One God, Many Faces
One Family, many races
One truth, many paths
One heart, many complexions
One light, many reflections
One World, many imperfections
We are all one,
by Suzy Kassem
What is Prana? You’ve heard it referred to many times and never quite understood it’s meaning.
Prana is the Sanskrit word for life force energy. Similar to Chi in China or Ki in Japan, or Mana in Polynesia. It is the force that animates us, gives us life. In other words, when we die, the body is still there intact but the life force energy has left.
We receive it directly through our breath, but also from the live foods we eat, fresh water, the sun, from trees and vegetation, and even through the love of other people and creatures, indirectly through music, inspiring works, and beautiful sights.
This life force energy that animates our physical body flows through 72,00 nadis (energy channels) that the ancient yogis mapped out through a receptive, intuitive experience (yoga) that they felt energized and sustained their physical and energy structure, hence we feel good after our practice of postures and breathing!
Yoga teachers will often refer to “your practice,” which means your individual experience with yoga as it develops over time. The amazing thing about yoga is that your practice is always evolving and changing, so it never gets boring. Although the poses themselves do not change, your relationship to them will. Anyone can start a yoga practice, even if you don’t feel like you are very flexible or very strong. These things will develop over time. Another great thing about thinking about “your practice” is that it encourages the noncompetitive spirit of yoga. One of the most difficult, but ultimately most liberating things about yoga is letting go of the ego and accepting that no one is better than anyone else. Everyone is just doing their best on any given day. Quoted from Ann Pizer.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra describes an asana (posture) as having two important qualities: sthira and sukha. Sthira is steadiness and alertness. Sukha refers to the ability to remain comfortable and experience ease in the posture. Both qualities are to be present to the same degree when practicing any posture. In the beginning, we are only able to hold a position for a short time and feel that balance. As we continue to practice, our stamina, strength and flexibility grow and we can hold longer in the poses and still feel balanced with sthira and sukha. Try not to let your ambition and drive keep you from remembering this important combination. It is one of the tricky challenges to your true yoga practice.
One of the most important teaching of Hatha Yoga is the way to live in balance with the opposites. Ha means sun, and Tha means moon. Innate to our lives is the co-existence of all aspects of existence.
Light | Dark
Cold | Hot
Still | Moving