Defining Prana in Yoga

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Understanding What Prana Means in a Yoga Practice

Defining Prana in YogaContinuing to delve deeper into all things Yoga, there’s a term that is essential in the study, or that you may have heard in a class that offers substantial meaning. Based on the what you already know (the fact that this post is entitled PRANA), let’s consider exactly what Prana is.

Defining Prana

For starters, the definition of Prana is fairly simple. It is referred to as the “breath” or “life force” that exists within all living beings and the natural universe. Stretching far beyond this simplified definition, the physical manifestation of Prana is portrayed by the manner in which our bodies carry out simple, involuntary acts, such as breathing, hunger and thirst.

What Prana Consists Of

Breaking it down in its simplest form, the details of Prana may be a far stretch of the imagination to an individual system of accepted beliefs, yet there are a few things that simply can’t be denied. Prana is the essence of why we are able to function.

In the western world, you might put it this way — if you don’t breathe, you die. It’s really that simple. Prana delves a bit deeper, however, to explore the lasting effect of this life force on our inner and outer experience.

How Prana Travels

Yoga philosophy contends that Prana flows through three passageways or channels, known as “nadis:”

Ida — originates from the right side of the body (testicle), ending at the left nostril. From Sanskrit, the word translates to mean comfort.

Pingala — moves in form as Ida, yet originating and ending in direct opposition. From Sanskrit, the word is translated to mean tawny.

Ida and Pingala are the female and male energies working throughout the body — the lunar and solar energies, creating balance in the universal life force to generate a cognizant being.

The third channel, known as Sushumna, connects the base chakra (Muladhara) to the crown chakra (Sahasrara). At this point, it might be fair to say that you’re lost in terminology — that it all sounds interesting, but you’re in need of simple physical comparison.

Ultimately, this third channel that Prana flows through originates at your tail and flows through your head and into a gorgeous crown made up of 1000 petals, 20 rows boasting 50 petals each (It’s often referred to as the thousand petaled lotus). You have no doubt seen this in east Indian art, as it represents the point at which a higher level of conscience can experience a union with God.

Veerya — The Prana Of Pranas

Simply put, Veerya is a seminal energy, the force that has the ability to create all aspects of life. In translation, Veerya is equivalent to male’s semen, as the preservation of semen is considered to be the true vitality in the life of a man.

An interesting point, yet not something you want to end with, let’s consider one more adaptation of Prana, as it is most often heard in contemporary Yoga practice — Pranayama.


Simplifying Prana to the breath, taken in to feed the body essential life, and out to remove waste, Pranayama is the study of that breath and life force, how it is properly or improperly used and how proper use can lead to truer life function.

(Photo Via: NagyYoga)

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