Prana is major component on the journey of understanding one’s self and our relationship to the inner and outer worlds. Everything is governed by Prana or life force. So as Yogis, part of our discipline and mastery is to learn how to work with it. I think we can all relate to feeling a bit drained at times. That’s why so many of us look to Kundalini Yoga and chanting for a boost.
I have been a touring mantra musician for over 7 years along with my partner Jaya Lakshmi. A key aspect to maintaining this lifestyle is keeping my prana vibrant. What does that entail? First and foremost it entails conscious breathing. The breath is the most consistent way prana enters our systems and the way we breathe is so crucial.
Yogi Bhajan placed such an emphasis on how we breathe. How many classes and meditations did he teach where breath focus was a primary component? He knew that focusing on the breath as well as using different forms of breathing would lead to shifts in our consciousness. Pranayama (breath control) plays an integral part of not only my personal sadhana but throughout my day. I try my best to breathe deeply and consciously, especially in particularly challenging moments, because this is often when we tend to breathe more shallow and drop into unconscious patterns.
One of my personal challenges of late have been how to not drop into self doubt. Self doubt, as we know, is a major drain of prana. The mind starts spinning all its’ thoughts on who I could or should be, comparison, thoughts and feeling so lack and it just goes on. As I began to notice a habit forming around these thought patterns, I felt compelled to shift these and embark on a sadhana to bring clarity where there was doubt. I decided to do a 40 day sadhana of 2.5 hours of long Ek Ong Kar chanting. This practice totally aligns the chakras, uplifts the prana and bring the mind and soul to align with its’ destiny. I had a total reset after this practice and continue to feel clearer and clearer about the next phase of my life.
Another way I help myself to remember to breathe consciously and to elevate my prana is to write songs and to chant. Chanting in itself is a pranayama. Often, a mantra japa is given to a specific breath pattern or rhythmic meter. So along this subject, there is a new song on my latest album called, “Breathe”. I coupled it with the mantra, “Prana Apana Shushmana Hari-Hari Har Hari Har Hari Har Hari”. Yogi Bhajan said this mantra balances the energy from the inside so you can deal with the outside. That as much as you chant this, that much will return back to you. In addition, that it can stop cosmic disturbances. I felt this mantra to go perfectly with the English words of the chorus, “breathe, breathe in this life, breathe in this love, breathe into your hearts.”
Our state of mind has a huge influence on prana. If along with conscious breathing we add intention, this exponentially impacts the pranic intake. If we breathe and have the intention to bring more love, peace, joy, sweetness, etc into our lives, it will happen. Where we focus our minds also directs the flow of prana. So in the case of this song, we are directing it to our hearts. The heart center governs the flow of blood and air at the physical level, the air element at the subtle level, love and compassion at the emotional level and ultimately, the seat of the soul. By default, this is where we should be directing the prana unless we have specific areas we would like to bring prana.
Mantra along with breath are one of the most potent ways to bring more prana into your life. Not only that, but mantra brings an incredibly sublime, elevated and refined form of prana. Thus why we feel so good after chanting. When I started to realize the subtleties of this, my music shifted more and more into mantra chanting. However, I still found the use of English to be very beneficial for directing prana via my mind. So for example, I have a song on my new album called, “Love like the Sun/Ang Sung Wahe Guru”. The repetition of the mantra Ang Sung Wahe Guru is said to bring the prana into an ecstatic state. And via that ecstatic state, the english lyrics were born, “Make your love like the sun and shine down on everyone”.
One of my favorite times to chant is for sunset. I love to sing to the sun as it sets of the horizon. This song came through in one of those moments. But as the great Sufi poet Hafiz shared with us,
“Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, you owe me.
Look what happens with a love like that, it lights up the whole world.”
Better yet, it gives life to the whole world. If we as yogis have the tools to uplift our prana, to elevate our consciousness, then we can also use that to benefit all beings. To radiate, teach, pray, chant, and serve as many beings as possible. Because the more of us that our lifted up, the more we will see life on this Earth reach sublime states.
As a dedicated Kundalini Yogi for over 12 years, I have experienced the power of Kundalini Yoga and its’ effects on prana. Because of my musical inclination, mantra chanting moved to the forefront of my lifestyle. I understood my mission to help inspire others to chant, to create music that people could benefit from simply listening to it. Just having the music and chanting going on in the background uplifts prana. By the grace of God and Guru, I and Jaya Lakshmi continue to do this.
There, of course, are so many more dimensions and components to prana. This particular blog focuses on breath and mantra in particular, but restful sleep, vibrant food, and uplifting company also play a huge part. Being a lover of this Earth, I am also uplifted majorly by my time with communing with nature. All these things support my health and vibrancy while touring. May the music that comes through me continue to uplift all those in come in contact with. May we all be blessed with vibrant and abundant prana. May all beings benefit from our dedication to uplift our consciousness. Sat Nam.
Join Ananda and Jayalakshmi for a Yoga Chant & Dance Retreat in beautiful Breitenbush Hot Springs in Detroit, Oregon July 16-19