Prāna is the energy at the basis of all creation. Everything that exists, animate and inanimate, is a manifestation of prāna in one form or another. At the macrocosmic level, prāna is called Mahā Shakti, which means ‘great power’ (mahā = great, shakti = power).
Within the microcosm of living beings, Mahā Shakti manifests as prāna shakti. Whereas Mahā Shakti is responsible for all creation, animate and inanimate, prāna shakti is the source of all sentient life.
Prāna is your life-force or vital energy, your inner power and strength. It is the energy that powers growth, change and your ability to engage with life. Prāna empowers both the gross physical and the subtle dimensions of your being, for example, prāna powers your intelligence and intuition.
The word prāna can also be translated as breath. At the subtlest and most refined level, it is the energy that powers your spiritual essence.
The term prāna, therefore, has multiple meanings depending on the context. For example, Mahā Prāna is macrocosmic prāna, prāna shakti is microcosmic, and prāna vāyu is the term used to describe a sub-prāna (which will be explained in more detail in part 2 of this article), which lies in the chest. The fact that each of these areas shares the name prāna, points to the fact that it is via the chest, the heart and the lungs that we can connect our individual prāna and consciousness heart to cosmic prāna and consciousness.