Everyone experiences stress, but in our modern world of constant over-stimulation even our favourite means of relaxation can cause us to feel depleted. By understanding yogic perspectives on energy, straightforward daily practices are revealed, enhancing life with vitality and peace.
Navigating each day, we encounter constant change which challenges us to remain calm. Failure adapting to change creates stress in our mind. So during ‘time off’ you may seem relaxed, but returning to ‘life’, your stressors are waiting. Yoga challenges us to overcome these stressors by changing our perspective on ourselves, our reality and most importantly learning to direct our lifestyle towards positive forces that increase prana (vital life energy) and calm the mind.
We all have experienced the free flow of prana in the body. When this happens, life becomes effortless, joyful and peaceful. When prana is blocked the mind cannot see clearly and we react with negative emotions grasping at happiness randomly. Instead, if we concentrate on building prana in daily life, we can maintain the peace of mind needed to face life’s challenges and thrive.
So how do you revitalise your prana to find relief from stress? First you must decide that improving your peace of mind and reducing stress is important! Then your mind is ready to learn the proper yogic techniques to rebuild, balance, conserve and focus your own healing energy.
The yogic lifestyle in five points
Swami Vishnudevananda, a contemporary yoga master, pioneered yoga in daily life, summarising the yogic lifestyle in five simple points:
1. move prana (life force energy) through asanas (physical yoga postures);
2. increase and balance prana with pranayama (breathing exercises);
3. relax to restore and recharge prana with yogic relaxation (savasana);
4. eat right food to gain life force and conserve prana in digestion, and
5. use positive thinking to avoid wasting energy in negative emotions and use meditation to download positive energy from the universe.
But what use is increasing your prana if the subtle aspects of life drain away your energy?
Become aware of external factors in your life that deplete prana: breathing stagnant, polluted or conditioned air; listening to loud music with emotionally disturbing lyrics or gossip; eating adulterated food while cultivating relationships with others that support your own fears and internal turmoil. These unconscious habits cause even your best efforts in yoga to gain little ground.
Imagine if you could plug the hole in your energy reservoir through positive and conscious use of the five senses. Calm your vision with clean, well organised space, decorate with uplifting art and spend time in nature. Your sense of smell can be invigorated by aromatherapy and breathing fresh air. Calm the mind and conserve energy by listening to tranquil inspiring music and take some time daily to be in silence.
Properly appease the tongue by eating fresh organic vegetarian food and drinking clean water or juice. You can purify the sense of touch by cultivating healthy relationships and positive thoughts that allow you to feel connected with yourself, your friends and environment.
Start today making small continuous change. Watch your stress dissolve as your energy rises!
The above article is based upon the book, Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy, published by Sivananda Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, CA. USA
Swami Sitaramananda is a direct disciple of Indian Yoga Master Swami Vishnudevananda and senior teacher with the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers.
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