What is Prana: 5 Types of Prana & Functions in Human Body

the five Prana: vital force of life

When we say, yoga is the union of individual consciousness with the universal consciousness, what does it mean?

A union can only be possible when we are part of something.

Yoga is the science to make us realize the universal energy lies somewhere inside us. We granted this energy from the universe in different forms like Drink, Food, Sense experience & Breath. In all these forms of getting energy, there is a universal energy manifest in the body in the form of ‘Prana.’

In this way, Yoga unites us with the whole universe through this little body (with the help of Prana) & we become part of universal consciousness.

What is Prana?

Prana is the fundamental unit of universal life which causes the movement of breath in a living being. It is the hidden power inside every person out there & lies everywhere around us. It can be understood in this way:

Suppose you have to move an object from one place to other, you need some source of energy to do this. In the same way, channelizing the breath or energy into the different organs of the body, there is a force work on breathing called Prana.

Meaning of Prana

Word Prana is the English spell of Sanskrit word ‘Praan.’ It is made up of two root syllable. Prefix ‘Pra’ means Constant & ‘an’ means Movement.
Hence, the meaning of Prana is constant movement. Its functionality of continuous flow makes it ‘Life force’ or ‘Vital energy.’ This constant movement (Prana) begins working when a child is conceived in a mother’s womb & leave the physical body at the time of death.

Prana creates a special-body in an embryo to develop physical organs including five senses and mind also. In this way, Prana is superior to any other Physical Senses and even the brain.

Source of Prana

Where Does Prana Come From?

In Hinduism, Prana is said to stems from the ‘atman.’ Another word for atman is the ‘Soul’ or ‘True-Self.’ The soul perceives the experience of the physical world through working of Prana.

Whether you are looking through eyes, breathing through the nose, sensing through the skin, or taking a decision through the brain – Prana is working behind every subtle mechanism of the body. In this way, Soul experiences the physical world through body & mind.

The Panch Prana: Essentials of The Body

5 Prana vayus

Prana is divided into five forms based on functionality & area of working. Every Prana has its significance & imbalance in their quantity may lead to improper working of body & mind.

Along with the 5 Prana, there is 5 subdivision of these Prana also called Five Upa-Pranas 1. These Five Upa-Pranas helps Prana to remove blockages from a specific part of the body.

The 5 Pranas are:

  1. prana vayu
  2. apana vayu
  3. samana vayu
  4. udana vayu
  5. vyana vayu

1. prana Vayu

prana vayu (Prana with small ‘p’) is the foremost pranic energy or Prana (Prana with capital ‘p’) in the body. Pathway of prana vayu flows in the upward direction, but it also can move downwards in its working area region. prana vayu is also considered to lie at the Ajna chakra (Place between eyebrows).

There are the following characteristics of prana vayu.

Functions of prana vayu

It is responsible for the working of the respiratory system including pumping of the heart, primary inhalation-exhalation process. Other than this, it also helps in swallowing & regurgitation of food. It balances some physiological & psychological activities like eye-concentration, emotions & mental consistency.

The working area of prana vayu

It works in the region between the diaphragm to the throat. Although the seat of it (where it resides mainly) is the ‘Heart’.

Colour of prana vayu

Every Prana (or Mahaprana) has some unique colour based on the area in which it works. The tone of prana vayu is similar to blood i.e., red gem or coral as it works in the heart of the body.

Effects of prana vayu

An imbalance in the quantity or a blockage in prana vayu can lead to depression, low-feeling & heart-related problems.

Asana to balance prana vayu

To balance the prana vayu one can practice the Asana in which chest region is involved majorly. Some examples of asana to balance prana vayu, are Standing Cobra, Bridge Pose, Bow Pose & Camel Pose.

2. Apana Vayu

Apana Vayu flows to the opposite of prana vayu, i.e., in the downward direction. The practice of different pranayama is focused on redirecting Apana Vayu to the higher energy centres in Nadis. In spiritual language, apana vayu is found to be in Muladhara Chakra.

There are the following characteristics of apana vayu.

Functions of Apana Vayu

Apana Vayu is known for its elimination functioning of waste as feces, gas, and urine. At the time of childbirth, Apana Vayu helps to create a smooth passageway for delivery. Other than this, Apana Vayu is also responsible for sexual stimulation, ejaculation & monthly menstrual cycle for women.

