Contained Body Principle | Principle of Whole-Body Integration
“A yogi is a person whose prana is maintained inside the body.” – Krishnamacharya
Prana is life-force. Its vibration and movements are deep support for everything that we do as human beings. Our prana is precious and should be respected and preserved. As a self-study, hatha yoga is the study of prana. It is prana that supports our every breath, thought, feeling, and action. As yogis we should be serious about the maintenance of prana inside our bodies. Without good prana there is no life force with which to inquire deeply or to be effective in the world.
Often in asana practice prana is dissipated rather than preserved and nurtured. When a yoga practice is too vigorous for an individual prana is depleted rather than enhanced. Although a vigorous practice may be good for an individual, it must be built up to slowly so that prana is not wasted. Very often, serious yoga practitioners will inadvertently destroy their own prana through unskillful practice.
Another way that prana is compromised in asana practice is by allowing sheering forces to flow off of the joints, especially in weight bearing postures. In movement, gravity, weight, and directional forces should flow through the body — without sheering forces unintentionally leaving the body — especially at the joints — and dissipating pranic reserves. These sheering forces create great stress on the joints. When these forces are felt in the joints the muscles and soft tissue structures around the joints have to work extra hard to try to contain the forces and endeavor to bring integrity into the joint. This creates tension and hardening in the soft tissue. This is not the way to direct prana flow. It is unhealthy and only leads to the myriad expressions of muscular imbalance around all the major joints.