From Academic Kids

In Hinduism, Prana is the infinite matter of which energy is born. It is not, as is commonly misunderstood as being air, or the breath, of the human body. The incorrect assumption that Prana is breath arises from flawed knowledge arising from the practice of Pranayama, in which the control of Prana is achieved (initially) from the control of one's breathing. The breath or air is merely a gateway to the world of prana and its manifestation in the body. Also interpreted as the vital, life-sustaining force of both the individual body and the universe. Its first expounding came 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 form but is not itself the Atma or individual soul.

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From a scientific standpoint, Prana is at the atomic level, down to the humble electron and would be what makes the electron move. It is energy or matter down to its finest possible state. Just as petrol is the fuel, or energy source for a car, Prana is the fuel for all energy, in fact, any motion.

In practical terms, prana can be explained in various ways. Feelings of hunger, thirst, hot, cold, etc. in the body are pranic manifestations. All physical feelings or energies that arise or flow within the body are evidence that prana is at work. Prana is the life force, or vital energy. The presence of prana is what distinguishes a living body from a dead one. When a person (or any other living being such as an animal) dies, the prana, or life force, leaves the body through one of several orifices.

Prana is said to circulate in the body through a system of channels, called nadis (nadi in the singular), which are to prana as veins are to blood.

Prana is a general term which can be further classified into subcategories, referred to as pranas. These are the vital principles of basic energy and subtle faculties of an individual that sustain physiological processes. There are five 'Pranas' or vital currents: Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana.

In yoga, pranayama techniques are used to control the movement of these vital energies within the body, leading to an increase in vitality in the practitioner. If Prana enters a period of uplifted, intensified activity, the Yogic tradition refers to this stage of Prana as Pranotthana.

The pranas constitute the second sheath (kosa) of a human being (who is essentially the Atman or the Self). The kosas are listed below

  1. Annamaya Kosa (Gross Body)
  2. Pranamaya Kosa (Vital Air Sheath)
  3. Manomaya Kosa (Mental Sheath)
  4. Vigyanamaya Kosa (Intellectual Sheath)
  5. Karanamaya Kosa or Anandmaya Kosa (Causal Sheath)

Science: Some believe that Quantum foam or Quantum vacuum are prana being discovered by the scientific community, due to the similarities of the fact that both are universal energies with vast potential and that both are said to be all-pervading and have potential to be harnessed. But right now this is sheer conjecture until research has shown that quantum foam or vacuum energy can be tapped by a biological entity via the electromagnetic field, bio-photons, or the much debated supposed faculty of psychokinesis.

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