There are many interesting connections between yoga and physics. Not surprising since both are born out of the minds of enquiring philosophers.
The first law of thermodynamics: Energy cannot be created or destroyed.
What is Prana?
Prana is defined in many ways but most often is referred to as the life force, especially when in relationship to the human body. The term pranayama literally means the expansion of life force and is used in reference to the inhalation of the breath.
But prana also refers to energy. And in a sense even breath is energy. It is the component that creates the oxidation of food providing cellular energy and change within the body. The inspiring breath is prana while the expiring breath is apana. Always energy, but just in a different form.
How is it we can go from no energy to highly energetic. Where did the energy come from? Was it there all the time? Was energy created?
Like a lightbulb getting energy from the wall, humans get it from the air, water, food and sunshine. It exists in many forms much like the electricity from the wall coming from water (hydroelectric), sunshine (solar), ancient plants (coal), and wind.
After the source or energy is “consumed” by the human or the light bulb, it is not destroyed. It simply takes on another form, mostly in the form of heat.
Prana in yogic philosophy takes on much the same role as energy in western philosophy. Energy takes on many forms and can be found in everything. And like the role in the first law of thermodynamics, it is neither created or destroyed.
Prana in our Practice
How we consume and use prana affects our well-being. Becoming more in touch with how our relationship to prana can improve our health and bliss is part of the yogic practice. Next time you come your mat, take time to sense the energy that keeps you moving and how you are defined by that energy. Make every breath count as you inhale prana in and exhale apana out.