Yogic Q & A: What is Prana?

Prana is a Sanskrit word that translates to “life force.” Understanding what Prana is and how it works is like being given a key that can unlock new improved levels of health and wellbeing from the inside and out. 

Prana rides on the breath, so when you are consciously breathing, you are taking in Prana and sustaining your own life force. Prana not only sustains you, but it also helps you understand that you're more than your physical body! Our outermost layer, the physical body, is what we tend to associate with most because it’s tangible—we can see it, feel it, and therefore rationalize it. 

However, what is less tangible, but no less real, is the energy that exists within and around the physical body. In yoga, we call this 'energy prana'. This 'energy prana' is the vital life force that not only sustains your own life but also the life force outside of you. When you expand your breath and improve the quality of it, you're expanding and improving the quality of this vital life force inside and out. This is exactly what yoga breathing techniques, or pranayama, are designed to do: over time, they improve the quality of your internal environment, to then improve the quality of your external environment. Similar to practicing various asanas (yoga poses), you can feel the healing and rejuvenation take place as it works its way from the inside out. 

The practice of Prana (mindful breathing exercises) has just as much of an impact on your health as do the physical postures of the yoga practice. However, the only difference is, is that the benefits are far more subtle; You just have to tune in a little deeper.