In the novel Dune, the author invented a fighting technique called prana-bindu, which was practiced by a sisterhood to train its agents. This technique, if fully mastered, allows its user to control every nerve and muscle of their bodies. However, the terms, “prana” and “bindu,” were borrowed from Indian yoga practice, and they signify the author’s fantasy of ancient oriental wisdom. Indeed, the goal of yoga is to take control of your body and mind, but before you can do that, you need to understand the basic science behind it.
In Hindu literature, prana is the vital life force, a form of energy that permeates the universe. Many ancient cultures have similar concepts, such as Chinese qi, Indonesian mana, and Latin anima. Prana is present in living beings and inanimate objects alike. For humans, prana sustains life, and every action you do, including daily activities such as eating, walking, and sleeping, requires prana. Prana is the power that flows and cycles inside your body to allow you to live.
Prana is closely related to breathing, and in many cases, prana is breathing. If people stop breathing, or if people’s prana stops flowing, they can no longer live. That is why yoga practices put so much emphasis on breathing exercises. Learning how to breathe is not only a basic step toward body control but also a fundamental method to ensuring prana flow. How does prana flow?
A nadi is a Sanskrit word meaning “tube” or “pipe.” It is the system of channels in which energy flows. The number of nadis of the human body is claimed to be up to hundreds of thousands. For example, some claimed that there are as many as 350,000 nadis, out of which are 14 particularly important ones. However, it is ubiquitously agreed that there are three most vital nadis, ida, pingala, and sushumna.
Nadis carry prana to different parts of the body. When prana cannot flow freely, there must be an obstruction in one of the nadis. The unblocking of the channels is therefore a vital function of yoga. And the primary technique is, again, breathing exercises. At first, people may be able to improve prana flow. After that, they can start trying direct prana to specific nadis and then to the special connect points of nadis, the chakras.
Chakra means “wheel” or “circle” in Sanskrit. They are junctures in the subtle body where nadis intersect. There are 7 main chakras in your body, and each corresponds to specific body functions or mental abilities. They also lie in your body along the spine.
When prana is blockaded, the chakras also become blocked and inactivated. The result is usually discomfort or mental distress. That is why doing yoga can improve your mental state as well as physical wellbeing since yoga can help you relax the body and loosen the mind.
Prana, nadis, and chakras are the cornerstones of your subtle body. Understanding them and learning to control and balance them will help boost your physical and mental capabilities. Doing yoga may not make you a master fight like in Dune, but you will better use your body and deal with emotional stress. As a result, you will be able to enjoy your life to its fullest.