Why Practice Pranayama and Meditation?
The simple answer is because it nourishes your three bodies (shariras). What are the three bodies? Briefly, from the Vedantic perspective (end of the Vedas), your gross physical body is called Shtula Sharira. Your subtle or prana body is called Sukshma Sharira. And your soul or spiritual body is called Adi Sukshma or Karana Sharira.
All three bodies share energy, but today I want to focus on the Shtula and Sukshma Shariras (physical and subtle bodies). The physical and subtle bodies influence each other. The health of the physical body is reflected in the subtle body and visa versa. Although the physical body does effect the subtle body, the subtle body is more powerful in terms of the shakti and God-force than the physical body. It influences the physical body in strong and profound ways. In fact, the subtle body governs the physical body.Â The subtle body is what animates and feeds the physical body especially through the vehicle of the breath. It’s what gives the physical body its life force.
This is why the practice of pranayama is so powerful. Pranayama makes the prana body strong and clear. How do you know your subtle body is healthy and clear? Take a look at your physical body. The physical body is the reflection of the subtle body. If your physical body is unhealthy, weak, disease-ridden, or if you are in a lot of pain, this indicates your subtle body is out of harmony, “off-line”, or clogged.
A frail or clogged subtle body not only shows up in the physical body by the way you feel physically, but it also shows up in the way you feel mentally, emotionally, and attitudinally. Your self-limiting beliefs will begin to show up. You’ll feel low self-esteem, anxiety, worry, fear or anger, depression, or self-doubt. All of these emotions are normal and we all feel this way sometimes. But when your subtle body is depleted or clogged over a long period of time, these negative emotions and mind states will become deeper, hang around longer, and become insidious.
The subtle body also reflects itself in the quality of your mind. When your subtle body is vibrant and strong, your mind will be clear. Your thoughts will be focused and sharp. You’ll be able to think clearly and your actions will be effective and more sattvic (balanced and life-enhancing). You will be able to access creative energy and have uplifting ideas and insight about yourself and life. You’ll be in touch with your deeper desire to increase your knowledge, to increase your health, to investigate life more, and address life’s problems and challenges head on with a positive attitude to discover solutions. You will be inspired to learn and grow, to innovate and express yourself. You’ll be on fire to inspire others around you and share your knowledge.
In addition, when your subtle body is clear, your chakras will begin to come alive and work for you in the best possible way. All chakras will be active in positive and life-affirming ways. But in particular, your third, fifth, and sixth chakras will be synchronized. Your third chakra, Manipura in the belly, will become full with high self-esteem and vital health. You’ll have the energy to make things happen. Your fifth chakra, Vishuddha in the throat, will become alive with creative expression. You’ll have the power to speak your ideas into reality. When you speak, the conviction and enthusiasm you feel inside will touch the hearts of others. With conviction and certainty, you’ll be able to influence and inspire others to reach for the highest and fulfill their life destiny path while also supporting you or joining you in your vision. Lastly, your sixth chakra, Ajna at the third eye, will open and pour forth a torrent of divinely inspired ideas. You’ll be able to access a higher consciousness beyond your own personal limited sense of self and become a conduit or channel or creative, healing energy and will inspire you to live fully and become the best version of yourself.
I’ve had a regular morning practice of asana, pranayama, mantra, and meditation for a long time. Of course my inspiration fluctuates and goes through its cycles. But over the last week or so I have rededicated myself to the practice and have increased the duration of my morning practices. I feel the reawakened urge to do sadhana, spiritual practices, as the deepest and highest priority of my day. I’ve recommitted to waking up earlier as well. When I wake up earlier I’ve found ironically, that I am less tired throughout the day. To keep the balance easy, I give myself permission to take a 10-15 nap during the day as needed.
I want to encourage you to practice pranayama and meditation daily and keep your subtle body vibrant and clear! Enjoy.