Energy is the capacity to do work, its form can be transferred/transformed from one physical form to another. This process is a somewhat complicated fuel source and is a concept I have just recently begun to understand. Energy can manifest itself in positive and negative ways, in turn alters how you react to certain situations. This is another component of yoga that I am in the process of understanding. If I am being honest it may take me my entire life to figure this thing out!
In yogic philosophy your energy is created by prana (the life force energy obtained through breath); the flow of this energy combined with mental control is how one achieves balance. How we breathe will influence the path and quality of the movement of this breath within.
The Sanskrit term of air currents of energy is vayu and our breath is comprised of five varying currents. To help visualize this, try to mentally list all the different words we have to describe wind current in the English language. A quick thesaurus search on Google reveals all these synonymous words such as: Mistral, breeze, gust, gale, blast, flurry, whisk, whiff, puff, whirlwind, flutter, wafting, zephyr, trade winds,r, sirocco, tempest, blow, cyclone, typhoon, twister, hurricane, sandstorm, Chinook, etc… Our breath functions the same way, these currents within us has a different name with different meanings due to the path it takes.
Now for a quick nerd session or rather explanation of the five Vayu’s. Prana Vayu is forward moving air - this is what you inhale and it typically sets things in motion and governs the upper portion of the body (predominantly the head). Apana Vayu is the air that moves away from us and it governs elimination within our body. This is the physical (excretion) as well and mental (junk drawer of emotional bullshit, baggage, inner turmoil, or whatever lovely word you have for these), in that it helps to eliminate negative emotions that activate the motor and sensory cortex's.
Thirdly we have Udana Vayu which is considered the upward moving air and it oversees the growth of the body - it is the vital energy within our throat that directs speech and self-expression. Samana Vayu is the balancing air and it governs digestion within us. This is a very transformational vayu as it helps us collect ourselves and be in a state of equilibrium. Vyana Vayu is the outward air and governs circulation within our entire body. This provision of strength and allows prana to do its job.
These vayu’s when in unison have a symbiotic relationship. Meaning that all these energy currents want to be friends and forge a ridiculously strong bond within ourselves. When they battle against one another, the become imbalanced and this increases physical and mental angst.
So now that I've bored you with a breath lessen let's discuss why I feel understanding this is important. Yoga is all about learning about yourself and striving for balance in your life, it's a work within coupled with a workout. We are stuck with our mind and body for an average of 82 years, might as well get to know ourselves in the process, eh? These breath currents are opposing forces that work to keep us vital and energized or can combat one another when blocked.
Energy is something I have always had ALOT of. I honestly don't know how my Mom dealt with me as a kid. I guess 35 hours a week of gymnastics helped to keep that a little more in check. I am sure you could imagine my difficulty when I, the equivalent to the energizer bunny on imaginary steroids, is forced into an early retirement from sports. Sport was my outlet… my way to release… Without it, I became a bit moody.
I had no idea I could control this energy until recently. I thought it was normal to not be able to sit still. To always feel like I have to do something because it felt like a way to let some of my energy go. Fortunately during my teacher training, I learned that with discipline and awareness I can have a proper outlet for this energy and learn how to control it. I am still at the beginning stages of learning how to control myself but I am definitely trying and making some progress.
A great example of this, is when I am hungry. I used to be mean to the people around me, in particular to those I love. It got to the point where people would carry extra bars on them just to curb my “beast.” That's what I called the version of myself that manifests when I am hungry. Honestly, if you haven’t seen this version of myself you are one lucky soul. I could have been the perfect subject for a Snicker’s Bars ad as their slogan is “You're not you when you 're hungry.” Fact.
When I feel my hunger spike I now try to communicate as clearly as possible that this need must be met. I then become very quiet, breath and look inwards. This allows the reptilian brain (oldest part of the brain, mainly used for survival), a chance to shut off so that my neomammalian brain (neocortex - higher cognitive thought) can click back on and be a somewhat rational human being again.
I am applying this energy awareness to other components of my life too. I can now sit still without this inner voice saying “Sky get up and do something.” I am becoming aware of when I have too much energy and need to step on my mat more than once that day. I am becoming more in tuned wit when I need to clear my mind and switch gears because I feel a rage bubble building in my stomach. Learning how to understand my own energy is something I never thought much of until recently. It has given me quite a bit of insight into how to make my life run a little smoother.
So I encourage to take a look at your energy, do you notice patterns throughout the day that translates into a shift in your mood? Can you feel the location of your angst is it in your throat or in your stomach? The throat could mean you are not emoting your self authentically and are now experiencing cognitive dissonance (misalignment of Udana vayu). Or perhaps its in your stomach which is usually related to Apana Vayu meaning you are not eliminating the negative physical or mental turmoil. Misdirected energy seems like a wasted outlet, why not use that energy and apply it to your passions? Would it not be amazing if we used our energy to fuel us in the avenues we wish to share our energy, rather than getting stuck within ourselves?