What is Prana?

What is Prana?

  • Posted by Kaleigh
  • On February 15, 2018
  • Comments

Prana (प्राण) is a word most of us have heard. Besides being the name of a pretty dope clothing brand that many of us at The Front are familiar with, prana (like the very similar Chinese concept of chi) has many different meanings, according to context. This can sometimes prove to be a bit confusing, so below are some descriptions of prana that have meaning for yoga practitioners starting to learn the philosophy of yoga.

Prana means:

« Simply "breath."

« The life force which permeates everything. Breath is our physical manifestation of the life force.

« Specifically the upward expanding type of energy which in our bodies, is seeded in the heart (see "prana vayus" below).

Theologue by Alex Grey

For you language nerds, the word "spirit" is the translation of the word "pneuma" in Greek. The word "pneuma" derives from the Sanskrit "prana." Circling back to English, the word "inspiration" has the same etymological roots and denotes in-breath as well as the more common usage which expresses "uplifting" and "motivating."

To make things even more complicated, let's pile on a bit more info: prana vayus are a way to subdivide the way pranic energy moves through the human body. Under this umbrella fall the 5 vayus (winds) which direct energy within the body.

The 5 prana vayus are as follows:

1. Prana starts in the heart and refers to the inhale pattern of breath as it rises and expands.

2. Apana is based in the pelvic floor and is a rooting, contracting downward flow of energy. Apana refers to the exhale pattern of breath.

3. Samana begins in the navel and spreads out evenly. Its energy is absorbing and digestive, such as the assimilation of the nutrition in our food as well as pulling in other's energies. Think "gut feeling."

4. Udana starts at the throat and has an upward energy into the head.

5. Vyana refers to the circulation of energy throughout the entire body and is felt most in the skin.

Surprisingly, there are even more meanings of prana, but these are enough to begin with for our purposes! Next time you drop into one of our yoga classes, perhaps you may feel the call to meditate on the life breath of prana within yourself and all the others you are practicing with. Your own individual experience of the same life force that all beings everywhere throughout all time and space experience throughout their lives, which bonds us all together.

BY SARAH JANE
YOGA DIRECTOR AT THE FRONT CLIMBING CLUB