What is Prana?

There are certain Herbs that harbor concentrated amounts of Universal energy we call Prana (Chi in Chinese medicine).

The key to sound health is keeping the five pranas moving properly throughout the body!

Benefits of using Pranic Herbs:

  • Improving mind body functioning.
  • Consistent Energy + Harmony
  • Creates calm + alert mind
  • Lower stress + cortisol levels
  • Experience heightened sense of awareness
  • Strengthens the mind-body connection
  • Lowers Psychological distress
  • Encourages enthusiasm, vigor and stamina
  • Increases mindfulness
  • Balances mind + Body.

What is Prana?

Prana has many levels of meaning from the breath to the energy of consciousness itself. Prana is not only the basic life-force, it is the master form of all energy working on the level of mind, life and body. Indeed the entire universe is a manifestation of Prana, which is the original creative power.

Definition of PRANA – Primal life-force, the subtle energy of air, the master force and guiding intelligence behind all psychophysical processes, responsible for coordination of breath, senses, mind and consciousness

Prana is the universal life force, also mentioned as “vital force”, “all cosmic energy”, permeating the Universe on all levels.  Indologist Georg Feuerstein explains “The Chinese call it chi, the Polynesians mana, the American Indians orenda, and the ancient Germans od. It is an all-pervasive ‘organic’ energy. In living beings, this universal energy is considered responsible for all bodily functions through five types of prana”,collectively known as the five vāyusAyurvedatantra and Tibetan medicine all describe praā vāyu as the basic vāyu from which all the other vāyus arise.The key to sound health is keeping the five pranas moving properly throughout the body.

Specific foods + Herbs are full of Prana.  Roots of Wisdom™ utilizes this Prana Force Technology™ in its products, and are meticulously formulated to increase this life force.

Herbs can link body and mind through the prana as they stimulate the flow of energy through the body. “Herbs mainly work at the level of the pranayama kosha, the vital energy or pranic body. Their effect is subtler than food and at a heavier level than mental and sensory influences.  They stimulate the flow of prana through channels (nadis). Herbs therefore link body and mind together via Prana. The subtle body itself with its various chakras is like a tree with different branches.  Herbs facilitate movement of energy through this plant.  They work to catalyze pranic processes both of growth and elimination. They aid prana in its job of keeping us healthy, strong and aware.”

Ancient Yogis have used herbs to stimulate the prana alongside performing pranayama, meditation and yoga practice.

How Prana is absorbed:

  • Prana is absorbed short term through the breath, primarily through the lungs. Prana is absorbed long-term through food and herbs, primarily through the colon.
  • Prana is taken in through the nostrils and the nasal cavity. Here it is immediately absorbed to the brain and the senses.
  • Prana is taken in through the lungs.  Here Prana is transferred through the blood and plasma, through the action of the heart, to the body as a whole.
  • Prana is absorbed through the skin
  • Prana is absorbed from the food and herbs in the large intestine as the final product of digestion.

How Prana is Lost

In Maintaining the Strength of Prana, it is not enough to consider the means of its absorption into the body.  We must also consider how it is lost, how we throw it away, often unconscious of the vitality we are discarding in the process.

We fail to absorb Prana through the breath if we are no breathing properly or if our air is stagnant, polluted or impure.  We fail to absorb Prana through digestion is impaired or if our food is dead, canned, stale, old or recooked.

From the lung system, Prana is lost from too much speaking, particularly from agitated or thoughtless talk, from argument or chattering. Udana Vayu, which governs speech, is the main Prana through which energy can be lost. Strong releases of sound, like crying, shouting and screaming are even more Prana-reducing. Speech is through the Udana Vayu or upward moving air. It is through exhalation that we speak, but it is not merely a release of the exhaled air. It is also a release of the energy gained through inhalation.

Excessive sweating is another route of the lung system, that of the skin, through which Prana is lost, mainly through Vyana Vayu. This can occur through overwork or excessive physical exertion. When our vitality is weak, we should not overly sweat. Initially, sweating serves to energize our system and helps dispel toxins. Long-term, however, we will sweat out our vital fluids and the Prana they contain. Hence, sweating to moisten the skin is good, but profuse sweating can be harmful if our body fluids and plasma are not sufficient (as in many Vata types).

