top of page

Prana Parasites

Prana is a Sanskrit word used in Hindu and yogic philosophy that has a number of interpretations in English, including "life force," "energy" and "vital principle." From the Sanskrit, an, meaning "movement" and "to breathe," and pra, meaning "forth," prana means “breathing forth,” and refers to the idea that vital or life force energy is always dynamic. When someone is healthy and balanced, prana flows freely through the seven chakras.

In Biology, a parasite is an organism that lives and feeds on or in an organism of a different species and causes harm to its host. A “prana parasite” therefore refers to a bad habit which drains our life force and prevents us from wholeheartedly pursuing our passions.



#1 The Ego

Although everyone has an ego, you can be more or less aware of it, as well as more or less influenced by it. Generally, wherever you are, your ego is too. According to Ryan Holiday, at any given point in life, we are in one of three phases: Aspiration (when we are working to make an impact in the world), success, and failure. Handing over the reins to your ego in any of these phases causes you to lose touch with reality, with others, and your own needs. Ego takes you ahead of yourself and denies the possibility of, but often catapults you straight into, failure. Thus, a very pronounced ego may even attract more prana parasites.

How do you know your ego is at work?

Your ego is guiding you when you waste precious life doing things you don’t like, to prove yourself to people you don’t respect, and to get things you don’t want. Do you find yourself looking at other people and making their approval the standard you feel compelled to meet? That's your ego. Nourishing this parasite depletes your prana stocks because it forces you to override the insticts of your true self.

#2 Bottling

“How are you doing?” – Bottler: “Yeah fine, enough about me, let’s talk about you!”

“Are you okay?” – Bottler: “Sure, no need to worry about me.”

In her book Emotional Agility, Susan David sums up bottling behavior as “tie it up, push it forward, move on.” Bottlers bury their emotions because they see them as distractions from what they are ‘supposed’ to be doing. These people often force themselves to think positively and beat themselves up for any negative thoughts. Bottlers unconsciously use up much of their limited prana resources for denying their own emotions, without any chance of succeeding long-term.

Eventually, the suppressed emotions inevitably surface in unintended ways, a process that psychologists call emotional leakage. Think of it this way: You’ve left a full water bottle in the car in freezing winter. The water in the bottle will freeze, expand, and ultimately bring the bottle to burst. The same is true for pent up emotions.

#3 Masks and Armors

More than ever before, in today's world we feel the need to put on social masks and armors to gain approval, or simply to survive. This desire to hide, to be seen as someone allegedly better, smarter, more desirable, stems from the myth that vulnerability is weakness. In the words of Brené Borwn, "we have confused feeling with failing and emotions with liabilities." But the opposite is true: Weakness often stems from a lack of vulnerability, because we refuse to acknowledge how and where we are tender.

Imagine you had to walk through life in one of those ancient 20-30kg heavy armors that clank and rattle and slow you down. Keeping up your social armor or mask is just as exhausting, and demands attention that you then lack for your passions and duties. If you're constantly fretting about how you appear while doing something, it's likely that you'll never manage to actually do it.

#4 Secondhand Stress

I wasn’t even aware of this phenomenon until I joined Kendall Strampel’s phenomenal community zoom call yesterday. Secondhand stress is the stress that we take on from our environment. As Kendall explained, this prana parasite makes us contagious, turns us into a super-spreader of stress so to speak, because our environment in turn senses and takes on our stress.

I'm sure you've experienced this in one form or another - you came home to your spouse/partner/flat mate/parents and immediately sensed the tense atmosphere of stress. Because humans are empaths, our systems register other people's stress as a danger to our own wellbeing. Communication of our feelings is key to stress relief, but secondhand stress often prevents that communication from happening when it's most needed. According to Jordan Friedman, MPH, stress management speaker, author and founder of, especially children are susceptible to this: When parents seem too busy, secondhand stress stops their kids from saying what's on their minds because they feel their problems pale in comparison. It also gives them the feeling of having done something inherently wrong, of having somehow caused their parents' stress.

Now, please don't read this as a hint that you should from now on suppress all stress - that's exactly the bottling behaviour we want to avoid. The good news is, you are the gatekeeper of the stress you let into your life. In my last blog post I talked about boundaries, and here we need them again to protect our limited supply of prana.


Prana Recharging Practices

We all have the occasional ego flare-up or confidence crash that leads to masking and armoring up, and I’m not trying to pathologize these. Sometimes overreacting is human. But if these parasites continuously impair your quality of life and take you away from the situations, people and projects you are passionate about, you need to take these signs seriously. Let me suggest a few practices you can easily integrate into your daily life to protect your prana.

  1. Mindful Movement - This can be Yoga, and while that’s my personal favorite type of mindful movement, it could also be something else entirely, like dancing, a walk in nature, or even cleaning. Do these activities by yourself in order to limit distractions.

  2. Journaling - I keep repeating this because I have experienced the benefits of journaling myself: Write. It. Down. Whatever “It” may be, I promise you it will look a lot less scarier on paper than it does in your head. Even if you feel you have no words to describe it, put pen to paper and watch what happens. For the optimal journaling experience, make sure you are in a safe space where you feel comfortable and won’t be interrupted.

  3. Meditation - This week, I recommitted to a daily ten minute meditation to start my day, and I can already feel the improvement in my energy levels. Whether guided by a teacher or practiced alone, meditation offers you a total reboot at any time of the day where you close your eyes and take a break from the constant mental chatter.

  4. Pranayama - Literally means “life force extension,” and is used in Yoga classes to refer to the breating practices. How we breathe has a profound influence on mind and body and also happens to be the most accessible tool for us to intervene against prana parasites. Lately I have particularly enjoyed practicing Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, whenever I feel I need to rebound and rebalance. To ensure that you are doing it safely, I would advise you to only practice pranayama with a qualified teacher.

  5. Professional Help - In the worst-case scenario, these prana parasites can turn into a fully-fledged depression or burnout, in which case professional help is the only sensible path to take.

As always, thank you for reading, until next week,

Elisabeth Xx

14 Ansichten0 Kommentare

Aktuelle Beiträge

Alle ansehen


The Itch

bottom of page