Prana The Fundamental Life Energy

Prana The Fundamental Life Energy


According to Sadhguru, Prana is the fundamental life force or energy that is the basis of all life in the universe. It’s not only the energy that sustains human beings but all other creatures and even inanimate objects. Sadhguru emphasizes that Prana is not just a physical or biological aspect but a manifestation of a fundamental, universal vitality.

Prana is sometimes equated with breath, but Sadhguru points out that while breath is a physical manifestation of Prana, the concept is much more expansive. He teaches that our physical and mental systems can be thought of as a certain kind of software and hardware programmed with Prana. In this context, Prana is not just energy but an intelligence that shapes life.

Sadhguru emphasizes that the quality, quantity, and direction of Prana or life energy within us can determine our health, well-being, and the very nature of our life experience. If one knows how to manage and control this energy, one can determine the nature and destiny of their existence.

Sadhguru suggests various practices to balance and enhance Prana, including yoga, meditation, and proper dietary habits. These practices are said to enhance physical health and mental clarity and enable higher possibilities in life. For example, through certain yogic practices, it’s said that one can learn to control the fundamental life energies and elevate their consciousness.

Sources of Prana

In yogic philosophy, Prana is believed to be the universal life force or energy present everywhere. It permeates the entire universe, both in its macrocosmic and microcosmic aspects. However, this Prana is often said to be absorbed or accessed through various sources for humans and other living beings.

Prana’s primary and most direct source is the air we breathe. This is why practicing Pranayama, or breath control, is important in yoga. Through specific breathing techniques, practitioners can enhance the flow and balance of Prana within their bodies.

Our food is also said to be a source of Prana. This is a central concept in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine. Food that is fresh, organic, and prepared with care is considered to contain more Prana. Spending time in nature—near trees, rivers, mountains, and in sunlight—is also said to increase one’s absorption of Prana.

Certain forms of meditation can also help accumulate and balance Prana within the body.

Prana is believed to circulate throughout the body, but its flow is particularly concentrated in “nadis,” or subtle energy channels, and “chakras,” or energy centers. Techniques such as Pranayama, a set of yogic breathing exercises, aim to regulate and balance the flow of Prana.

In yogic philosophy, Prana is subdivided into different types or “vayus,” each with a distinct function and direction of flow. These are usually counted as five, but some traditions list more. 

Prana Vayu

Prana Vayu is one of the five primary types of Prana, or vital energy, recognized in yogic and Ayurvedic traditions. Its name comes from “Prana,” meaning “primary life force,” and “Vayu,” meaning “wind” or “air.” As such, it represents a specific manifestation of life force energy in the body.

Prana Vayu is traditionally believed to be in the heart and governs the chest region. Its associated direction of movement is inward and upward, and it influences the functioning of the heart and lungs, particularly regarding respiration and the intake of oxygen, food, and water.

Prana Vayu is also responsible for the functioning of the senses and the mind, enabling our ability to perceive and interact with the world around us. It is deeply connected with the element of air, the sense of touch, and the skin, the organ of touch.

Pranayam to manage Prana
Pranayam to manage Prana

Disturbances or imbalances in Prana Vayu can lead to respiration, heart function, and overall vitality issues. Symptoms such as anxiety, fear, and other emotional disturbances might indicate an imbalance in Prana Vayu.

Techniques such as Pranayama (breath control exercises), yoga asanas (postures), meditation, and a balanced diet are often recommended to balance and strengthen Prana Vayu. Specific pranayama techniques such as Anulom Vilom (alternate nostril breathing) and Ujjayi (victorious breath) can be particularly beneficial.

Apana Vayu

The term Apana Vayu comes from “Apana,” meaning “outward” or “downward,” and “Vayu,” meaning “wind” or “air.” As such, it represents the aspect of pranic energy that moves downward and outwardly.

Apana Vayu is believed to be located in the lower abdomen, from the navel to the soles of the feet. It is responsible for the elimination and expulsion processes in the body. This includes regulating the excretory system, governing activities such as defecation, urination, and menstruation. In women, it is also associated with the process of childbirth.

In a broader sense, Apana Vayu helps expel negative sensory, emotional, and mental experiences. It allows the body and mind to let go of what is no longer needed, thus vital to maintaining overall health and well-being.

When Apana Vayu is balanced, elimination processes occur smoothly, the body feels grounded, and the mind is calm and stable. If it’s imbalanced, it can lead to problems like constipation, bloating, lower back pain, depression, and difficulty letting go of negative emotions or experiences.

