PRANA - the spark
in the machine
Prana has many descriptions: the energy permeating the universe at all levels; physical, mental, intellectual, sexual, spiritual and cosmic energy; all vibrating energies; heat, light, gravity, magnetism, and electricity; the hidden or potential energy in all beings; the prime mover of all activity; the energy that creates, protects, and destroys, vigour, power, vitality, life and spirit; the principle of life and consciousness; being and non being.
These are just a few definitions of prana, which collectively we can take as referring to the vital-life sustaining force permeating living beings and vital energy in all natural processes of the universe.
Prana has five energetic expressions or functions, called vayus.
PRANA VS PRANAYAMA
Prana is closely related to respiration, for it is primarily through breathing that prana enters the human body. Air and the oxygen in it may be regarded as manifestations of prana, but they are not prana itself, which is more than simply respiratory air. Ayama means expansion, and has overtones of restraint and control. Thus pranayama means "techniques for controlling prana." Many people consider pranayama to be mere breathing exercises for absorbing extra oxygen into the blood stream, but this is only one of its benefits. Pranayama is properly regarded as a group of methods to absorb and circulate prana into the physical and astral bodies, invigorating both.
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