In yogic and Hindu philosophy, prana is the cosmic energy vibrating through the universe and the specific energy that sustains the human body. Through such practices as prayer, meditation, chanting and pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), the yogi attempts to promote the free flow of this energy or beseech his/her deity to assist in opening the nadis, or energy channels, that allow prana (lifetrons) to flow freely. The breath is most associated with prana and is considered essential for lifetrons to flow throughout the body.
Prana is divided into five main pathways in the body:
- Prana, from the head to the svadhishthana (navel or sacral) chakra, which is also the center of prana in the body.
- Apana, from svadhishthana to the muladhara (root) chakra.
- Samana, which is prana energy from the entire body back to svadhishthana.
- Vyana, which is prana energy from svadhishthana to the rest of the body.
- Udana, from svadhishthana to the head.