To balance and enhance the flow of Apana Vayu, practices such as specific yoga asanas (postures), Pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation techniques can be helpful. Asanas that involve forward bending, twists and those that promote grounding can be particularly beneficial. Mula Bandha (root lock) is another technique used to regulate Apana Vayu.

A healthy diet, with plenty of fiber and adequate hydration, can also help support the functioning of Apana Vayu, as can regular exercise and a regular schedule for sleeping and eating.

Samana Vayu

The word “Samana” can be translated as “balancing” or “equalizing,” and “Vayu” means “wind” or “air.” Thus, Samana Vayu represents the aspect of pranic energy responsible for processes of balancing or equalizing in the body.

Samana Vayu is believed to be located between the heart and navel, often associated with the solar plexus or Manipuraka chakra. Its primary function is the assimilation and distribution of nutrients throughout the body. It not only refers to the digestion of food but also includes the assimilation of thoughts and experiences into understanding and insight.

It governs all metabolic processes, transforming complex substances into simpler, usable forms. From a physical perspective, it controls the digestive fire or “agni” and is responsible for the digestion, absorption, and excretion of nutrients.

If Samana Vayu is functioning well, the digestion is efficient, the body is nourished, and one’s understanding and cognition are clear. Imbalances in Samana Vayu might manifest as digestive issues like indigestion, malabsorption, bloating, mental fog, or confusion.

Practices to balance and strengthen Samana Vayu include specific yoga asanas (postures), Pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation techniques. Asanas focusing on the abdominal area, such as twists and core strengthening poses, can be particularly helpful. Regarding Pranayama, practices like Kapalabhati (skull-shining breath) and Agni Sara (essence of fire) are often recommended.

The diet also plays a significant role in managing Samana Vayu. Consuming a balanced diet, eating mindfully, and maintaining regular eating schedules can support the functions of Samana Vayu.

Udana Vayu

Udana Vayu is acknowledged in Ayurvedic and yogic traditions. The term “Udana” translates to “upward moving,” and “Vayu” means “wind” or “air.” Hence, Udana Vayu refers to the life force energy that governs upward and outward movement in the body.

Udana Vayu is traditionally associated with the region from the throat to the head and is responsible for the functions of expression and growth. It includes the activities of speech, singing, laughing, and crying. Udana Vayu also regulates memory, thoughts, and the functions of the thyroid gland.

On a subtler level, Udana Vayu is connected to spiritual growth and enlightenment. It’s linked with the rising of spiritual energy, or kundalini, through the central energy channel, or sushumna nadi, that runs along the spine.

When Udana Vayu is balanced, there is clear communication, balanced growth, and a strong sense of enthusiasm and joy. An imbalance in Udana Vayu can result in issues related to speech, expression, and growth, such as stuttering, throat issues, thyroid imbalances, and difficulties with memory or cognition.

Specific practices such as Pranayama (breathing exercises), yoga asanas (postures), and meditation can be beneficial to balance Udana Vayu. For Pranayama, practices like Ujjayi (victorious breath) and Brahmari (bee breath) can be particularly effective as they focus on the throat region. In terms of asanas, poses that open and stimulate the throat region, such as shoulder stand (Sarvangasana) or plow pose (Halasana), can be beneficial.

Vyana Vayu

The term “Vyana” can be translated as “outward moving,” and “Vayu” means “wind” or “air.” Therefore, Vyana Vayu refers to the aspect of life energy that circulates and expands outward.

Unlike the other pranas with specific areas of dominance, Vyana Vayu is unique because it permeates the entire body and acts as a coordinating force for the other types of Prana. Its function is primarily related to the circulatory and nervous systems, governing the flow of nutrients and impulses to every cell and part of the body.

Physically, Vyana Vayu oversees blood and lymph circulation, the movement of muscles and joints, and the coordination of the nervous system. It provides movement and flexibility to the body and is essential for maintaining overall balance and integration.

On a subtler level, Vyana Vayu facilitates the circulation of thoughts and emotions. It helps distribute energy and information throughout the mind-body system, enabling a sense of wholeness and connection.

When Vyana Vayu is balanced, there is ease of movement, good blood circulation, and effective coordination of physical and mental activities. Imbalances in Vyana Vayu can lead to poor circulation, muscle cramps, nerve disorders, and feelings of disconnection or disorientation.

Practices for balancing Vyana Vayu include regular physical exercise, yoga asanas (postures), Pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation. Asanas that encourage a full range of motion, like the sun salutation (Surya Namaskar) sequence, can be particularly helpful. In Pranayama, techniques like Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) can help balance the overall pranic system, including Vyana Vayu.

Prana, Sadhguru teaches, underlies the movement from physical life to life beyond the physical. He says that understanding and mastering our Prana can prepare us for the journey of life and death.