When you free the breath, you free the being. If you’re a yogi, you already know this first hand! Breathing patterns often mirror how tension is held in both the body and deep in your psyche (it’s all connected, of course). It’s almost impossible to attend a yoga class without sensing the breath as a powerful energetic force.
But did you know there’s an entire philosophy of the “breath body” in Kundalini yoga? The pranic body is the eighth light body in the ten bodies system of Kundalini philosophy. In this article, we’ll explore what the importance of this body in relation to the other light bodies, and how to balance it. Take a deep breath 😌 💨 And let’s begin!
What is the pranic body in Yoga?
To understand the pranic body, we first need to understand prana. Prana is a Sanskrit word that means “primary energy,” and is often used synonymously to refer to breath in English-taught yoga classes. When we breathe in, we take energy within our bodies and lifeforce energy flows into our cells. This vital force goes beyond the scientific concept of oxygen though – more broadly speaking, prana can be understood as life force.
The eighth body, or the pranic body, is like the circuit through which prana to flows in our being being. Our prana is thought to flow through nadis, or energy channels within the body (like the arteries and veins of your energetic system). The pranic body is thought to give the physical body the ability to hold the soul and influences our time of death. When we pass, our prana is released from our physical body and returns to the flow of prana throughout the universe.
Characteristics of The pranic body
Affirmation: I am one with the divine soul within me, I am one with the life energy that flows throughout me.
Qualities: The signature qualities of a strong pranic body are high levels of energy, vibrancy, and vitality. This body is our connection with the infinite, and the life within each of us. Qualities of the pranic body include:
- Balance between masculine and feminine
When the pranic body is strong, you are alive with health and vitality. A developed pranic body will facilitate mental clarity and focus in life that leads to a clear pursuit of goals. You will feel abundant energy and a relaxed mind, allowing you to move through life easily, like fish swim through a stream. You will also feel a balance of opposing energies within yourself; masculine and feminine, ambition and ease, intensity and rarity, amongst others.
When the pranic body is weak, negative feelings and fatigue dominant your experience of life. When the pranic body is strong but the bodies responsible for imagining the future and developing wisdom are not, fearlessness can manifest as irrational decision-making. In combination with the health of your other bodies, the pranic body will enhance your sense of presence and vitality in everyday life.
Balancing the Pranic Body (Eighth Body)
To balance the mind, body, and spirit, it is important to achieve a balance between the ten bodies. This is particularly important for the eighth body, or the pranic body, because it is the divine energy and life force that flows through us all.
Signs of Balance:
A balanced pranic body means energy is circulating throughout the body and bringing life to all cells. This increase in circulation of the vital life force brings remarkable physical and mental benefits, increasing energy, fulfillment, and quality of life.
Signs of balance within the pranic body include:
- Feelings of empowerment and confidence
- Increased vitality
- Improved health and circulation
- Clarity of the mind
- A sense of relaxation and prosperity
Symptoms of Imbalance:
When the pranic body is imbalanced, divine energy is not flowing freely throughout the body and pranic energy will not manifest. The pranic body can become imbalanced through not sleeping enough, eating high levels of acidic or processed foods, dehydration, alcohol use, and not getting enough exercise.
Symptoms of an imbalanced pranic body include:
- Rash decision making
- Physical symptoms such as digestive issues, aches, and pains
- Stress, anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts
- Emotional reactions
- Extreme fatigue
How to Strengthen the Pranic Body
The Kundalini kriya is a type of breathwork that removes tension and energy blockages from the nadis. It was originally introduced by Yogi Bhajan and only takes 5 minutes – super quick, yet powerful practice for almost anyone!
- Sit in an easy post on the ground with your spine straight. Interlace your fingers and rest the hands in your lap. Allow your eyes to rest on the ground in front of you.
- Purse your lips as if they are a straw in which you are sucking air through.
- Pull air through the mouth in strong, rhythmic inhalations. (about 1 second per breath). Allow your exhales to happen automatically.
- Continue for 5 minutes.
Meditation to Build Prana
The caliber of life meditation improves command of the breath and cultivates prana within the body. It involves breath retention, which can be quite challenging for beginners. It’s important not to force the breath, but rather start with a shorter practice (3-5 minutes) and build up to 11 minutes – the maximum recommended practice length.
- Sit in a comfortable position and engage the chin lock. Extend your arms straight in front of you, parallel to the ground.
- Make the right hand into a fist with the thumb pointing upward.
- Wrap the fingers of the left hand around the right fist and extend the left thumb upwards. Adjust the grip so the two thumbs touch along their sides and the tops of the thumbs make a “V” sign.
- Inhale for 5 seconds, trying to inhale deeply.
- Hold for 15 seconds.
- Exhale for 5 seconds.
- Hold for 15 seconds.
- Repeat for 3-5 minutes and build up to a maximum of 11 minutes.
Improve Your Physical Health
When we improve our physical health, we revitalize the being with oxygen and nutrients transported by the blood. Plus, we honor the divinity in our physical form, which allows us to appreciate the divinity around us! Improving your physical health energizes all of the 10 bodies, but it is especially beneficial for the breath being. To cultivate the physical health needed for a balanced pranic body, try these simple tips:
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods
- Get proper sleep
- Walk in nature
- Avoid areas with high levels of pollution or dust
- Exercise regularly
- Practice yoga asana