Prana, which is centred at the heart, is that special function of the Cosmic Prana, which supplies the human body with essential oxygen. Its energy flows from the nostrils to the level of the heart.
Certain techniques in particular activate Prana Shakti, these are Bhastrika, Nadi Shodhana and Ujjai Pranayama.
Apana Prana, centred at the last portion of the large intestine, influences the lower part of the body from the navel to the soles of the feet. This Prana regulates the elimination process. Diseases that affect the lower abdomen, intestines, kidneys, urinary tract, legs, etc., are the result of disturbed Apana Prana. The techniques of Nauli, Agnisara Kriya, Ashvini Mudra and Mula Bandha serve to strengthen and purify Apana Prana.
Samana Prana classifies the energy in food as sthoola, sookshma and madhya. The sthoola is eliminated, sookshma is blended to mind and madhyama to flesh n bones.
Samana is centred at the navel.
This Prana is strengthened through the practice of Agnisara Kriya and Nauli. The practice of these two Kriyas prevents digestive problems and Diabetes. It also improves one’s resistance to infectious disease and cancer, due to the digestive fire that is awakened in the whole body, which purifies and cleans.
Vyana Prana flows through the nerve channels of the human body. It has an effect upon the whole body and particularly on the Nadis. Poor circulation, impaired nerve stimulation and nervous breakdowns, originate from a deficiency in Vyana Prana.
It is highly recommended to perform the following breath exercise several times a day.
Inhale deeply and exhale once
Again inhale and hold the breath for as long as comfortable (counting to 20, 30, etc.)
Exhale and hold the breath again for a while
Repeat this exercise 4-5 times.
The benefit of this simple breath exercise is quickly noticed and our nerves will feel very energized.
Udana centres itself in throat, with all the senses in equilibrium, and is active when the body is in sushupti. Udana is said to bring about centering and self contact.
Udana Prana is activated by the practice of Ujjayi Pranayama, Bhramari Pranayama, as well as Viparitakarani Mudra.
Bhramari Pranayama Technique
Close the ears with the fingers and inhale. While exhaling through the nose, hum like a bumble-bee (the mouth remains closed).
After about 5-7 breaths sit motionless and breathe normally with the ears still closed. Concentrate on your inner space and listen to the inner sound.
This exercise will calm the nerves and thoughts, promote concentration and bring you into contact with your Self.
The Five Upa-Pranas
The five Upa-Pranas regulate important functions in the human body.
NAGA - Burping
Removes blockages of Prana and Apana and prevents gas formation in the digestive system. Other functions include triggering of the vomit reflex due to indigestion and dissolving blockages of Samana Prana.
KURMA - Blinking
This Upa-Prana functions in the area of the eyes, controlling opening and closing of the eyelids. The energy of this Upa-Prana is active when we are awake and is revitalised when we sleep. Kurma protects the eyes from the penetration of dust and foreign bodies etc. Disturbance of this Upa-Prana causes uncontrolled blinking and twitching of the eyelids. The practice of Trataka provides balance and strength to Kurma, as does the chanting of OM, placing warm palms over the eyes and Asanas where the head is bent forward.
DEVADATTA - Yawning, crying, laughing
Yawning indicates tiredness, sometimes after eating too. Certain foods such as grains, onions and garlic cause fatigue. Many Yogis only eat vegetables and some milk products in order to sustain their level of vitality and thereby reduce lethargy. Devadatta also controls crying and laughter.
KRIKALA - Sneezing, hunger, thirst
Sneezing releases energy blockages in the head and neck. Krikala also has control over hinger and thirst.
DHANANJAYA - Opening and Closing of Heart Valves
It influences the whole body and in particular the muscles of the heart by opening and closing the heart valves.