Nickie Hanley is a teacher at Yoke and Move Yoga studios, and one of the brains behind the Fight Famine Charity event at Yoke Yoga. She is a big Prana Chai fan and wanted to get us involved with this worthy cause. We had a quick chat to her about yoga and the event.

Tell us a little bit about Yoke and Move Yoga and how you came to teach there.

I work at these two studios and have done so for quite a few years. I was a student originally at Union Yoga and Move approached me to teach there.

Tell us about the Fight Famine Yoga Charity Event and how it came about.

The famine in South Sudan is the worst since 1945 and has the same amount of people that populate Australia starving over there... whenever I can help others I like to! Especially starving children.

How long have you been practising yoga and how has it impacted your life?

Practising 9 years or so and teaching 7 it is in my life every day and would not have it any other way.

What advice do you have for those wanting to start a regular yoga practice, but are having trouble getting going?

Go to a foundations or beginners class for a few times before moving on... the foundations will help you progress more easily and quicker.

Prana – more than just a name

Prana Chai – we didn’t just choose the name because we liked the sound of it. The concept of prana is an essential part of how we hand create our chai.

Originating in Hindu philosophy, the word Prana means “life force” in Sanskrit. It is known by many other names in different cultures – “chi” to the Chinese, “mana” to Polynesians and “Qi” to the Japanese – but the principles are basically the same. Prana is the life force or energy found in all living things. An invisible, physical substance responsible for the body’s life, heat and maintenance. When we are low on prana, we get sick in the body and mind, when we have enough prana, every part of our body is healthy. We absorb prana from the environment around us and what we eat, and we can control its movement around our body with mindful movements and breath.

Plants are veritably vibrant with prana, and much of our own prana can come from eating plant based food. However, the prana in something diminishes the more processed it is. An apple picked from the tree will contain more prana than one that has been transported, stored and sold at a supermarket, and even more than one that is cooked and frozen into a packaged apple pie.

We can therefore increase our own prana by eating a diet full of fresh fruit, vegetables and grains. While processing food diminishes an item’s levels of prana, dehydrating it does not, and dried fruit, nuts and spices are also great sources of prana. Preparing food with love and cooking using natural methods will also help food to retain its prana and nutrients.

It is with this philosophy in mind that we prepare Prana Chai. Handmade, using only natural ingredients, we prepare our chai with love so that it can retain the prana for us to enjoy with love.

But increasing our prana is only half of it. Yoga uses ansanas (movements) and pranayama (breathing methods) to move the prana around the body and direct it to where it is needed. One of the main purposes of yoga is to create a physical and energetic balance by allowing the movement of prana to bring change to the body and mind. 

In the current world of fad diets and supplements, it helps to remember that there is something that we get from nature that cannot be substituted by a pill. We all need the prana life force to feel happy and healthy in our bodies and that is something that we can only receive from the natural environment around us.


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