IT might be asked why the term Prana is used rather than ‘energy’. According to the yogis, it is present in the air, yet it is neither oxygen, nor nitrogen, nor any other chemical constituent of the atmosphere. Prana exists in our food, water, sunlight, but it is neither vitamin nor warmth nor ultraviolet rays. Air, water, food, sunlight: all convey the prana on which all animal and vegetable life depends. Prana penetrates the whole body, even where the air cannot reach. Prana is our true nourishment, for without prana there can be no life. Vitality itself is no more than a special and subtle form of prana, which fills the whole universe. To make itself manifest on the material plane the spirit uses prana to animate the body and its organs.
So far we have not seriously attacked modern Western ideas, but the yogis go beyond an affirmation of the existence of this energy, an energy which no nuclear physicist would deny. For the rishis proclaim – and this forms the very basis of yoga – that prana can be stored in the nervous system, more particularly in the solar plexus. Furthermore, they emphasise this cardinal and essential idea that yogi gives us the power, through thought, of directing the current of prana at will. Yoga thus gives us conscious and voluntary access to the very sources of life.
Conscious control of prana
To reveal the existence of prana is remarkable; but to discover that it can be controlled and to fix the laws and techniques to that end is marvellous and the yogis have done both. The science of controlling prana is called pranayam (ayama = to curb or to master).
_ Prana, The Life Force