Prana as Medicine Breath, Movement, Mudra, and Asana (With a Touch of Mantra)

The sages understood that we are whole and complete to begin with. Therefore, the practice of Kundalini Yoga is not to fix something. Instead, it is to awaken our potential, our dormant or hidden gifts, our creativity and talents, and align ourselves to our soul’s purpose. The original intention of Kundalini Yoga is to assist healthy people to reach their excellence and to fulfill their destiny. It was not originally intended as a healing system.

Yet many of us who practice and teach Kundalini Yoga experience its healing benefits. How does that happen? It is through the effect of the Yoga on Prana.

The components of Kundalini Yoga practice: breath, asana, mudra, mantra, drishti, bandha, and bhavana – by themselves or in combination — are the practical methods of directing the flow of Prana. The specific sequence and coordination of breath with rhythmic movement that comprise kriya form the cornerstone of Kundalini Yoga. All of it is to build, support, balance, and direct the flow of Prana.

The transformational and healing experience of Kundalini Yoga is all about the Prana.

The conversation about Prana can fill more than one book. So, for this short article, let’s bring our focus to Prana in relationship to breath, movement, mudra and asana, (with a touch of mantra) and how these impact the physical body. We use the language of yogic tradition in this article, instead of the language of science and research.

Meridians or nadis are the pathways through which Prana flows. It is thought that these pathways are grounded in the fascia, the body’s connective tissue that contains and connects all the muscles, joints, nerve and endocrine plexuses, and organs.

Meridian pathways cross over the joints. Yogis understand that mudra—how we hold our fingers and our hands (where we bend or extend the joints)—direct the flow of Prana along the meridians in ways specific to the mudra. Asana does the same: how we position our body (where we bend or extend the joints) directs the flow of Prana along the meridians in ways specific to the asana.

Mudra and asana by themselves impact the meridians by opening a blocked pathway or by balancing the flow of Prana along the meridian. If the Prana is insufficient, mudra and asana give the meridian point a boost. If the Prana is more than sufficient, mudra and asana even it out along the pathway.

Because fascia interconnects the meridians, muscles, joints, nerve and endocrine plexuses, and organs, when we move one area of the body, movement is experienced in other parts of the body as well. Adding movement and breath to mudra and asana augments their impact.

Rhythmic movement synchronized with breath is what makes Kundalini Yoga so effective to move Prana. Meridian pathways are opened, strengthened and balanced. Prana is available to support all key functions of the body. With adequate and balanced Prana, the vital systems of mind, body and spirit restore and renew and work together again. One returns to physical and emotional well-being.

As you practice the kriya, “Experiencing the Relationship of the Pranic Body and the Physical Body” bring your sensory awareness to the flow of prana in the posture and movements within each exercise. For example, notice what happens with your breath in exercise 1, 2 and 3, simply through the movement of the mudras and the angle of the asana. Notice how the different breath patterns in exercise 4 and 5 feel to you. What is different in your experience of 6a, 6b and 6c all within cobra pose? With your attention to sensory awareness, you may feel the Prana move along the meridians in your wrists, fingers, legs, arms, and face.

The last exercise before deep relaxation integrates the entire kriya through rhythmic movement at the Pranic center between the shoulder blades. Make the focal point of the movement at the scapula instead of the arm socket and notice how your breath deepens and synchronizes with ease. This will also support your endurance over the 11 ½ minutes.

Yogis know that Prana is carried on the mantra, as the sound current resonates along the nadi. The mantra Pavan Guru is the mantra of the Pranic body. This sound current links the individual Pranic body with the Universal Pranic body and is the mantra of the Pran Bandha Mantra Meditation included here.

The meditation begins with attention to your sensory experience as you listen to and feel the mantra. Once the sound is embodied, then you chant the mantra aloud.

Bring your awareness to the meridians of your lips, tongue and upper palate as you create the sound. Hear the sound at the same time that you make it. Feel the resonance of the sound and notice how the rhythm of the mantra effects the rhythm of your breath. These simple steps further the embodiment and deepen your experience of the healing power of Prana.

When you are complete with the meditation, give yourself a minute to sit still with awareness to integrate your experience.