Prana - as life current energy
Prana is the name in Sanskrit given to the life / vital energy. We experience Prana everywhere, as it is in all things living and sustains life. From our atmosphere, to nature to the cells in our body, Prana is everywhere. There can be more or less Prana. We feel more Prana in the vital air seaside or in the depths of a tropical forest. We feel less Prana in an urban concrete jungle.
Prana is a subtle energy that is not visible to the naked eye but felt and visible in the manifestation of all life.
Prana is not the same as the breath, or breathing (taking in Oxygen and letting out Carbon Dioxide).
Prana travels through the breath but is also in food we eat, in sun light absorbed through the skin, etc…Some food can have more Prana: fresh vegetables and sun soaked fruits, some food can have less Prana: stale, old or heavily processed food items as an example.
Prana - as the upward moving air element
In yogic spiritual and physical anatomy, the body being formed of the elements, prana is part of the air element. Prana is one of 5 distinct characteristic aspects of the Air element each with its own purpose in the functioning of the body. Of these five, prana is the name given to the upward moving air element that regulates activity from the heart centre and lungs. It is the air element aspect of the body that regulates inhalation, cardio activity and immune defence. See Vayus*.
Prana in PranaYama
PranaYama is the conscious direction and mastery of the flow of Prana or Vital Life Current and is also the collective name given to all breathing techniques in the practices of Yoga.
Some are beginners practices and some are advanced practices.
Ultimately, in deep states of meditation, the Yogi Master can sustain life without breath and the body is sustained on Prana and by the power of God Consciousness/Breath of God alone. This prolonged breathless state is considered one of the highest levels of yogic mastery.
Further readings in Scrolls: Breath-Work, Pranayama, YM Pranayama
pra·na | ˈprä-nə
Definition of prana
: a life breath or vital principle in Vedic and later Hindu religion
It's glorious to be in this newbie micro farm, with everything so green and lush and bursting with prana.
— Valerie Reiss
Eastern philosophy holds that yoga heals by releasing prana, the body's vital energy. When prana is blocked, illness can result. Western practitioners believe yoga's deeply relaxing breath work allows the body's healing abilities to take over.
— Norine Dworkin
First Known Use of prana
1785, in the meaning defined above
History and Etymology for prana
borrowed from Sanskrit prāṇa- "breath, exhalation, breath of life," derivative from the base of prāṇiti "(she/he) breathes, draws in breath," from pra- "before, forward" + aniti "(she/he) breathes" — more at FOR entry 1, ANIMATE entry 1