The concept of Prana is one of the most difficult to realize. There are many translations of this word, but even the prefix "pra" (grand) in tuned with something original: grandfather, grandmother, indicating something that was before something else appeared. Sometimes it is called pra-energy, the energy that was in the very beginning of creation of the Universe, the energy that has created everything in the world. Now, in modern times it is considered to be the energy that forms the human body after its conception, the energy that according to yoga teachings supports our lives. In fact translating the concept of "prana" as only the energy is incorrect. Prana is a more subtle and more obscure essence than energy. More precisely, prana contains all the possible energies. This is the original form of energy that can later be transformed into any known type of energy in the world.
If you ask physicists about energy, they will tell you that according to the modern scientific picture of the world, there are four types of energy or four kinds of interactions in the universe: strong and weak interaction, which can be found at the atomic nucleus level, electromagnetic and gravitational.
The question is where is prana? Yoga gives us the following answer: prana is the original power that is actually never found in its pure state. Depending on the objective, it instantly transforms from one form to another. Prana is also the channel of consciousness. Thus, prana shows itself as both energy and consciousness.
The breathing exercises that we do to fill our body with oxygen and to remove carbon dioxide from it, are also considered as an indirect means of gaining prana from the yoga viewpoint.
It is generally believed, that each breath we take, creates neural impulses inside our body and as long as they are harmonious, we start to gain prana, which is literally spread all over the Universe. In this context, yoga says, if you close your mouth and nose, you can hold out for about five minutes. But if you cut the string of prana, which links us with the world’s prana reserve, the end will come with no apparent reason. In other words, prana is a vital energy.
Prana enters our body and then transforms into another form of energy, which is essential to maintain the way our body works, in particular, to keep our metabolism and mind functions up. From yoga perspective, if one has a lot of such energy, you can see it right away by his or her activity, charisma and mental acuity.
When the flow of prana is slowing down or shrinking, it is called fading. And when it is increasing and is growing bigger it is called prevalence.
A person with prana is happy, merry and joyful; he or she is able to fight back any diseases and will not be affected by unfavorable conditions. Whereas a person without prana even being placed in a sterile environment will likely get sick and have problems within the physical and mental body. A person lacking prana is inclined to constant fears and negativity for no reason. If you have an excess of prana, then there is a feeling that you are a part of something huge, otherwise there is a sense that all these talks about superior and subtle levels are complete nonsense and nothing like spiritual laws even exists. That is all because the person has no internal vibration to feel it.
Pranayama yoga is a kind of yoga that focuses on ways of gaining prana and primarily by our ability to breathe.
Within our body, prana works as a highly qualified manager in a very big company. Imagine an organization in which there are working personnel directly manufacturing the product. Then there are people who decide what is to be manufactured and what is not. And there is a third category of people, which is nowadays called managers. A manager is a person who has considerable knowledge and experience to replace anybody in the workplace. A manager can fill in for a worker at the machine, if the worker is ill, or for an analyst in making forecasts, or for a designer… whatever. So, basically, the manager is versatile. Generally, managers earn much more than workers, designers and analysts combined because the manager at the large extent determines the fate of the company, whether it flourishes or falls apart. Thus, prana works as a manager.
In our body, which in this sense is a big factory, there are different cells and different mechanisms supporting different processes. Some are supposed to keep up the metabolism, others are responsible for our mental activity, but all of them are linked together with prana. Without prana, all these parts are not able to dock with each other. As an enterprise goes bankrupt in case its departments cannot work together, a human being cannot live without coordination of all systems and dies. A million little nuances, and if there is something missing, everything will stop. Our bodies, as well as companies, are exposed to a huge amount of adverse impacts from both outside and inside. It all results in the way that one or another function of our body may not work as we want it to. But if we have enough prana, it will substitute the missing link. If there is a lot of prana, the substitution goes very well. We are in a good condition. As soon as the amount of prana decreases, any failure leads to a significant crash. In the case of human beings, this is illness. If the failure is fatal, and there is no longer prana enough to cover those holes, comes, as doctors say, "a condition not compatible with life", that is death. So, in a sense the concept of life and the concept of prana are equal. In fact, that is why the name of it is “prana", in lots of languages it sounds like something original, timeless, ancient as the world itself.