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Thread: Prāṇa - In or Out?

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    Prāṇa - In or Out?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté

    We know that prāṇa is part of our daily life support. The wise say we breathe 21,600 times a day (+/-). This breathing is called prāṇāna प्राणन- breathing, respiration.

    Some also may practice prāṇāyāma - we know as the regulation of the breath. Prāṇāyāma is a method to control the breath/life force, but at the same time āyāma, to extend it. The ultimate extension is perfect balance, the center or mādhya, of breath-and-no-breath.

    It is said as prāṇa goes, so do the senses. He or she that manages/ befriends prāṇa is able to manage and control the various dimensions of prāṇa - the mind, taste, touch, etc.

    So my question ( and I hear various views on this matter, I stay neutral ), prāṇa they say is the inward breath, taking in, and apāna is outward breath, the release of air. Yet others say that prāṇa is the outward breath, because it is described as 'rising up', and apāna is described as 'going down'.

    Do people have an opinion on this? What is up or down? In or out?


    praṇām and dhanyavāda
    Last edited by yajvan; 27 November 2015 at 09:36 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Prāṇa - In or Out?

    Quote Originally Posted by yajvan View Post
    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namast

    We know that prāṇa is part of our daily life support.

    So my question ( and I hear various views on this matter, I stay neutral ), prāṇa they say is the inward breath, taking in, and apana is outward breath, the release of air. Yet others say that prāṇa is the outward breath, because it is described as 'rising up', and apana is described as 'going down'. Do people have an opinion on this? What is up or down? In or out?

    praṇām and dhanyavāda
    Dear Yajavan:

    I do not know exactly how people do Pranayama. After an Upanayanam most people are taught about this mostly as a ritual. When they do Sandyavandana they are taught to breathe in through one nose and breathe out through other nose. I have no idea what that does. For me it did not make any sense for a long time.
    After studying the physiology I understood in my own way. I look at the lungs as having two components, upper and lower. Normal unlabored and involuntary breathing is shallow. Typically we move about 400 to 500 ml of air in and out. This amount of air usually fills most, if not all the upper part of the lungs. In general we seldom fill the entire lungs (1500-2000 ml). Pranayama is a conscious voluntary breathing that makes most of the upper and lower parts of the lung to expand. During this breathing first I exhale all the air. Then I start slowly inhaling preferably through nose, does not matter left or right nostril. First I pay attention to my lower part of the lungs. This is the part that is close to the diaphragm. This muscle has to go down to fill the lower segment of the lungs. While filling this part I observe my stomach muscle slowly raise up, accommodating the downward motion of the diaphragm. Once this is accomplished with continuous slow inhalation I fill the upper lungs by making the chest to expand to its maximum and at the peak I observe my shoulders are fully elevated. Now I pause for a while and then exhale at first bringing the shoulder and chest down. Finally I get all the air out of the lower lungs by drawing the stomach close to spine thereby pushing the diaphragm up to its maximum. During the entire process I remain very conscious and imagine the air literally going in and out and both parts of the lungs expanding and deflating. Inhalation ( prana) part is important as it is very active process, exhalation (apana) can be passive It is interesting to know people who discovered and practiced pranayama understood the importance of the deep breathing. At least 5 minutes each day spending on conscious breathing is probably beneficial.
    Love ... VC

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    Re: Prāṇa - In or Out?

    Hi yajvan,
    A very good question. What exactly is prana? Breath or some kind of life-force which travels along subtle channels in the body?

    The sustaining force of the dream body, or something else?

    It seems the term is nebulous and used in different ways. I would be very interested to see what replies are posted here.

    Namaste

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    Re: Prāṇa - In or Out?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté

    VC writes,
    I do not know exactly how people do Pranayama...I have no idea what that does.

    srivijaya writes,
    What exactly is prana? Breath or some kind of life-force which travels along subtle channels in the body?

    There are mutiple ways to practice prāṇāyāma - deep breath, alternating breath, and there are multiple HDF posts on this. Yet one can consider prāṇāyāma 'breath management'.

    My teacher called it 'ordering the breath' i.e. management. Many say prāṇāyāma is a process for cleansing the nadi-s ( nerves yet nādi means sounding) throughout the system.

    Another idea:
    ' As lions, elephants and tigers are tamed very slowly and cautiously, so would prāṇa be brought under control very slowly in gradation measured according to one's capacity and physical limitations '
    Haṭha Yoga Pradipīkā - chapter 2, 16th śloka


    Also:
    The notion of prāṇa प्राण is associated with Brahmā - from prā the breath of life, it is Brahmā that brings vitaility to all. In the sāṃkhya philosophy prāṇa is viewed as Puruṣa.

    If we look to the Brahma Sūtras śloka-s 1.1.22 & 1.1.23 it says the following:

    sūtra 22
    Akasastallingat
    Akasah: ākāśa ; tad: His, of Brahman; lingat:because of characteristic mark. The word akasa (ākāśa) must be understood as Brahman

    ** Sutra 22 above was necessary to allow prāṇa to be discussed next. **
    sūtra 23
    Ata eva prāṇa
    Ata eva: for the same reason ( this refers to sutra 22) ; prāṇaḥ -the breath (also refers to Brahman).
    As prāṇa is described as the cause of the world, such a description can apply to Brahman alone. The word ‘ prāṇa ' must be understood as Brahman.

