What Is Prana?

Posted on in On Our Radar by Simone Winter

The Importance of
Prana-Rich Food


Ironically, the next important food trend comes from the ancient yogic tradition: prana. This Sanskrit term means life energy or life force. The prefix pra means constant. An means movement-motion. Prana means constant motion. Our individuated prana originates at the moment of conception inside the womb. Prana is an energy that is responsible for our body’s life, heat, and maintenance. When we are full of prana, we feel good, look good, and feel vibrant and alive. Our energy is productive and sustained and healthy. Since this is a desirable way of experiencing this incarnation, here are a few ways in which to increase prana. These include the yogic breathing techniques of pranayama, as it is said that prana rides on the breath. Inhaling pure, clean air and having some exposure to the sun cultivates prana, as does exercise without overexertion. Our spiritual practice elevates prana, as does having nourishing relationships and walking barefoot on the earth. Another key way is to eat prana-rich food.

What is prana-rich food?

If you’re vegan, it’s food that is organic and super fresh, harvested right from the ground or plucked from the vine, the bush, the tree, or culled from the ocean. If you’re non-vegan, it’s food that is drawn from the udder, freshly laid, freshly fished, or recently butchered. Prana-rich food is what you generally find at the farmers market, your own backyard, or the health food store. Ideally, it is locally sourced and full of the seasonal energy of the sun, which is stored in its cells as biophotons. Prana-rich food tastes better, looks better, and is teeming with nutrients.

As soon as a carrot is uprooted from the ground, it begins losing prana. Conversely, the closer the food is to something that was once alive, the more prana it carries. This does not necessarily mean to eat all foods raw. Cooked food might be easier to digest, and thus its pranic benefits are more easily absorbed. Raw food might cause digestive distress, which means the prana, and the nutrients, are less easily absorbed.

Prana–rich food is freshly prepared and unprocessed, not leftover or frozen, and not homogenized or pasteurized. And definitely not microwaved. Microwaves are notorious for entirely zapping prana. Leftovers might still retain nutrition according to modern testing, but have diminished remaining prana. When food has been through the dark of the night, or the dark and cold of the refrigerator, the process of losing its aliveness has begun.

Where to source prana-rich foods?

In the likely event you don’t grow your own produce or keep livestock, or are not a hunter or don’t happen to fish off the ocean or streams, here are some pointers to help make prana-rich food choices:

» Choose bright, colorful, and vibrant foods.
» Go to farmers markets. Foods there are typically freshly picked. When you buy food in the store, chose a trusted health food store and where practical, select the locally grown stuff.
» Don’t buy foods with long shelf lives. These are likely processed, meaning that they are not “whole” anymore. The exceptions are with grains and pulses (beans and lentils). When you sprout these, they grow new life. Even after a hundred years, pulses will sprout. Nuts and seeds, dried fruits, and dried seaweeds are fine choices, but sprout them or cook them when possible to bring out their aliveness.
» Cook your food. The stagnant energy that comes from exposure to dark and cold can shift with cooking. The same is true for leftovers. We’re all busy people, so we depend on leftovers, but it’s important to heat them up, as this will enliven them. The heating of food increases the speed of the movement of the molecules and their constant motion. Try to eat freshly prepared food as much as possible. Dedicate some time of your day to cooking. Prana-rich food can be simple and quick to prepare.
» Boil your water. Unless you live near a source of pure fresh spring water, your water has stagnated in the plumbing pipes or in bottles. The same is true when you buy superior quality spring water. No matter the source, water stagnates and is improved by boiling.
» Treat your meals as sadhana—spiritual practice. It’s wise to handle and eat food with attention and dedication. Don’t be distracted by computers or television screens, nor get involved in intense conversations when eating. Try not to eat just to console yourself. Gratitude and awareness is a potent spiritual practice around food. So is making it a remembrance by diverting a small portion into an offering. Donate some food to someone else, or to an animal, or put some of the remainder, with intention, into the compost to feed the worms and other critters. That creates a relationship with the prana providing soil. Of course you can formalize this sadhana by making an actual offering to a deity, statue, or picture.

Prana is the flowing alive energy we share with the earth and the cosmos and everything in it. The diminution of prana will cause disease, and death is the prana-less state. These are good reasons to cultivate the prana in your food, your body, and your being. Prana is life, constant flow, and it tastes good too!

Simone de Winter is a longtime Ayurvedic practitioner and founder of Marin Ayurveda in San Rafael. MarinAyurveda.com

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