prana

prana (Sanskrit: प्राण, "life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath") from the root pran, "to breathe." — the vital breath, which sustains life in a physical body; the primal energy or force, of which other physical forces are manifestations. Prana in the human body moves in the pranamaya-kosha as five primary life currents known as vayus, "vital airs or winds." and described as having five modifications, according to its five different functions. These are prana (the vital energy that controls the breath), apana (the vital energy that carries downward unassimilated food and drink), samana (the vital energy that carries nutrition all over the body), vyama (the vital energy that pervades the entire body), and udana (the vital energy by which the contents of the stomach are ejected through the mouth). Each governs crucial bodily functions, and all bodily energies are modifications of these. Usually prana refers to the life principle, but sometimes denotes energy, power or the animating force of the cosmos. The word prana is also a name of the Cosmic Energy, endowed with activity.

Prana is a central concept in Ayurveda and Yoga where it is said to flow through a network of fine subtle channels called nadis. The pranamaya-kosha is one of the five koshas or "sheaths" of the atman.

Prana was first expounded in the Upanishads, where it is part of the worldly, physical realm, sustaining the body and the mother of thought and thus also of the mind. Prana suffuses all living forms but is not itself the atman or individual soul. In the Ayurveda, the Sun and sunshine are held to be a source of prana.

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