Four Ways to Feel More Alive

Lately, I’ve been craving to feel alive.

Alive as in awake, alert, clear, calm and here.

Alive from being outdoors, soaking in the sun, using my time wisely, moving my body, breathing completely, and being present with the moment that’s happening.

Alive from high quality choices versus what’s fun, fast or easy (like leftover Halloween 🎃 candy, meaningless scrolling or unnecessary shopping).

Are you craving “aliveness” too?

If you are, please settle in for an in-depth, lengthy yoga teaching.

In the vast world of yoga, there are so many tools & teachings that can increase our aliveness. You’ve probably experienced many already, but for today’s sake, we’re going to highlight pranayama.

But before we experience the power of pranayama, let’s first wrap our heads and hearts around what prana is and the purpose for these practices based on yoga’s original intent (refinement of the mind, spiritual maturation, self-realization and moksha or liberation).

To begin, let’s explore prana and the many ways it’s defined:

  • Primary energy
  • Life force
  • Aliveness
  • Vibrancy, vitality
  • Vital principle
  • That which animates
  • Breath, air, respiration
  • Charge, electricity
  • Spirit or Soul

In general, we experience prana flowing away from or leaking out of our container, meaning there’s a lack of available resources.

This outward, diminishing movement (also called apana) manifests in all sorts of depleting ways, like being consumed by digital devices, consuming too much food, indulging in or being addicted to drugs & alcohol, an endless shopping spree for material things, or obsessing over an aversion (something we dislike) or a desire (something we want).

In all of these scenarios, our sustaining life principle (prana) is leaking out, moving away, diminishing or being reduced.

The ancient yogis, realizing our human proclivities, developed teachings & techniques to help us manage our human nature, contain and sustain our vitality, and increase our capacity to be on the spiritual, self-development journey.

Before we go further, I’m including an excerpt from The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar on pranayama…

“Our state of mind is closely linked to the quality of prana within. Because we can influence the flow of prana through the flow of our breath, the quality of our breath influences our state of mind and vice versa.

In yoga we are trying to make use of these connections so that prana concentrates and can freely flow within us.

The more content a person is and the better he or she feels, the more prana is inside. The more disturbed a person is, the more prana is dissipated and lost.

One definition of the word yogi is “one whose prana is all within his body.”

In pranayama we want to reduce the amount of prana outside the body until there is none leaking out. The link between mind and breath is most significant.

The Yoga Sūtra says that when we practice pranayama the veil is gradually drawn away from the mind and there is growing clarity. The mind becomes ready for deep meditation (tataḥ kṣīyate prakāśāvaraṇam 2:52).”

Our goal as holistic yoga students (and teachers) is to lean into these teachings so we can become effective managers of our energy.

Now, let’s look at how Anodea Judith briefly defines pranayama in her book, Chakra Yoga.

“In yoga terminology, breath practices are called pranayama.

Prana represents the basic energy of life – the first unit – and yama means to rein in, such as connecting a chariot to its horses. This control gives tremendous power in yoga; pranayama is the control, or mastery, of the breath.

Pranayama practices are highly potent and bring about direct changes in consciousness. No yoga practice is complete without the inclusion of pranayama.”

These definitions tell us that pranayama means to restrain/restrict or enhance/increase prana, and that regardless of the approach, it’s a crucial teaching to turn to as sincere yoga students.

Pranayama practices exist to awaken, energize, soothe or support your various sheaths, most notably the physical, energetic, and mental & emotional bodies.

When you use your breath to care for these sheaths, the subtler ones (wisdom & spirit bodies) can come online and be part of your life.

So, the next time you need to feel alive, please remember this lengthy teaching & turn to practices (like the ones below) that can support your vitality!

Practices to support feeling alive:

Enjoy whichever practice(s) you choose, and thank you for wanting to practice yoga differently & holistically!

Allie, xx

Hey! I’m Allie.

I’m a self-growth student, freedom-seeker, yoga teacher and the founder of a tight-knit online yoga community: the Body Mind Soul Studio. I’m here to teach you how to transform your life on-and-off-the-mat with a holistic yoga practice.

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If your practice has waned, if your yoga journey feels lonely or you like the way I share yoga’s teachings, then this is where you need to be. Join me once a month, for free, to practice yoga as a community.