The energy body
Prana, our energy body, and cultivating inner peace. By Lauren Bloxham
Our Prana is our own internal natural resource. A force which can ebb and flow along with the time of day, month, year, or time of life. Prana is the fuel that animates and energises us, and one which we have a responsibility to nurture and to use sustainably. Recognising our energy body is vital in managing our energy sustainably. We must pay attention to, and notice when we’re feeling energised and animated, or when we’re feeling exhausted or depleted. We might say we have ‘low energy’ or feel that we’re ‘stretching ourselves thin’. We may become aware of internal frustrations at having an abundance of energy which feels underutilised or unchanneled. Managing our energy can be a complex challenge, particularly if we have responsibilities to family or work which are challenging or draining. Luckily for us all, yoga can provide a systematic approach to managing our energy body.
Using the practice of sitting or lying, can be a useful place to start paying attention to the layers of being:
The Physical Body - Anamaya Kosha
From a comfortable laying or sitting position begin to notice your comfort. Invite stillness, but don’t force it. Gradually increase your comfort levels. Pay attention to the temperature of the room and support your physical body, whether you need a bolster under the knees or a cushion under the head. Notice if the light can be dimmed or the eyes covered with an eye pillow or a scarf. Notice the temperature of the body and whether a blanket or an extra layer will support your comfort. Stillness will emerge when you feel safe, supported and comfortable. Listen to the micro adjustments that the body asks for. Adjusting the feet and heels, the hips and the shoulders. Moving the hands to a place of comfort and warmth. Notice the back of the neck, and whether the weight of the head feels fully supported. Then become aware of the breath – take three deep breaths. Allow the exhale to guide the body more deeply towards letting go of its weight.
The message we are communicating to the body is that we are willing to pay attention and to meet its needs. We are beginning to harness the mind by focusing our awareness inwards. By becoming a witness to the experience and a loyal servant to the physical needs of the body.
Being responsive to the requirements we have for comfort, being willing to fulfil those requirements, is awareness free of judgement, guilt, shame or denial. This is a condition which can be cultivated, and one which can move with awareness more deeply within us.
The Breath – Pranamaya Kosha
As we lay comfortably, we can move our curious awareness towards the breath and the movement of the breath. The mind becomes its loyal companion, there to be witness and to serve. In observing the breath, the mind takes a step back from control and becomes more deeply aware of the innate life-giving force of nature within us. We might notice the mind wanting to take control by lengthening or holding the breath, but consistently returning the awareness to curiosity and wonder is the practice. As we breathe in, the mind may note by describing the experience: ‘breathing in’ or ‘expanding’, perhaps ‘rising’ or ‘nourishing’. As we breathe out, the mind can witness: ‘breathing out’ or ‘releasing’, maybe ‘falling’ or ‘cleansing’.
These are all qualities of the breath that the mind can engage with and focus on. It’s a simple exercise in cultivating the mind as a loyal companion and team player rather than a dominating force which can often work against us.
The Mind, Thoughts & Emotions – Manomaya Kosha
Moving inwards from the breath we come to the mind. We bring witnessing awareness to observe thoughts as they come and go. They arise and fall away just as the breath does. Our awareness becomes curious as thoughts come in waves touched with emotional charge. Their texture and quality can shake our foundations and undermine our safety; they can support us and enable us to rise and grow. But consciously and consistently we notice and note as we observe their qualities. Whether they are ‘dark thoughts’ or ‘loving thoughts’, ‘peaceful thoughts’ or ‘resentful thoughts.’ We might notice our thoughts replaying past conversations or anticipating the future. As we notice, we bear witness. We feel the pain as it arises, the anger or fear, the peace, and the joy. As we begin to strengthen the witness within us by staying present for what is arising, we can watch as emotion dissolves or as thoughts become disarmed. By simply noticing, we empower ourselves to find acceptance and truth. In just the same way as we invite physical stillness by attending to our comfort and support, we invite mental and emotional peace by being present for our thoughts and emotions without judgement. We begin to observe them without the toxic layer of shame or guilt.
The Witness – Vijnanamaya Kosha
Through the practice of awareness, we become very familiar with the witness within us. This is the place within us that can help us to begin discerning between thoughts and actions which serve us and those which deplete or diminish us. In that respect, we develop wisdom and wisdom applied can lead to personal growth and development. As we begin to discern those situations or relationships that bring us a sense of fulfilment, purposefulness, connection or invigorate our energy, and those which diminish or deplete our energy, we bring the power of choice. It’s through discernment that we choose more of what serves us, and less of what doesn’t. We can apply this discernment to our thoughts. We can notice how practicing gratitude feels or notice how negative rumination feels and do more of what serves us. We may notice that we breathe more easily, and more deeply or feel more relaxed when we’re engaged in situations or activities that are vitalising. Our thoughts become more peaceful, and when they don’t, we have the witness present to make the adjustment. This is how we cultivate energy.
Finding Peace - Anandamaya Kosha
Ultimately, we find awareness of the witness within us from a container of pure presence. As the witness body is strengthened, and we burn away layers of psychic plaque, we are left with the presence within, the vitality and space to experience our lives unfolding at the same time as participating fully. When we respond to what arises from within, and we’re close to all that is life affirming, we begin to live a life of fulfilment and purpose. We have faith in what arises for us, and the courage to express it freely.
We find ourselves feeling spacious and free at the same time as being safe and held. It’s here that we find deep and lasting peace that pours from the inside to the outside world and back again. Our peace becomes sustainable, like an innate wellspring of life; what holds us is also within us and this knowing allows us to surrender and flow with life fully and with the kind of balance which simultaneously nourishes us and those around us.
Lauren Bloxham is a registered yoga teacher whose classes encourage exploring intuitive movement through slow-flowing Hatha yoga asana. Visit: blackdogliving.com or find her on Instagram @blackdogliving