I wrote a blog post back in December on the 5 "Koshas" or "Sheaths" in yoga and Ayurveda: Annamaya kosha (the physical body), Pranamaya Kosha (the energy body), Manomaya Kosha (psycho/emotional body), Vijnamayakosha (Wisdom body), and Anandamayakosha (bliss body). You can access that post for a deeper explanation of the 5 Koshas here:
https://www.shiningwatersyoga.com/single-post/2017/12/12/5-Koshas The Annamaya Kosha is pretty obvious, as it relates to our physical body and bodily systems - that which we can see. Today, I want to explore the Pranamaya Kosha, or "energy body". Pranamaya kosha includes our "prana" or lifeforce that sustains us. Without prana, we would not be alive. It also includes the chakra system (more on that later). But what IS "prana"? We often translate breath as prana....but breath is only one kind of prana. Food and water are also prana - they give our body energy. In Sanskrit, prana means "vital force" or "life force". We cannot see prana, but we can feel prana. The easiest way to do this is through the breath. Taking a deep breath in, feel the expansiveness, the uplifting energy of the inhale. As you exhale, and the breath leaves the body, feel a release, a relaxation, a "stillness". If you can imagine taking oxygen into the lungs as you inhale, and this oxygen mixing with our blood and being circulated to every cell in the body - this is prana. You can also feel the Life force when you eat clean, healthy, whole foods. Anyone who has ever done a food cleanse, may notice they feel sluggish the first few days (especially if they are coming off of stimulants like caffeine), but once they are off things like sugar, alcohol and caffeine and are eating whole organic foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and possibly proteins like fish - they may feel more "energy" - this is also prana.
Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan and Indian medicine acknowledge the concept of energy systems in healing. According to Chinese medicine, our body consists of a system of meridians that channel energy through the body, that can be manipulated by acupuncture. Most of you are probably familiar with acupuncture, and may have had this treatment. Acupuncture inserts needles into points of the body where there are blockages in a person's "Qi" or energy. Needling helps release these blocks to restore optimal health. In yoga, we talk about "nadis" rather than meridians. According to Tantric texts, there are 72,000 nadis that channel energy to every cell in our body. We can release blockages in the nadis through pranayama and asana practices. In yoga, the 3 main nadis are Ida, Pingala and Sushumna which run along the spinal column. Here, we also find the chakras or "wheels" of energy at the base of the spine - the perineum, the coccyx or lower abdomen, the solar plexus, the heart center, throat, third eye, crown of the head and the back of the head where Brahmins grow their tuft of hair. These primary energy centers correspond with different bodily systems, stages of development and psychological needs and desires moving from the most basic needs to the higher spiritual ones. We are healthy when there are no blockages and energy or prana is able to flow freely along the spine and throughout our body.
Reiki is another healing system from Japan that is based on Pranamaya kosha or the energy body. In Reiki, the healer channels energy to the receiver through his or her hands - generally following the chakras or energy centers along the spine. The Japanese word for this energy is "Ki", the Chinese refer to "Qi" and yoga refers to "prana". One of the differences between yoga therapy and physical therapy, is that yoga treats the whole person - including the energy body and the mental/emotional body, as well as the physical body. We use techniques to help release blockages in Pranamaya kosha that can affect Annamaya kosha and Manomaya kosha. If you are interested in learning more about the energy body and modern advances in medicine that confirm the existence of the energy body, check out this article on Uplift on modern day science proving the existence of energy meridians: http://upliftconnect.com/science-proves-meridians-exist