Prana – an Ancient Understanding of Life Force Energy Defined in Modern Times

Originally published in Yogi Approved.

If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you’ve probably heard the word “prana” at some point. But what does this word really mean, and how does it apply to your yoga practice and life overall?

In this article, we will discuss the meaning of prana, what it is, how it impacts our lives, and how you can become more attuned to it.

What is Prana?

The word “Prana” is Sanskrit and can be split into two: ‘pra’ means “to exist before” and ‘ana’ means “an atom.”

Therefore, prana is “that which exists before an atom.” It is fascinating to note that the ancient Indian Vedas were familiar with atoms thousands of years before they were discovered by modern-day microscopes.
Prana is something we cannot measure, we cannot hold, we cannot taste. It can only be felt by the more subtle layers of our ethereal body.
Yet prana is not unique to yoga or the Vedas. In fact, the concept of prana exists in many cultures. The Chinese call it “chi” or “qi,” which is where qi-gong comes from.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Chinese Qi and how it applies to your body, your wellbeing, and healing practices like Acupuncture, read this article.

The Japanese call it “ki,” the Maori culture calls it “mana” and the Greeks called it “pneuma.” Even the Bible had a word for prana, which is “holy spirit.”

These are all different terms for the same thing we feel universally, regardless of cultural or religious background: energy.

Prana is something we cannot measure, we cannot hold, we cannot taste. It can only be felt by the more subtle layers of our ethereal body.
Prana is the vibration between atoms.
Prana is also often referred to (particularly in yoga) as life force energy. It exists in all places and all things. Things that are full of prana are full of life – take fresh fruit for example. Life force energy is literally beaming across the atoms of the fruit.

But even non-tangible things like a room of people deep in meditation is full of prana – it’s about the vibration that the room emits.

Prana, Energy + Energetic Vibrations

You may have heard the terms “low vibration” and “high vibration” used to describe people, places or things. This saying refers to energetic life force. Prana is the vibration between atoms.

High vibrational things are full of prana, emitting love, joy and unity. Low vibrational things lack such vitality and operate on a level of fear, jealousy and/or anger.

Some people have a high vibration, meaning that they emit positive energy. Just being around them puts you in a good mood because they radiate like the sun.

Other people have a low vibration. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have said or done something wrong, but the aura they exude is not of life force. Your subconscious picks up on something low-vibration about this person, whether it is deeper layers of fear, jealousy or anger. These people are more like energetic vampires because they suck your energy, rather than give it out.

Prana Energy is Everywhere!

Just as people can have high or low vibrations, so can physical locations! Some places are “high vibrational.” Your mere presence in this place fills you up with life force and inspiration. Such places include forests, beaches, meditation centers, yoga studios and/or temples.

Other places are “low vibrational.” You may feel stressed, exhausted or depressed just by being there. These places can be anywhere from your workplace to your school to your bank, depending on your relationship with such places.

Meals can also be high or low vibrational. A “high-vibe” meal is full of active, living nutrients, freshly picked from the soil. It hasn’t been overly cooked and is comprised of plants from the Earth.

A “low-vibe” meal is one that is dead and lifeless. Microwave dinners, chips, candy and sodas are all low-vibrating foods because they have no pranic life force. This is why we feel worse after consuming this type of food (if we can call it food at all).

The Modern Take on Prana

Prana, or your life force energy, is all around and within you. It’s everywhere. Just as our thoughts create our reality, our intentions and the way we live our lives directly impacts our prana. Everything is energy, and like attracts like.

Ultimately it’s up to you whether you choose to live a “high vibration” or “low vibration” life through the thoughts you think, words you speak, foods you eat, and so forth.

Just as certain people, places or things can either fill you with life force energy or drain you of it, the choices you make it when it comes to your physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing all directly impact your prana.


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