Prana – The Vital Energy in Different Cultures: Review on Knowledge and Practice


  • World Pranic Healing Foundation, Research Centre, Mysore, Karnataka, 570009, India


The subtle energy or Prana is essential for keeping our body healthy and alive. This article aims at analyzing the existence of subtle energy and the development of people’s perception of this concept across different cultures. The review is made on understanding the influence of this vital energy on people’s lives, health, spirituality, customs, and traditions. This article has reviewed, how the eastern and western cultures seemed to differ and are also alike in interpreting and utilizing the benefit of vital force. It also has addressed the need for perceiving vital force to get the desired outcome in one’s wellbeing. It can be summarised that the concepts of subtle energy may be innate, widespread, and in general, proved to be a pathway for reaching into the spiritual realm. Despite varying in the schematic illustration of the subtle energy from distinct cultures, however, the different perceptions and understandings have a common rationale on its application. Further theoretical and experimental research is essential for the scientific establishment of this area of implication.


Culture, Perception, Prana, Subtle Energy, Wellbeing

Subject Discipline

Yoga, Ayurveda, Traditional Knowledge

Full Text:


Levin M. Spiritual Intelligence: Awakening the power of your spirituality and intuition. London: Hodder and Stoughton; 2000.

Tiller WA. What are subtle energies? Journal of Scientific Exploration. 1993; 7(3):293–304.

Benor DJ. Consciousness, bioenergy, and healing. Medford, NJ: Wholistic Healing; 2004 https://doi. org/10.4324/9780203334492-11

Oschman JL. Energy medicine-e-book: The scientific basis. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2015 Sep 4.

Becker RO, Marino AA. Electromagnetism and life. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press; 1982 Jun 30.

Russell EW. The fields of life. Future Science: Life Energies and the Physics of Paranormal Phenomena. 1977:59–72.

Krishna G. Prana: The traditional and the modern view. Future Science: Life Energies and the Physics of Paranormal Phenomena. 1977:81–93.

Alvino G. The human energy field in relation to science, consciousness, and health. Documentoelectrón icoconsultado el. 1996:23–03.

Keehu KR. From Prana to Pranayama: Ancient sources, modern interpretations (Doctoral dissertation, [Honolulu]): [University of Hawaii at Manoa]; 2013 Aug.

Leigh GK, Polonko KA, Leigh CD. A comparison of human energy fields among children, youth, adults, & Dahn masters. Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine. 2003; 14(1):78.

Karagulla S, Van Gelder Kunz D. The chakras and the human energy fields. Quest Books; 1989 Apr 1.

Chogyam N. Rainbow of Liberated Energy. England: Element Books; 1986.

Sui CK. Practical Psychic Self-defense for Home and Office. Institute for Inner Studies; 1999.

Judith A, Anodea J. Eastern body, western mind: Psychology and the chakra system as a path to the self. Random House Digital, Inc; 2004.

Rapgay L. The Tibetan Book of Healing. Salt Lake City, UT:Passage Press; 1996.

MacNutt F, Wimber J. Healing. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press; 1974.

Mallinson J. The Shiva Samhita: A Critical Edition. YogaVidya. com; 2007

Bloomfield M, editor. Hymns of the Atharva-veda: Together with extracts from the ritual books and the commentaries. Clarendon Press; 1897

Nikhilananda S. The Upanishads. A New Translation. 1990; 1. I (5th Ed).

“Prana†Veda - Vedas and Vedic Knowledge [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 Aug 6]. Available from:http://www.veda.

Sivananda, SS. The Science of Pranayama. BN Publishing; 2008.

Gambhirananda S. Taittiriya Upanishad with the commentary of Shankaracharya. Kolkata: Advaita Ashram; 2001.

Patra S. Pranamaya kosha from the view point of ancient and modern science. IJOYAS. 2017; 6:260–1

Olivelle P. The early Upanishads: Annotated text and translation. Oxford University Press; 1998 Sep 24.

Mallinson J, Singleton M. Roots of Yoga. PenguinBooks; 2017.

Chopra A, Doiphode VV. Ayurvedic medicine: Core concept, therapeutic principles, and current relevance. Medical Clinics. 2002 Jan 1; 86(1):75–89. https://doi. org/10.1016/S0025-7125(03)00073-7

Svoboda RE. Ciratposana of prana: A modern interpretation. Ancient Science of Life. 1985 Oct; 5(2):126.

