Now that we have covered Ojas (immunity) and Tejas (radiance), this week we complete the trifecta with Prana (life force energy). Ojas is a superfine by-product created by the body to build immunity and vitality. Tejas is the internal flame responsible for digesting everything we take in. Prana is the energy that moves ojas and tejas through the body, but also around the world. Prana is the energy of the Vata dosha ( one of the three biological humors).
What is Prana?
Prana is ether. Just as Tejas is fire and Ojas is water, Prana is ether, space, air, and most importantly, it is the energy of movement. It is responsible for motor and sensory functions like breathing and circulation. Prana’s air fuels the fire of Tejas and ignites your internal flame of digestion. Prana moves the superfine by-product created by tejas to the parts of the body that need it.
Prana governs a majority of your mind, memory, and emotions. It is manifested in the body as the movement of your blood, breath, and the actions you take based on your emotions. Having a healthy level of prana is important for mobility and motor functions. Healthy respiratory function is key for survival. Prana and tejas work together in processing stimuli in your environment, whether that be food or experiences, then prana is what allows you to take action on those stimuli. For instance, tejas is how your body tells you that you are hungry. Prana allows you to make movement on that feeling to make yourself food. This can also be seen when you are dealing with emotional situations. Tejas is the creation of an emotion. If someone is yelling at you, tejas processes that stimuli and may create anger or guilt. Prana then moves that emotion and leads you to action based on that emotion. This is where the cultivation of healthy prana is important. If prana is not channeled correctly, you may be driven to be extremely emotional when someone is yelling at you. In contrast, when prana is balanced, it may lead you to be non reactive and reflective.
Prana, Breath and Consciousness:
Prana is not only found in our physical bodies, it governs a majority of the world around you. It is the movement of wind on your cheek as well as the waves crashing on the shore. The air you breathe lives internally and externally. Respiration and oxygenation start outward, and then go inward to be processed by your mind and body.
Your body is bilaterally symmetrical. You have a right and left ear, right and left eye, right and left hand, etc. The right side of your brain governs the left side of your body, and the left-brain governs your right side. In Ayurveda, the right-brain is feminine and the left-brain is masculine. The feminine and the masculine energy are not reference to gender, but refer to the aspects of female and male energy. Male energy is ambitious, aggressive, and competitive. Female energy is intuitive and compassionate. These energies are driven by prana through inhalation and exhalation. Prana and air bridge the gap between masculine and feminine. The up and down movement of your diaphragm is driven by prana. Ayurveda says respiration is full of life, mind, feelings, enthusiasm, and inspiration. Oxygen is key in cognitive function and is also the food of Prana. The air you breathe sends signals to your parasympathetic nervous system. This is why awareness of your breath in meditation is so important and why its aids in proper nervous system function.
Vayu, or air, is dry, cold, rough, and mobile which is what makes this the energy of vata. Ether is light, clear, expansive, and omnipresent, which are all the qualities of consciousness. Ether and air are similar but are vital in movement of thoughts and emotions, all working together to bring awareness to an individual. This is why breath work is so important in meditation practice.
Imbalance of Prana, Tejas, and Ojas:
The three energies of the doshas aim to work in harmony and equal measure, but imbalance comes with life and its waves. Lack of proper respiration in prana leads to an improper use of emotions through tejas. This leads to unhealthy eating habits resulting in unhealthy ojas. The three energies work closely and subtly but can be maintained through healthy routine and lifestyle. If there is an imbalance in prana you may experience:
- Respiratory Issues
- Improper circulation resulting in cold toes and hands
- Lack of sleep
- Stiff joints
Maintaining Healthy Prana:
Prana is the movement of tejas and ojas through your body, making it vital in proper functionality and mobility. If prana is not there to fuel the flame of tejas, there cannot be proper production of ojas. This is the premise of digestions, absorption, assimilations and transformation. The main way of restoring and maintaining a healthy level of prana is by breath work, or pranayama. Inhalation of pure fresh air, airing out stuffy rooms, and an intention of taking in positive things create healthy prana.
High Prana, which can be experienced by hyperventilation, dizziness, or hiccups can be balanced by:
- Using a hot water bottle on your chest or back
- Eating food like garlic, mung dhal, lentil soup
- Avoiding dairy like cheese and ice cream
Low Prana, which can be experienced by low blood pressure, cold to the touch, and anxiousness, can be balanced by:
- Watching the breath in the belly rise and fall
- Fresh veggie and juices
- Avoiding heavy foods like dairy
The tridosha, Ojas, Tejas, and Prana are what give life its luster, what makes you the human you are, what leads you to love what you love, and what makes you grow from a child into an adult. There are so many things each day to process, let alone what we process in a lifetime. Make time for yourself, be patient with your body and how it reacts. Be present and aware in order to go inward to heal. Health starts with proper nutrition and assimilation, but it ends with who you are, how you perceive the world, and how you treat others, including yourself, bringing the cycle full circle. The three energies of Ojas, Tejas, and Prana provide functionality, but also purpose, light, and love into you and around you. Do not go about your life seeing your body as only a vessel. It provides wisdom and strength beyond just the physical world. Dive into it and allow it to teach you.
“When we are honest with our feelings and emotions, ojas is building, tejas is glowing, and prana is flowing…when listening to someone, at the same time, listen to the listener. When looking at an object, look at the looker… If you remain in witnessing, you will never get hurt. When practicing this awareness, that light and flame of witnessing attention will burn and heal the memories of parents’ illness and past life hurt, as well as hurt from this life…ultimately, you have to knock on your own door and come back to yourself. Love is within you.” Vasant Lad.