What is Energy?
Across the world, scientists and spiritual seekers alike have attempted to understand energy. In the yogic tradition, energy is often called prana, or the vital life force energy that moves in, out and through us. Buddhist traditions often call this qi, also spelled chi.
The Law of Conservation of Energy
According to the Law of Conservation of Energy, energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be moved and transmuted from one form into another. There are many forms of energy, including light, sound, heat, movement, electricity, chemical, and gravitational. This energy can be stored, such as in the way we store body fat. Energy can be active or kinetic, actively transmuting from one form into another, such as in digestion. 1
We are constantly giving and receiving energy. Everything from watching shows and passing billboards to engaging in eye contact with a stranger and touching a friend is an exchange of energy.
Anything that physically goes into or out of the body is a way that we receive or emit energy. For example, eating food and receiving sunlight is a way of receiving energy. Excreting waste is a way of releasing energy from the body. We also passively release some of this energy through body heat. Even breathing is a way of receiving and emitting energy.
Most of us go through life giving and receiving energy totally unconsciously. When the flow of energy is unconscious, it can cause us to be like chaff in the wind, going this way and that without any understanding of why we are doing it. Just like a song repeating in our head, much of what we think and even say is adopted from things we have seen and heard from our parents, friends, social media, and the news. This is so automatic that we often think our thoughts, beliefs, and actions are our own.
Bandhas: From Unconscious to Conscious Control
For those who embark on the path of yoga and meditative practices that bring awareness to the inner workings of the mind, it becomes increasingly clear that much of our mind chatter, the words we say, and even our actions are, in fact adopted from various people and media we have come across over the years. Upon this realization, now we have the conscious ability to choose which thoughts, beliefs, and actions we would like to keep and which we would like to reject.
Going further, once it becomes clear the amount of energetic information that comes toward us and that we emit toward others on a daily basis, some individuals may desire to take steps to control the flow of information that we give and receive. There are many ways to do this.
In yoga practice, bandhas are one method of controlling the flow of energy in, out, and through the body's various gates or portals. There are many portals. Some of our major areas in the body that receive or emit energy include the sense organs such as the eyes and ears, the mouth, the throat, the genitals, and the anus.
Bandhas commonly practiced in yoga include Jalandhara Bandha or throat lock, Uddiyana bandha, or abdominal lock which draws in the low belly and the front genitals, and Mula Bandha, root lock which lifts and engages the rear genitals near the tailbone.
Types of Energy
Places we Receive and Emit Energy in the Body
The U.S. Energy Information Administration
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