Prana is energy, vitality, power. Prana is the foundation and essence of all life; the energy and vitality that permeates the entire Universe. Prana flows in everything that exists.
Furthermore, Prana is the connecting link between the material world, consciousness and mind. It is what makes life on the material level possible. Prana regulates all physical functions for example, the breath, the supply of oxygen, digestion, elimination and much more. The function of the human body is much like a transformer, receiving energy from the Universal flow of Prana, distributing that energy, and then eliminating it. If a person or a room has a healthy, harmonious vibration, we say: “There is good Prana here”. Illness, on the other hand, disturbs or blocks the flow of Prana. As we develop the ability to control Prana, we gain harmony and health, of both body and mind. In addition to this, with long and consistent practice an expansion of consciousness is experienced.
Prana is divided into ten main functions:
The Five Pranas
Along with 5 major pranas, there are 5 minor pranas known as up-pranas:
NAGA – Burping
Removes blockages of Prana and Apana and prevents gas formation in the digestive system. Constant suppression of Naga can lead to Cardiac Arrhythmia. Other functions include triggering of the vomit reflex due to indigestion and dissolving blockages of Samana Prana.
KURMA – Blinking
This Upa-Prana functions in the area of the eyes, controlling opening and closing of the eyelids. The energy of this Upa-Prana is active when we are awake and is revitalised when we sleep. Kurma protects the eyes from the penetration of dust and foreign bodies etc. Disturbance of this Upa-Prana causes uncontrolled blinking and twitching of the eyelids. The practice of Trataka provides balance and strength to Kurma, as does the chanting of OM, placing warm palms over the eyes and Asanas where the head is bent forward.
DEVADATTA – Yawning
The function of Devadatta is similar to that of Samana Prana. Yawning expels gas, reducing tiredness after eating. Certain foods such as grains, onions and garlic cause fatigue. Many Yogis only eat vegetables and some milk products in order to sustain their level of vitality and thereby reduce lethargy.
KRIKALA – Sneezing
Clears blockages in the respiratory system. Sneezing can also ease headache as it releases energy blockages in the head and neck. A sneeze should not be suppressed, as this may affect vertebrae in the cervical spine. In folk tales it is said that he who sneezes loudly and strongly, has a long life. Weak sneezes indicate weak vitality.
DHANANJAYA – Opening and Closing of Heart Valves
Dhananjaya resides close to the Heart. It influences the whole body and in particular the muscles of the heart by opening and closing the heart valves. Cardiac Arrhythmia and even Heart Attack may occur due to a serious disturbance of Dhananjaya.
There are four areas in the human body where the flow of Prana is particularly intensive – through the sole of each foot and the palm of each hand. The feet are closely related to the earth element and represent negative polarity. Therefore one should never concentrate on the feet in meditation. Conversely, the energy of the palms originates from the heart. It is related to the air element and produces positive polarity.