When you are conceived you are given a gift by the universe of a bundle of energy in the form of pure prana. Think of it as a little parcel of intense pulsating light. This prana is your life force-as long as it is there you will remain alive and healthy. However, prana slowly becomes depleted until it runs out completely. At this point you die. As your energy depletes it brings ill health and the infirmities of old age. Yogis have long ago tried to find methods of retaining energy and prana in order to live longer and healthier lives. This belongs to the science of Tantric Yoga of which Hatha Yoga is a branch. The Yogis have found methods not only of retaining prana, but of actually increasing it.
How can we retain our original energy? This precious gift should be nurtured and protected, but many people squander it by burning it up through reckless living. One example of this is western style exercise, which often not only encourages unhealthy competition, but burns up energy without replacing it. Whenever you exercise to the point of exhaustion or are unable to breathe without opening your mouth, you are losing some of your precious gift. Your body is being stressed, and although you may build muscle or feel good at the time, you are doing this at the expense of your life energy.
This is an important aspect of yoga and one that is often overlooked in the west. Yoga contains many fascinating insights and practices, and views the human body and mind in a very different way to what most of us are used to. Among the many practises, common to both Indian and Chinese Yoga, is the gathering and retention of the elixir of life, also known as Soma, Amrita, and Bindu: ‘the drop which grants immortality.’
Brian Cooper PHD
Senior Yoga Teacher and Co-funder of YAP. Brian enjoys unmasking the myths and new-age pseudo-science currently plaguing the yoga scene. The reality is often far more interesting than the fantasy.