Prana or Breath is a Necessary Part of Training

After a great warmup, Kevin Gauthier (right) leads trail runners on the Mills Creek Trail at Lake James State Park. Afterwards, runners enjoy a shaded yoga session featuring breath work and visualization techniques meant to raise the energy of runners up and off the feet, knees, and hips and INTO their natural surroundings.

After a great warmup, Kevin Gauthier (right) leads trail runners on the Mills Creek Trail at Lake James State Park. Afterwards, runners enjoy a shaded yoga session featuring breath work and visualization techniques meant to raise the energy of runners up and off the feet, knees, and hips and INTO their natural surroundings.

Prana, or vital life force, is the Sanskrit word for the energy that permeates everything in the universe. A runner can better harness his (or her!) breath in ways that shift awareness within by withdrawing the prana into the spine and brain, where he then experiences higher levels of consciousness. When translated to running, prana consciousness delivers lift, tone, direction, and power.

We can learn to increase running efficiency through connection with prana. By engaging Prana Vayu (energizing breath) and Vyana Vayu (distributing breath) we can reduce running-related injuries and learn to BE the joy that surrounds us in the woods, on the trail, up and down the hills.

Without Prana, we cannot exist. Prana is breath in life form; it is the physical inhale and exhale, the actual action, and the energy that is delivered.

By controlling this life-force, we’re able to connect on a deep level to higher levels of consciousness and perception, and even achieve enlightenment.

In trail running, we have to shift our habit from a rhythmic action to a much higher perception and readiness. Tree roots, gravel, hairpin turns, holes and logs all create obstacles that could easily cause us to trip and fall. In addition, a runner who is in the woods is much more likely than someone who's running roads or tracks to be interested in enjoying nature and the unexpected.

Two breath actions are key in training a runner to joyfully and lightly take the trails, staying up and out of the feet, hips, and knees, keenly aware of surrounding and expanding energy to all of the senses: Prana Vayu and Vyana Vayu.

Prana Vayu

Prana Vayu is the heartbeat and breath. Through breathing techniques, the energy in the body is withdrawn into the spine and the upper body to create potential energy, ready for use. It is responsible for INTAKE. To engage Prana Vayu, practice drawing breath IN through the sensory openings in the head (nose, eyes, ears, third eye), then hold a moment. Exhale by releasing energy through the third eye, or point in the center of the forhead. Prana Yayu is responsible for positive impressions, especially in anture, and enjoying sensory things like colors, sounds, and aromas.

Vyana Vayu

Vyana Vayu (pronounced Vi-AH-nah) maintains the muscular body. It is responsible for distribution. It runs outward to the limbs and major muscle systems in the body and shows up as good circulation. For Vyanu Vayu work, runners focus on inhalation and expansion, then retention of breath (holding AFTER Inhale). A great Vyana practice is to place the hands on your chest, INHALE --> Bring the arms out, expanding from the center out into the periphery, filling up the lungs; hold 2 seconds; EXHALE --> Place the hands back on your chest. Keep your focus at the heart center. Think of poses as mini heart pumps. Also, engaging in activities that give you joy and touch your heart are ways to distribute stuck Vyanu Vayu.

Consider whatever activity you engage in as being helped by intention and breath work. Add LIFE to your activites to connect body, mind, and soul in everything you love.


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