Pranayama kosha or Energy Body
Taittiriya Upanishad further says: “Inside this is another body made of life energy. It fills the physical body and takes its shape. Those who treat this vital force as divine experience excellent health and longevity because this energy is the source of physical life.”
This second dimension or kosha is called pranamaya kosha, the energy body, and is the first of the three layers of the Astral Body or Linga Shareera or Sukshma Shareera.
This second kosha is composed of prana, or chi, or ka, or pneuma, or mana, or life force. It is made up of 72,000 nadis, or astral tubes, through which prana, the vital energy, flows. Prana is a Sanskrit word meaning movement, motion or vibration. It is the vital force that produces the subtle vibrations related to breath, and which are the driving force behind the physical aspect of the senses and the operation of the physical body. Prana is the universal principle of energy. It is all the energies in the universe put together, which includes the forces of nature as well as the power within us. It is the life force that enters us at birth, stays and travels within the body and leaves us when we die. Pranamaya kosha is the vital life energy which organises the body parts and provides movement for mental and physical expression. It allows the invisible indweller, our True Self to be able to animate in the external world. At the same time, however, it allows the eternally still, silent center of consciousness to be mistakenly identified as the moving, visible physical body.
Prana is in constant motion throughout life. It is manifest not only in human beings, but also in animals, herbs or trees, oceans, mountains, minerals and bacteria. Even the tiniest part of an atom has prana. This prana is both, :
Visible prana manifests before you – wherever there is prana there is movement, growth, change and activity, and where there is no prana there is no activity. When we die the body dissipates because it has become completely bereft of prana. Visible prana is manifest right in front of you. After death the body dissipates because there is no prana in it. Also, if pranas are agitated or there is an imbalance, there is imbalance everywhere.
Prana is responsible for the action of the karmendriyas, the organs of action. Indriya means vehicle, tool or sense. Karma means action. There are five karmendriyas:
- vocal cords,
- urinary and
- excretory systems.
Through these five karmendriyas you perform five gross actions. Prana is responsible for the action of the karmendriyas, the organs of action – Prana is the force behind them. Also, there has to be coordination between the prana and the indriyas or sense organs. If there is too much prana, then children sometimes become hyperactive. Hyperactivity in the body is due to hyperactivity of the prana. In old age, we become slow due to lack of prana. Pranamaya kosha is the energy in annamaya kosha.
As per Vedic scriptures, there are five types of Prana, located in different parts of the body that support us. These five pranas affect energy through subtle channels. There five pranas are:
- samana and
These forms of prana control various functions in the physical body. For example, urination, excretion, insemination and childbirth are consequences of apana. Then there are five auxiliary or secondary pranas.
According to the classical tradition, prana enters the womb in the fourth month of pregnancy. When an embryo is developed in the mother’s womb, it is part of the mother’s body and prana. After the third month, the independent or individual pranas manifest in the foetus. That is, from the fourth month, the mother’s prana and the prana of the embryo become two different pranas.
For both a healthy life and the practice of meditation, it is very useful, or essential that this level of our being be trained, regulated, and directed, so that it flows smoothly. In Pranayama and meditation, we become aware of Pranamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through the other koshas. At a more realized level, boundaries fade away; every exhalation becomes another’s inhalation and every inhalation is another’s exhalation. This prana is a part of cosmic life. Each and every creature, each and every thing in this world is a part of cosmic life. Prana is the force or energy for all kinds of motion. A Yogi who has mastered the knowledge of Prana also gains mastery over all manifestations of powers in the cosmos.
Refinement and Development of Pranamaya Kosha
Learning to direct and regulate prana is important to maintain health. The nerves and endocrine glands are the physical correlates of the pranic body’s nadis and chakras. Ayurveda says that health issues begin at energetic levels before manifesting physically. Prana gets its nourishment through the air we breathe as well as the food we eat. The lungs and the large intestine are connected to each other. They both supply us with Prana, the lungs because they absorb the essence of the air, and the large intestine absorbs the essence and the nutrition of food. The Prana gets nourished, which in turn nourishes both the body and the mind. It is possible to nourish Prana through the following methods:
- Pranamaya kosha is directly influenced through practice of pranayama. It is imperative to have an impeccable technique for Pranayama.
- Take sattvic food. It helps energize Pranamaya Kosha.
- Practice asanas with an awareness of the breath.
- Releasing what you don’t need is as important as adding what you need; spend less time on the activities (or relationships) that dim your inner light.
- Practice good intention and repetition; you can change the energy of your inner and outer environment.
- Practice mauna (noble silence). Try making meals in silence, or while chanting or singing uplifting mantras.
- Mudras connect different nadis; their knowledge and practice can strengthen Prana.
- Mantras have a positive influence on nadis. Chant or sing mantras suited to your Pranic body.
- Marma Therapy acts on marmas and can be very helpful.
- Traatak, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana also are very useful.
Koshas – Yogis Sheaths of our Being
Annamaya Kosha or Physical Body
Pranamaya Kosha or Energy Body
Manomaya Kosha or Mental Body
Vigyanamaya Kosha or Intellectual or Wisdom Body
Anandamaya Kosha or Bliss
To delve deeper into this important topic in Yoga, please check different courses at SAVY.
Dr Jitender K Sahdev
President and Director of Teaching
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