In India a psycho-spiritual science (called “pranayama”) developed around the concept of energy (called “prana”), the little rivers the energy flowing within our bodies (called “nadis“), and the major energy plexuses (called “chakras”). We can call this a science because it meets the classic requirements of any scientific investigation; a model is posited that predicts certain testable behaviors, which can be verified by anyone who duplicates the conditions of the inquiry. The challenge is – very few people are equipped with, or can develop, the abilities to meet these conditions of inquiry.
A Western definition of energy is the ability to do work. An Eastern explanation is not so different; energy allows us to be, to live, and act in the world. Just as we use the term “energy” to denote all the various kinds of energies that exist, so too in the yogic models one term is used to encapsulate all of the various kinds of energies. This one word is prana.
An understanding of prana is important for the yogi. The control of our energies, our prana, allows us to maintain or improve our health, to provide the energy needed to delve deeper into the mysteries of our existence, and to calm the inner winds that blow our minds from one thought to another. Yin Yoga helps us to manage our pranic energies in several ways. But before we learn how to release or restrain these energies, it is valuable to understand a bit more about prana, the channels along which it flows, and the major plexuses that bridge our various bodies.