2 Prana in Ayurveda
of Prana and Pranic Forces
Prana has many different manifestations, from the most subtle to the gross manifestation of electricity. It is the power which enables us to think, feel and hear. It is the first sound - OM. It manifests in the body as the five pranas: prana, udana, samana, apana and vyana. These five pranic forces govern all types of movement in the body; they restrain and impel mental activity, coordinate the senses, help in the enjoyment of their objects; they hold together different parts of the body, promote speech, enable touch and hearing; they are the cause of joy and courage; they stimulate digestion, absorb the three humors, expel waste from the body; they create the gross and subtle channels in the body, mold the shape of the embryo, and determine the length of the life span.
The traditional locations and actions of the five pranas are shown in figure
Prana prana - Inward moving prana - seated in the head and heart - controls thinking, emotion, sensory functioning, and memory. We receive cosmic prana from the sun; it is called hot or solar prana.
Apana prana - Downward moving prana - seated in the colon - controls the process of elimination (urine, sweat, menstruation, organ and defecation), and receives prana from the Earth and Moon; It is called cool, or lunar prana.
Samana prana - Equalizing prana, seated in the navel, controls the digestion and harmonizes prana and apana. This is also called the upward breath, for together with apana it creates the upward and downward movement of breathing.
Udana prana - Upward-moving prana - located in the throat-controls speech, connects us to the solar and lunar forces (Sky and Earth), is responsible for spiritual development, controls psychic powers and psychic phenomena, and controls creative expression. The development of kundalini relates directly to udana prana.
Vyana prana - The pervading prana, is seated in the heart; it unites the other pranas and the body, and controls nerve and muscle action.
Prana, or vayu as it is more commonly called in Ayurveda, is responsible for the actions of nature - the movement in the world, the preservation of Earth, igniting fire, causing compactness, moving the planets, causing all forms of weather in the atmosphere. It is responsible for the movement of water, the ripening of fruits and vegetables; it causes growth. It is responsible for dividing the seasons, the power of germination, the manifestation of the five sates of material existence (the five elements), controlling the size and shape of the resulting combination of the five elements, the hardness and dryness in the environment, and that which brings about transformation everywhere.
To sum it up, prana is the prime moving force in both body and universe. Prana is not breath, it is the power that enables us to breathe. Prana is not energy, it is what gives energy the power to be energy. Prana is not seen or unseen, yet it is observable by its actions. Prana is the power behind movement.