All forces, all powers and prana spring from the fountain or common source, known as Atman (Soul). Heat, light, electricity, magnetism are manifestations of prana. It may be in either a static or a dynamic state. It is found in all forms from the highest to the lowest, from the ant to the elephant, the unicellular amoebae to man, from the elementary forms of plant life to the developed forms of animal life.
Whatever moves or has life is but an expression or manifestation of prana. It is prana that shines in your eyes. It is through the power of prana that the ear hears, the eye sees, the skin feels, the tongue tastes, the nose smells and the brain and the intellect perform their functions. The smile of a young lady, the melody in music, the power in the emphatic words of an orator, the charm in the speech of one’s beloved are all due to prana. Whatever you behold in this sense-world, whatever moves or works or has life, is but an expression or manifestation of prana.
Prana is force, magnetism and electricity. Radio waves travel through prana. That which moves the steam engine of a train and a steamer, which causes the motion of breath in lungs, that which is the very life of this breath itself, is prana. It is prana that pumps the blood from the heart into the arteries or blood vessels. Through prana digestion, excretion and secretion take place. Prana digests the food, turns it into chyle and blood, and sends it into the brain and mind. The mind is then able to think and inquire into the nature of Brahman.
Use of Prana
Prana is expended by thinking, willing, acting, moving, talking and writing. A healthy strong person has an abundance of prana (or nerve-force or vitality). It is supplied by food, water, air, solar energy, etc. The supply of prana is taken up by the nervous system. The prana in the air is absorbed by breathing. The excess is stored in the brain and nerve centres. When the seminal energy is sublimated or transformed it supplies an abundance of prana to the system. It is stored in the brain in the form of spiritual energy.
The yogi stores a great deal of prana through the regular practice of pranayama, just as the storage battery stores electricity. That yogi who has stored a large supply radiates strength and vitality all around. He is a big power house and those who come in close contact with him imbibe prana from him and receive strength, vigor vitality and exhilaration of spirits. Just as water flows from one vessel to another, prana actually flows like a steady current from a developed yogi towards weak persons. This can actually be seen by the yogi who has developed his inner yogic vision.
Control of Prana
A yogi can withdraw prana from any area of the body. That area gets benumbed, becomes impervious to heat and cold and has no sensation. A yogi can also send prana to any area and make it oversensitive; he can send it to the eyes and see distant objects; he can send it to the nose and experience divine aromas; he can send it to the tongue and experience super-sensuous taste.
By control of prana the yogi can also control the omnipresent manifesting power out of which all energies take their origin, whether concerning magnetism, electricity, gravitation, cohesion, nerve currents, vital forces or thought vibrations; in fact, the total forces of the universe, physical and mental. A comprehensive knowledge of prana and its function is absolutely necessary for pranayama.
1. The Science of Pranyama by Sri Swami Sivananda