“One who knows the Prana–whence he has his source, how he enters the body, how he lives there after dividing himself five-fold, what are his inner workings–such an one attains to immortality, even to immortality” (Prashna Upanishad 3:11, 12).
“And then at the moment of death, through the nerve in the center of the spine, the Udana, which is the fifth Prana, leads the virtuous man upward to higher birth, the sinful man downward to lower birth, and the man who is both virtuous and sinful to rebirth in the world of men” (Prashna Upanishad 3:5-7).
“We are, and everything we see around us is made of pure energy. Prana flows in everything that exists. Everything else to to exist: air, water, fire, earth, wind, trees, building, food, clothes, metal, cloud, stars..every atom, molecules of every substance and materiel”
Prana is the Sanskrit word for “life force” or vital principle or “absolute energy”. In Hindu philosophy including yoga, Indian medicine, and martial arts, the term refers collectively to all cosmic energy, permeating the Universe on all levels. Prana is often referred to as the “life force” or “life energy”. It also includes energies present in inanimate objects. In the literature, prana is sometimes described as originating from the Sun and connecting the elements of the Universe. This life energy has been vividly invoked and described in the ancient Vedas and Upanishads.
If this is kept in mind the following will be more comprehensible and meaningful.
Indian philosophy describes prana flowing in channels called Nadis. The Shiva Samhita states that there is a total of 350,000 nadis in the human body, while other texts says there are 72,000 nadis, each branching off into another 72,000. These nadis play an important role in the application and understanding of certain yoga practices. Shiva Samhita explains that the three most important nadis are the Ida, the Pingala and the Sushumna, each facilitating the flow of praṇā vāyu throughout the body.
Ida nadi relates to the right side of the brain, and the left side of the body, terminating at the left nostril. Pingala nadi relates to the left side of the brain and the right side of the body, terminating at the right nostril. Sushumna nadi connects the base chakra at the base of the spine to the crown chakra at the top of the head
“The Prana himself dwells in eye, ear, mouth, and nose; the Apana, which is the second Prana, rules the organs of excretion and generation; the Samana, which is the third Prana, inhabits the navel and governs digestion and assimilation.
Divisions of prana
Though the antahkarana, the inner instrument, is one, yet it assumes four forms:
i) Manas: the thinking mind,
ii) Buddhi: intellect,
iii) Chitta: memory or consciousness and
iv) Ahamkara: ego, according to the different functions it performs. Likewise, though prana is one,
Five Forms of Prana
according to the different functions it performs. This division is termed as vritti bheda. it assumes five forms:
1) Prana: the prana that moves upward
2) Apana: The prana that moves downward, producing the excretory functions in general
3) Samana: The prana the carries the grosser material of food to the apana and brings the subtler material to each limb; the general force of digestion.
4) Udana: The prana which brings up or carries down what has been drunk or eaten; the general force of assimilation.
5) Vyana: The prana that holds prana and apana together and produces circulation in the body.
Colour of the pranas
Prana is said to be of the colour of blood, red gem or coral. Apana is of the colour indragopa (an insect of white or red colour). Samana is of the colour between that of pure milk or crystal and an oily shining colour, that is, something between both prana and apana. Udana is of an apandara, pale white, colour and vyana resembles the colour of archis, a ray of light
Control of prana
The yogi who becomes an expert in the knowledge of prana, will have no fear of any power, because he has mastery over all the manifestations of powers in the universe. What is commonly known as the power of personality is nothing more than the natural capacity of a person to wield his prana. Some persons are more successful in life, more influential and fascinating than others. It is all due to the power of this prana. Such people manipulate every day, unconsciously of course, the same influence which the yogi uses consciously by the command of his will.
A yogi can withdraw prana from any area of the body. That area gets benumbed, becomes impervious to heat and cold and has no sensation. A yogi can also send prana to any area and make it oversensitive; he can send it to the eyes and see distant objects; he can send it to the nose and experience divine aromas; he can send it to the tongue and experience super-sensuous taste.
By control of prana the yogi can also control the omnipresent manifesting power out of which all energies take their origin, whether concerning magnetism, electricity, gravitation, cohesion, nerve currents, vital forces or thought vibrations; in fact, the total forces of the universe, physical and mental. A comprehensive knowledge of prana and its function is absolutely necessary for pranayama.