If ‘steadfast awareness or super subtle pure conscious’ is the quintessence that permeates everything in the observable universe and beyond, then Prana is its universal principle of energy or force. It is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe, all the forces in nature and powers which are hidden in men and which lie everywhere around us.
Swami Sivananda Saraswati says:
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 enquire into the nature of Brahman.
Prana is the link between the astral and physical body. When the slender thread-link of prana is cut, the astral body separates from the physical body. Death takes place. The prana that was working in the physical body is withdrawn into the astral body.
How is Prana related to the Chakras?
In the pranic body, prana flows through nadis, energy channels, and is stored in chakras, energy vortices. According to some researchers, the electromagnetic energy in prana gives rise to radiation in which the waves of electric energy and magnetic energy are at ninety degrees to each other, resulting in what looks like a spiral. Indeed, the spiral radiation structure around chakras has been seen, described and drawn by sages and savants from all parts of the world at different times.
At the pranic level, in their initial stages the practices of pranayama clear up the nadis, energy pathways in the body. The scriptures say there are over 72,000 nadis or pathways of prana in the pranic body and six main chakras. However, in the average individual, many of these pathways are blocked and the chakras release energy only partially. In other words, we do not utilize our full potential in terms of energy, mind and consciousness. The negative conditions we experience, whether physical or mental, are the cause as well as the consequence of the blockages. The state of our nadis and chakras are defined by our samskaras, conditionings carried in seed form, as well as purushartha, self-effort and anugraha, grace. When these pathways of energy are gradually freed so that prana moves through them smoothly.
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