Zarrilli PB. Three bodies of practice in a traditional South Indian martial art. Social Science & Medicine. 1989 Jan 1; 28(12):1289–309. 9536(89)90348-1

Swami SN. Prana, Pranayama, Pranavidya. Munger, Bihar: Yoga publication trust, Bihar School of yoga; 1994.

Saraswati SM, Saraswati SS. Swara Yoga: The tantric science of brain breathing. Bihar School of Yoga; 1999.

Theosophical Society (Great Britain). Blavatsky Lodge. Transactions of the blavatsky lodge of the theosophical society: Discussions on the Stanzas of the first volume of the secret doctrine. Theosophical Publishing Society; 1890.

Powell AE. The etheric double and allied phenomena 1925. Kessinger Publishing; 2004.

Motoyama H. The functional relationship between yoga asanas and acupuncture Meridians. Tokyo (Japan), I ar P; 1979.

Rinpoche S. The Tibetan book of living and dying: A spiritual classic from one of the foremost interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism to the West. Random House; 2012 Feb 29.

Brennan BA. Light emerging: The journey of personal healing. Bantam; 2011 Mar 16.

Motoyama H. A new science of healing. Share International; 1992.

Swami K. A Study and Practice of Yoga sutras of Patanjali. Rishikesh: The divine life society; 1976.

Vivekananda S. Raja Yoga. Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, Champawat, Himalayas, Kolkota; 2003 Nov.

Sui CK. The ancient science and art of Pranic Healing. Bangalore: Institute of Inner Studies Publishing Foundation India Pvt Ltd.; 1990;17:1–5.-

Nagendra HR. Pranayama, The art and science. Swami Vivekananda Yoga Prakashana; 1998.

Leadbeater CW. The Chakras. Quest Books; 2013 Apr 18.

Patwardhan B, Warude D, Pushpangadan P, Bhatt N. Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine: A comparative overview. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. 2005; 2(4):465–73. ecam/neh140. PMid:16322803. PMCid:PMC1297513

Hankey A. CAM and the phenomenology of pain. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. 2006; 3(1):139–41. PMid:16550235. PMCid:PMC1375225

Ni M. The yellow emperor’s classic of medicine: A new translation of the NeijingSuwen with commentary. Shambhala Publications; 1995 May 10.

Alphen JV, ArisA. Oriental Medicine: An Illustrated Guide to the Asian Arts of Healing. Boston MA:Shambhala Publications; 1996.

What is Qi Chinese medicine. The Journal of Chinese Medicine on Orient Mama [Internet]. 2018 [updated 2018 Apr 23; cited 2019 Aug 24]. Available from: https://www.

Denis L, Joyce L. Acupuncture Handbook. Health Science Press; 1983. p. 4, 133.

Baer HA. Toward an integrative medicine: Merging alternative therapies with biomedicine. Rowman Altamira; 2004 Dec 1.

Wu ES. Teaching about qi: Knowledge transmission among Chinese ethnic practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine in the united states. In After Migration and Religious Affiliation: Religions, Chinese Identities and Transnational Networks; 2015. p. 73–100. https://doi. org/10.1142/9789814590006_0004

Liao W. Tai Chi classics. Boston: Shambala Publications; 1990. p. 5–15

Hsieh D. Hsing-I Chuan. Honolulu. McLisa Enterprises; 1991. p. 1–7.

He J, Zheng M, Zhang M, Jiang H. Acupuncture for mumps in children. Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 2012(9). PMCid:PMC7173704

Beinfield H, Korngold E. Dao and the doctor: The thought and practice of Chinese medicine. In Seminars in Integrative medicine. WB Saunders. 2003 Sep 1; 1(3):136–44. https://

Cox J, Varatharajan S, Côté P, Optima Collaboration. Effectiveness of acupuncture therapies to manage musculoskeletal disorders of the extremities: A systematic review. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. 2016 Jun; 46(6):409–29. jospt.2016.6270. PMid:27117725

Nagilla N, Hankey A, Nagendra HR. Effects of yoga practice on acumeridian energies: Variance reduction implies benefits for regulation. International Journal of Yoga. 2013 Jan; 6(1):63. PMid:23439630. PMCid:PMC3573545

Mayor DF, Micozzi MS. SD-energy medicine east and west E-book: A natural history of QI. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2011 May 31.

