibrations of the mantra are cleansing the body and mind. You can try repeating the affirmation: “These energizing vibrations are flowing through me and are transforming me. ”

You may choose whatever visualization is most appealing to you and utilize that in your regular practice of pranayama. Align yourself with the Cosmic Energy, the Prana, the Cosmic Consciousness and allow yourself to be filled and revitalized as you drink in literally gallons and gallons and gallons of vitality. Prana is a tonic, an elixir that builds up your physical, mental, and spiritual strength.

A capable healer can even send his or her prana to another person. By storing it up in the system, one can pass it on to someone in need. A person who really lives a beautiful life, who is fit and healthy, could accumulate a lot of vital energy. As I said before, just by thinking, by touching, by seeing, he or she can pass that prana to others. Pranayama can be a master key in unlocking the gateway to the subtle realm of self-healing, mastery of the mind, and spiritual unfoldment.

– Swami Satchidananda


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