    More can be added on what prāṇa is via the Chāndogya Upaniṣad (and others) on this. I will add but thought to continue to pursue other HDF members POV on the question what is up or down (in or out) for prāṇa and apāna ?

    praṇām

    reference
    • The Brahma Sutras by Svami Sivananda, The Divine Life Society, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh
    • The Brahma Sutras, Commentary According to Adi Shankara, by Svami Viresvarananda, Advidya ashram
    Last edited by yajvan; 27 March 2009 at 06:12 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Prāṇa - In or Out?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté

    One reason many view prāṇa as inward breath is due to 'pra' प्र rooted in pṝ or prā which means filling, fulfilling; hence one fills (pra) their lungs with air.
    Others see the same in apāna as 'down' or inward breath, due to 'apa' अप which means down, away. So one can see why there may be different views on this matter.

    I thought to add a reference for one's consideration regarding 'up and down' of prāṇa and apāna. Also the Praśna Upaniad is good reading (along with the Chāndogya Upaniṣad ) on the qualities, nature and importance of prāṇa.

    The kaṭhopaniṣad, 2nd adhyāya (chapter) 2nd vallī, 3rd śloka says the following. Note that 'It' in this śloka is discussing the One, or Brahman, the Self of all.

    ūrdhvaṁ pranaṁ unnayatyapanaṁ pratyag asyati
    madhye vāmanam āsanaṁ viśve devā upāsate ||

    It is the one that leads (unnaya) prāṇa upwards (ūrdhvaṁ),
    It is the one that brings down (pratyag) apāna ,
    It is the one seated (āsana) in the middle (madhya) as worthy of adoration.
    It is the one all the gods (viśve devā - senses) adore (upāsate).

    praṇām

    words
    • ūrdhvaṁ ऊर्ध्वम् is upwards , towards the upper part , aloft , above , in the upper regions , higher
      ūrdhva ऊर्ध्व rising or tending upwards , raised , elevated
    • unnaya उन्नय the act of leading up , raising , elevating
    • pratyag प्रत्यग् ~ pratīka प्रतीक - turned or directed inwards
    • asyati - as अस्- to abide, to abide , dwell , stay + yati यति restraint , control , guidance
    • madhya मध्य - middle, middlemost , intermediate , central
    • upāsate or upāsana उपासन adoration , worship
    • āsanaṁ is āsana आसीन - seated or sitting.
    Last edited by yajvan; 23 July 2011 at 09:59 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Prāṇa - In or Out?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namast

    This HDF post http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=3351&highlight=pranayama reviews various approaches to prāṇāyāma i.e.
    • Ujjāyī prāṇāyām
    • Sūrya Bhedana prāṇāyām
    • Nādī Śodhaba prāṇāyām
    • Bhastrikā prāṇāyām
    • Kapālabhāti prāṇāyām
    • etc.
    As a wind drives away smoke and impurities from the atmosphere, prāṇāyām drives away impurities from the body and mind - B.K.S. Iyengar

    praṇām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Prāṇa - In or Out?

    Prana is neither in nor out.

    I am only reporting my prana experience.

    I was not breathing. There was no in or out.

    There was only "prana" refreshment: that is the best description.

    I think it is appropriate to say "prana-breath".

    I understand prana yama is Hatha Yoga.

    My first experience of Hatha Yoga was Richard Hittleman Yoga for Health.

    It didn't mean much to me, except in terms of joints and organs and flexibility and a healthy body, until he had on special about yoga asanas.

    I was just old enough to start school. In one particular asana, I meditated spontaneously.

    I never did prana yama, unless the special breathing and postures under the instructional tape and one time instruction, for me, by an american siddhi, counts. It was efficacious. It isn't as if I had to do it 10,000 times, or something like that. One time thru, done correctly, helped.

    I think apana refers to the movement up or down the subtle channels alongside the spine, preliminary to kundalini experience.

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    Re: Prāṇa - In or Out?

    u may like to check out my posting of 29 jul "want to live long"u may like to go through prashna upnishad as well

  9. #9

    Re: Prāṇa - In or Out?

    I'm pretty sure apana goes out in exhalation and down into the earth through the feet, and prana is the inhalation and drawing up from the earth of subtle energy through the feet. So when you inhale you simultaneously draw in air gross and subtle and subtle energy from the earth.

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    Re: Prāṇa - In or Out?

    It seems prana means different things to different people.

    Breathing is a hinge between the instinctive processes in the human body and the waking mind. As breathing can be done with awareness and carries on whilst we are unaware. As there are many processes which we are unaware of in our body, altering breathing patterns can mess up our internal system, because most of us are unaware of ourselves, except superficially.

    Breath is also connected with the blood of the emotional body. If the emotional body is unstabilised due to other reasons and you do breathing excercises this can unhinge you more in a emotional way. This is why I have always been told not to do breathing excercises until my life is sorted out. Or if i went to live in a cave in the mountains then I could do breathing excercises because there are no other interferences.

    Prana is used in a techincal sense in different ways according to different systems of thought. Modern thought which is a cacophony of different ideas mixed together cannot define prana. This word has just become abused has become entirely subjective, people just cherry picking from here and there whatever meaning they feel like.

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