Prana is the most misunderstood concept in Yoga. The 9 facts on Prana, as presented here will help disperse more clouds on the same.
1. Prana is in fact?
Prana is not the air we breathe as believed to be in general. It is the omnipresent cosmic energy pervading the entire universe. The closest analogy that can be given for explaining the concept of Prana is that of the negatively charged ions of the electric energy. Breathing process is just one of the lower activities of Prana that takes place in the human body.
2. Prana manifests itself?
Prana cannot be felt, seen, created, destroyed or measured by any means existing, developed so far. It manifests itself through all movements or dynamic vibrations prevailing in universe: planetary movements, ocean currents, winds, vibrations of the electrons in an atom, working of the five senses and all the vital functions in the human body as it flows within the nadis ( as per kundilini yoga), or Chinese meridians ( as per traditional Chinese medicine system) network present within the body.
The acupressure points present on the Chinese meridians can be stimulated to control the its flow of to a specific organ. Gravitational force, radio & television signals, electrical energy, the illumination of the laptop or TV screen, warmth of the fire, roaring sound of a thunderstorm are all manifestations of the universal Prana.
3. Prana condenses into human body?
Prana pervades all living and non living matter. Matter is nothing but condensed energy, or Prana itself. Likewise human body is nothing but this energy condensed or frozen into matter. Everything making this universe is made up from a combination of just two entities: consciousness and Prana ( Energy). In fact consciousness remains innervated due to the presence of Prana in it. These two are all pervasive and present through out the expanse of the cosmos all the time.
This all pervasive consciousness is also known as universal consciousness. The universal consciousness is absolutely pure or Satvik in nature. Ego, being an impurity, when comes in contact with the universal consciousness claims a part of it as its own and thus begets individual consciousness or the sense of being a separate conscious from the whole. The desire to exist as a separate entity, which develops in a section of universal consciousness due to the presence of Ego in close proximity to it is the reason for the creation of individual consciousness.
Thus the individual consciousness is held separate from the universal consciousness by the combination of Ego and desire collectively working on it. A part of universal Prana also follows this separated chunk of consciousness which now gets transformed into matter, in order to impart it a physical form/ existence, the state of which is dictated by the quality of the desire inherent in this separated consciousness : This energy condenses into human form as the desire in the related consciousness are human in nature; it becomes a tree as the desire inherent in the related consciousness directs it to do so.
This materialized energy is the temporal representation of the Self, soul, Atman or Consciousness, all these nomenclatures stand for the same concept. The individual consciousness is self limiting in nature and is also known as Citta in Yoga. Citta means the personality complex or ” my Mind” as separated from the universal Mind. Thus this energy helps aid the seed of desire or vasana to sprout into Citta with its own characteristics and attributes.
4. It Needs to be replenished continuously?
The Prana inherent in the universal consciousness is always in equilibrium with it , or always remains in a constant measure in relation to the consciousness: neither does it gets expended or added by any means. On the contrary the moment Ego induces a sense of separate existence in the separated individual consciousness an imbalance is created in the measure of Prana with respect to it.
More Prana gets consumed in order to sustain this separated individual ( it working like a machine now) than which can be circulated back to it as was the case when this individual entity was a part of the universal consciousness. that is why this expended Prana needs to be continuously replenished from the Prana present in the external physical sources like food, water and air
5. Mind, Breath, Prana connection?
Mind, as different from brain, is nothing but a matrix of thoughts, which are again nothing but packets of energy or Prana. Our desires are inherent in our thoughts, thus Prana is directly responsible for giving life to our desires. Prana influences the Mind by influencing the thoughts and the related desires, likewise the Mind influences the Prana.
So for controlling Prana we need to control our Mind which in turn can be controlled by regulating the activities which are in voluntary control of the Mind, breathing process is one of them. Breathing is also one of the lower activities of Prana. A steady and undisturbed breath steadies the Prana which being inherent in the thoughts steadies the Mind in return. This is why regular practice of pranayama holds significance in Yoga.
6. It is the horse
Breath, being one of the lower activities of Prana, is like a horse bridled in the chariot of Citta, the other horse being the desire or Vasana. If breath prevails (Prana remains harmonised) the desires remain controlled, which steadies the Mind, and if desires prevail then the breath ( Prana) gets dis harmonised which agitates the Mind.
7. Best sources come from
The best sources of pure Prana are meditation (for the evolved souls) and sleep (for ordinary people), not the food, air or water as is generally understood. The reason for this is that the process of digestion and assimilation involved in the extraction of Prana from food, water and air itself involves expending energy, significantly decimating the overall Prana gained from the process.
In the case of meditation and sleep the scenario is different; the individual Prana or the individual soul, simply gets back in touch with the universal Prana as the Ego separating the both gets diminished to different levels during both these activities. No amount of Prana or energy is spent here, which increases the overall Prana gained.
8. Lower divisions of Prana?
The main Prana operates in the body through its 10 ( 5 major and 5 minor ) fold lower modifications. The major ones are known as Prana , Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyana. The minor ones being Dhananjay, Naga, Kurma, Krkara and Devadatta. Their presence is felt only when they flow as nerve impulses energising the various organs, they act upon, into action.
9. Depletion of Prana?
Negative emotions like fear, worry, conflicts; physical ailments or stress of any kind; nutritional deficiencies (vitamins and other plant nutrients), addictions; and extreme environmental conditions, all contribute to the depletion of Prana in the body in various degrees.