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Prana and Nadis

Prana and Pranayama

Prana is often misunderstood as breath. However, Prana refers to the vital force that keeps our mind body equipment going. Breath is just the gross representation of Prana. Ancient Yogic texts classify Prana into ten types. Five of them are more important than others and are called as main Pranas. The remaining five are called as sub-Pranas. The five main Pranas are explained below.

Prana

Prana means "forward or inward moving air" 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 resides in the region from throat to diaphragm. It provides the basic energy that drives us in life.

Apana

Apana means "air that moves away" and moves downward and outward governing all forms of elimination and reproduction. It governs the elimination of the stool and the urine, the expelling of semen, menstrual fluid and the fetus. It resides in the region from navel to anus. It is also the basis of our immune system.

Udana

Udana means "circular moving air" and governs growth of the body, the ability to stand, speech, effort, enthusiasm and will. It resides in hands, legs, joints and head.

Samana

Samana refers to "balancing air" and moves from the periphery to the center. It aids in digestion on all levels. It balances Prana and Apana. It resides in organs such as stomach, liver, pancreas, spleen and small intestine.

Vyana

Vyana means "all pervasive air" and moves from the center to the periphery. It governs circulation on all levels. It moves the food, water and oxygen throughout the body. In doing so it assists all the other Pranas in their work. It acts as a reservoir of Prana and is supplied wherever there is deficiency of other Pranas.
 
The five sub Pranas are explained below:

  • Naga: Naga is responsible for actions such as blurb and hiccups.
  • Koorma: Because of Koorma we can blink.
  • Krikara: Krikara generates hunger and thirst.
  • Devdatta: Devdatta is responsible for yawning.
  • Dhananjaya: Dhananjaya is spread throughout our body. Even after death it remains in the body and triggers the process of decomposition.

Ancient Yogis observed that when Prana is controlled so is the mind and hence Pranayama is an important technique in Kriya Yoga. The real essence of Pranayama lies in the regulation and control of these ten Pranas. Mere breathing in some specific way is not Pranayama. These Pranas are not only important for spiritual progress but they are equally important for proper functioning of the mind body equipment. Yoga believes that diseases are caused due to deficiency and weakening of one or more of these Pranas. Therefore strengthening and nourishing them is essential even for a happy and healthy life.

Often the word prana is used to represent all the ten types of pranas.

While studying Kriya Yoga you will often come across the term – Nadi. Nadi refers to a channel through which Prana flows. Nadis are not to be confused with blood veins or arteries. As per Yoga there are 72,000 nadis in human body. Of these 72,000 nadis, ten are more important than the others. These ten nadis and their flows are discussed next.

  • Ida: Ida flows from the Kanda to the left nostril
  • Pingala: Pingala flows from the Kanda to the right nostril
  • Sushumna: Sushumna flows through the spinal column. All the chakras are located on the path of this nadi.
  • Gandhari: Gandhari goes from the Kanda to the left eye
  • Hastijivha: Hastijivha goes from the Kanda to the right eye
  • Pusha: Pusha starts from the Kanda and ends in the right ear
  • Yashaswini: Yashaswini starts from the Kanda and ends in the left ear
  • Alumbusa: Alumbusa goes from the Kanda to the mouth
  • Kuhu: Kuhu flows from the Kanda to genitals
  • Shankhini: Shankhini flows from the Kanda to the anal region

Again out of these ten nadis three are most important. They are – Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. All the other nadis depend on these three nadis for their functioning. Ida controls emotional behavior where as Pingala controls analytical behavior of human brain. The third supreme nadiSushumna – governs the spiritual progress. It is this nadi through which Kundalini ascends to its destination in the head region when awakened.

The Nadishodhana Kriya plays an important role in strengthening the prana and purifying all the nadis.


Bipin Joshi is a software consultant, an author and a yoga mentor with more than 22 years of experience in classical yoga system of India. He is an internationally published author and has authored or co-authored more than ten technology books for Apress and WROX press. He has been awarded as a Most Valuable Professional by Microsoft. He has also written a few Marathi books including Devachya Davya Hati and Natha Sankentincha Danshu. Having embraced yoga way of life he also teaches Kriya and Meditation to selected individuals.

बिपीन जोशी लिखित देवाच्या डाव्या हाती आणि नाथ संकेतींचा दंशु या पुस्तकांची आपली प्रत आजच विकत घ्या. त्यांच्या अजपा योग मार्गदर्शनाविषयी अधिक माहिती येथे उपलब्ध आहे.


Posted On : 03 Jan 2007


Tags : Hatha Yoga Kundalini Chakras Kriya Yoga Ashtanga Yoga Pranayama Natha Courses