The working area of Apana Vayu

The seat of the Apana Vayu is ‘core of the pelvic floor.’ Various working areas of Apana Vayu in the body are navel to the perineum, urinary system, reproductive system, kidneys & the large intestine.

Colour of Apana Vayu

Apana Vayu is found to be in colour of indragopa (a mixture of red & white).

Effects of Apana Vayu

Imbalance in the Apana Vayu can lead to diabetes, Stomach related problems from poor elimination, Lazy & tiredness, Itching, depression & negativity.

Asana to balance Apana Vayu

To balance apana vayu, one should focus on the poses which cultivate awareness near the anus area (Muladhara chakra).  Example  – Tree Pose, Bound Angle Pose & Locust Pose

3. Samana Vayu

Samana means ‘equal’ (Equal in the sense of ‘Balancing air’). It occupied between the working areas of prana &Apana Vayu. It hasn’t any movement in an upward or downward direction, but it works only in a particular area of the body. Samana vayu focuses on the ‘fire element’ of the body and hence, stimulates Manipura Chakra.

There are the following characteristics of samana vayu.

Functions of Samana Vayu

It is responsible for energy utilized in the digestion process & working of digestive organs like stomach, liver, large intestine. It’s cooling down mechanism balances the heat generated in the digestion process.

The working area of Samana Vayu

The seat of Samana Vayu is at the navel. Although it takes care of the complete organ comes between diaphragm to the navel.

Colour of Samana Vayu

The colour of Samana Vayu falls between the intensity of prana & Apana Vayu. It comes around the rich, shining tone of Samana Vayu.

Effects of Samana Vayu

Imbalance of Samana Vayu can disturb your appetite which can further make you weaker. Samana energy also affects metabolism deficiency in the body.

Asana to balance Samana Vayu

These asanas can alter awareness to the navel region and hence, can bring balance to the samana vayu.
Example – Tree Pose, Bound Angle Pose & Locust Pose

4. Udana Vayu

Udana means ‘Fly’ (fly in sense movement). With the help of Udana Vayu only, you can move the different organs of the body.
For example – Moving or rolling the hand through the shoulder, rounding the head & kicking through legs. All these possible because of Udana Vayu.

It is responsible for balancing of vishuddha chakra (Throat) and limbs above it.

Functions of Udana Vayu

Udana Vayu coordinates the neurons of the motor & sensory nervous system. This coordination helps in the proper movement of different organs of the body. Other than this, controlling the five physical senses are also handled by Udana Vayu.

The working area of Udana Vayu

Udana Vayu works in the different-different regions of the body. It resides between neck to head part, shoulder to fingertips (hands) & hips to the toe tips (legs).

Colour of Udana Vayu

Its colour is pale white.

Effects of Udana Vayu

Deficiency of Udana Vayu can make a person paralyzed. Senses of the body won’t work correctly & it can lead to vision problem & deafness.

Asana to balance Udana Vayu

Asana which brings awareness to the shoulder and head region are best to balance the udana vayu in the body.
Example – Bridge Pose, Shoulder stand, Plough Pose & Fish Pose.

5. Vyana Vayu

Vyana is the 5th and most integrated type of prana. It flows in the different organs of the body through subtle energy channels a.k.a Nadi.

Functions of Vyana Vayu

Vyana energy is an alternative system which facilitates reserve force into the deficient area of other Prana. It provides necessary nutrients to needed organs via blood flow.

The working area of Vyana Vayu

It has no specific area of working in the body as it travels across the whole body & mind through the circulatory system.

Colour of Vyana Vayu

Vyana energy flows in the body having a colour similar to rays of light.

Effects of Vyana Vayu

Vyana Vayu deficiency can lead to lack of coordination between sensory & motor neurons. It can further results in weak muscular movements or tight muscles. Also, the body starts sweating a lot & sudden horripilation by fear becomes a very known phenomenon.

Asana to balance Vyana Vayu

Half-moon Pose & Eagle Pose can be practiced to redirect vyana vayu in a different part of the body.

References

  1. Pranas [Source]

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