Cultivating Prana and the “Yoga High”
Yes! The rumors are true. Yoga can get you high. Not just high from the natural endorphins that can come with any type of exercise routine, but full on out of body and mind level high. This is an experience that builds with a focused and disciplined practice. It is associated with the high levels of pranic energy a practitioner can maintain. Meaning, it doesn’t just hang around a few minutes just after an activity then dissipates. No, it adds on and continues over a longer period of time (with constant practice throughout a lifetime). When pranic energy overflows the practitioner’s “container” it can result in accelerated levels of energetic occurrences like full body euphoria, visions and involuntary movement; which has been known in yoga traditions (like in the Kripalu lineage) as stage three.
“The pursuit of the yoga high is a distraction from the purpose of yoga and other internal disciplines.
However, the pursuit of the yoga high is a distraction from the purpose of yoga and other internal disciplines. This distraction is usually a result of the unwillingness to dedicate to the full journey of the practice; the patience it takes and challenges. It is also due to yogis reporting the result of their practice with all the ‘good parts’, but not explaining how they got there. The asset of that is, it attracts people to the practice. The downside is it can be misleading. So here, we will introduce how it’s done; and from personal experience, the full journey is worth it. It makes you that much stronger to what ever comes your way in life.
The Pro’s & Con’s
There are pro’s and con’s to this effect in yoga. One pro is that it has the feeling of being high, related to the level of practice a person has. The greater (and consistency of) the level of practice, the greater the euphoric feeling. The major con is that people can lose their practice in the pursuit of getting high. Just like any other addiction, the pursuit of the high reduces the quality of the experience.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s, there are many supernatural abilities listed as attainable to the yogi. However, the book then finishes to say that the pursuit of these abilities is a distraction from the purpose of yoga and the focus of unifying with God. The same applies to the “yoga high”. The intention and goals for a personal yoga practice must be greater. Although, I have to admit, it is a nice side effect.
How is this Experience Gained?
The key to having a pranic experience is to have a practice that builds prana within the body with as little expression of excessive energy as is safely possible. In yoga, this management of energy is called brahmacharya. Brahmacharya typically involves abstinence from sex, drugs of all kinds, and adding a clarifying diet. Pranic experience also involves mental and emotional focus or pratyahara, where a practitioner will withdraw from the physical senses and focuses on their internal dynamics. Pranic energy may be noticed by mentally following sensation as it flows through the body. Moreover, energy may also manifest through the emotions. So watching how the emotions flow through the body is another way to develop an awareness of prana. Steps to accomplish these practices and more, are well listed out and categorized.
The broader breakdown are listed as types of yoga. Hatha, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga. Keep in mind, this is just a short list of a larger guideline. Hatha yoga is the physical expression. It is the one that is mostly practiced amongst westerners and the one that is more tangible. In the traditional sense, Hatha is used as the doorway to a deeper experience. Once we can physically feel the practice of yoga, we can begin to transition it to a behavioral and spiritual practice. It is the method of bringing to light where we stand and how we physically exist in this lifetime.
Karma yoga amplifies our “relationship” with and towards others. The way we become aware of our coexistence is our willingness to serve others in a selfless manner. Volunteering is that practice. It’s not to say this task is easy, but it speaks volumes. Through volunteering, we practice the skillful actions to uplift the lives of others. We learn how to see the Divine in each person, and develop non-attachment to the self indulged outcome of our actions.
Bhakti yoga is the ritualistic way we stay encouraged to maintain our practice throughout our lifetime. Through chanting, mantra, and prayer in repetitive soundings; we keep in mind our intentions and actions of devotion.
These actions of practice, when dedicated, can change our way of thinking, let go of poor habits and ideas that keeps us from full expression, and dares us to experience something more than just ourselves. When this happens we begin to experience that yoga high.