From the digestive system, Prana is lost through diarrhea, dysentery or chronic loose stool. It can also be lost through constipation, though the loss is seldom as acute. Any excess movement of Apana Vayu causes it to be lost. Excess urination can also deplete Prana as it also increases Apana Vayu.

The key to health and well-being is to keep our Pranas in harmony. When one Prana becomes imbalanced, the others tend to become imbalanced as well because they are all linked together.

The Five Pranas

Pranayama kosha is composed of the five Pranas. The one primary Prana divides into five types according to its movement and direction. This is an important subject in Ayurvedic medicine as well as Yogic thought.

Prana

Prana, literally the “forward moving air,” moves inward and governs reception of all types from the eating of food, drinking of water, and inhalation of air, to the reception of sensory impressions and mental experiences. It is propulsive in nature, setting things in motion and guiding them. It provides the basic energy that drives us in life.

Apana

Apana, literally the “air that moves away,” moves downward and outward and governs all forms of elimination and reproduction (which also has a downward movement). It governs the elimination of the stool and the urine, and the elimination of carbon dioxide through the breath. On a deeper level it rules the elimination of negative sensory, emotional and mental experiences. It is the basis of our immune function on all levels.

Udana

Udana, literally the “upward moving air,” moves upward and qualitative or transformative movements of the life-energy. It governs growth of the body, the ability to stand, speech, effort, enthusiasm and will. It is our main positive energy in life through which we can develop our different bodies and evolve in consciousness.

Samana

Samana, literally the “balancing air,” moves from the periphery to the center, through a churning and discerning action. It aids in digestion on all levels. It works in the gastrointestinal tract to digest food, in the lungs to digest air or absorb oxygen, and in the mind to homogenize and digest experiences, whether sensory, emotional or mental.

Vyana

Vyana, literally the “outward moving air,” moves from the center to the periphery. It governs circulation on all levels. It moves the food, water and oxygen throughout the body, and keeps our emotions and thoughts circulating in the mind, imparting movement and providing strength. In doing so it assists all the other Pranas in their work.

The five Pranas are energies and processes that occur on several levels. However, we can localize them in a few key ways. Prana Vayu governs the movement of energy from the head down to the navel, which is the Pranic center in the physical body. Apana Vayu governs the movement of energy from the navel down to the root chakra. Samana Vayu governs the movement of energy from the entire body back to the navel. Vyana Vayu governs the movement of energy out from the navel throughout the entire body. Udana governs the movement of energy from the navel up to the head

As a simple summary we could say that Prana governs the intake of substances. Samana governs their digestion. Vyana governs the circulation of nutrients. Udana governs the release of positive energy. Apana governs the elimination of waste-materials.

This is much like the working of a machine. Prana brings in the fuel, Samana converts this fuel to energy, Vyana circulates the energy to the various work sites. Apana releases the waste materials or by products of the conversion process. Udana governs the positive energy created in the process and determines the work that the machine is able to do.

The key to health and well-being is to keep our Pranas in harmony. When one Prana becomes imbalanced, the others tend to become imbalanced as well because they are all linked together. Generally, Prana and Udana work opposite to Apana as the forces of energization versus those of elimination. Similarly, Vyana and Samana are opposites as expansion and contraction.

The principal characteristic of the universe is consciousness, which leads to its manifest form, prana. Ayurveda teaches that every therapeutic substance found in nature reveals the conscious intelligence of the universe as expressed by prana.  It follows that every herb has in its design the ability to awaken and harmonize our consciousness with the consciousness of the substance. When there is disruption of prana, the intelligence of the prana in the substance will create balance.

Resources:

Charaka Shamhita
Frawley, David Yoga and Ayurveda.  Twin Lakes, WI Lotus Press, 1999.
Frawley, David and Dr. Vasant Lad. The Yoga of Herbs. Twin Lakes, WI Lotus Press 1986.
Lad, Dr Vasant. Ayurveda, The Science of Self Healing. Twin Lakes, WI.