Increasing Chi (Prana)November 5, 2007
Some methods of increasing the flow of Chi or Prana in the body
The first thing new practitioners of yoga or tai chi want to experience is the feeling of internal energy also known as ki, chi or prana. This feeling manifesting as something like club soda pulsating thru the body gives new practitioners the incentive to continue with their practice. One of the most important methods of increasing the flow of energy thru the meridians is the ability to relax all the muscles, tendons and ligaments. The whole body must be gradually opened up using only enough muscular strength to hold the posture. In tai chi as the whole body starts to relax the limbs start to feel really heavy. Greater relaxation means greater heaviness exerting a pulling sensation on the body. In the practice of the tai chi form done over a long time the whole body experiences an opening. The form becomes extremely hard to perform and after one round usually taking at least 20 minutes you are drained and need to rest. To the observer it appears that you are not exerting yourself, however the practitioner feels as if the whole body was being pulled apart. The more relaxation, the heavier the limbs, the heavier the limbs the more the meridians open. The more the meridians open the greater the flow of energy thru them. After many moons of practice the energy accumulates in the center of gravity and from there pulsates throughout the whole body. The cornerstone of relaxation practice is holding the postures for longer and longer periods of time without moving. One of the best postures to hold is standing like a tree (this posture is explained in the questions and answer section)
In yoga the process differs slightly in that the practitioner relaxes into the poses and at the same time stretches and extends the entire body from the bottom of the feet to the tip of the fingers. This stretching must be done in a relaxed manner. Relaxing, stretching, opening and extending all at the same time pulls the meridians open and energy starts to pulsate thru the entire body. The energy could manifest not only with the club soda feeling but with heat or coolness. Different postures open up different meridians and the practitioner can feel the different meridians opening all over their body. The energy can be felt in the brain and the sexual organs. The path of the meridians can now be drawn on the surface of the body. That is the way acupuncture meridians were plotted. After yoga practice the hands can be rubbed together and the energy can be felt between the palms as they are held one inch apart facing each other. As the hands are moved into different positions like facing upwards the energy will move into the base of the palms. Practice different hand positions and feel the energy moving. When the energy develops with the passage of time you can move energy in other people’s meridians while passing your hands one or two inches from them.
Believe it or not diet is the second most important method of increasing energy. Heavy red meat diets clog up the meridians causing the energy to stagnate. Plant bases diets open the meridians and increase the flow of energy. Many people actually put some animal protein in their diets in order to alleviate the lightheadedness that can result from energy moving upward too fast. We all respond to diet changes differently and experimentation is needed in order to arrive at the right diet.
Control of the breath is right up there with diet and relaxation. In yoga pranayama or breathing exercises really supercharge the body with increased energy. Pranayama is most effective when practiced before meditation as the ability to concentrate is increased after breathing exercises. The ability to hold the breath for long periods of time results in the slowing down of the thought process, enhancing meditation. However be wary of the length of time you practice breath retention.
So there you have it. The effects of relaxation, diet and breath control will increase your flow of prana resulting in better performance in the internal arts and health. Remember that it is a combination of mindfulness in your practice, cultivating spiritual growth, resulting in your ability to stay on the road without expectation of the results at the end of the road. Spiritual growth slowly manifests. The mind calms, heart and soul unite and healing takes place. Finding your innate route inward in order to realize your real self.