William Lee Rand. Reiki Energy [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 Aug 24]. Available from: https:/>reiki news>whatislg.

Barnett L, Chambers M, Davidson S. Reiki energy medicine: Bringing healing touch into home, hospital, and hospice. Inner Traditions/Bear & Co; 1996. p. 2

Chu DA. Tai chi, qi gong and reiki. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America. 2004 Nov 1; 15:773–82. PMid:15458751

Coddington M. Seekers of the healing energy: Reich, Cayce, the Kahunas, and other masters of the vital force. Inner Traditions/Bear & Co; 1991.

Eisenberg D, Wright TL. Encounters with Qi Exploring Chinese Medicine; 1986

Brennan BA. Hands of light: A guide to healing through the human energy field. Random House; 1988.

Cohen E. The mind possessed: The cognition of spirit possession in an Afro-Brazilian religious tradition. Oxford University Press; 2007 Aug 9.

Dollman J. Living Shamanism: Unveiling the mystery. John Hunt Publishing; 2012 Dec 31.

Roazzi MM, Johnson CN, Nyhof M, Koller SH, Roazzi A. Vital Energy and Afterlife: Implications for Cognitive Science of Religion. Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto). 2015 Aug; 25(61):145–52.

Sui, Choa Kok. The Spiritual Essence of Man The chakras and the inverted tree of life. Institute for inner studies. Makati city; 2003.

Davidson, J. Subtle Energy. London: Random House UK; 1996.

Gerber R. Vibrational medicine for the 21st century: The complete guide to energy healing and spiritual transformation. Eagle Brook; 2000.

Hammer O. Claiming knowledge: Strategies of epistemology from theosophy to the new age. Brill; 2003 Nov 17.

Hardy D, Hardy M, Killick M, Killick K. Pyramid energy. Clayton GA: Cadake Industries; 1987.

Chan C, Ying Ho PS, Chow E. A body-mind-spirit model in health: An Eastern approach. Social work in health care. 2002 Aug 8; 34(3-4):261–82. J010v34n03_02. PMid:12243428

Lockhart M. The subtle energy body: The complete guide. Simon and Schuster; 2010 Sep 23.

Jain S, Mills PJ. Biofield therapies: helpful or full of hype? A best evidence synthesis. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2010 Mar 1; 17(1):1–6. s12529-009-9062-4. PMid:19856109

Wolf FA, Wolf FA. Taking the quantum leap: The new physics for nonscientists. New York: Harper & Row; 1981 Jan.

Guthrie DW, Gamble M. Energy therapies and diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Spectrum. 2001 Aug 1; 14(3):149–53.

Scott-Mumby K. Virtual Medicine: A new dimension in energy healing. Polimedia Communications; 2008.

Wallace BA. Scientific and Buddhist views of energy. Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine Journal Archives. 2004; 15(1):17.

Jois SN, Aithal R, D’Souza L, Gayatri R. The perception of prana and its effect on psychological well-being. Journal of Research: The Bede Athenaeum. 2015; 6(1):210–15.

Jois SN, Manasa B, Lancy D. Sensation of pranic energy between hands: an exploratory study. Indian Journal of Ancient Medicine and Yoga. 2017; 10:5–11.

Jois SN, Manasa B, D’Souza L. Pre and post experiences of viewing human aura: An exploratory study. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy.2017; 8 (2):51–5.

Jois SN, Nagaraj SS, Prasad KN, D’Souza L. Training in aura reading: Results from a small quasi-experimental study in India (Research Note). International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. 2018; 37(2):171–6. https://doi. org/10.24972/ijts.2018.37.2.171

Jois SN, D’Souza L, Aithal R, Moulya R. Psychological and bioplasmic states of adolescents upon viewing air and ground prana. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2017; 16:30–4

Jois SN, Manasa B, D’souza L. Psychological wellbeing by awareness of air prana and the aura surrounding a tree among participants from different age group. Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development. 2017; Jul 1:8(3):326–31. 5506.2017.00209.1

Jois SN, Manasa B, D’Souza L, Prasad NK. Viewing of air prana: An exploratory study of perceptions among participants of different gender and education. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy. 2017; 8(3):59–62.


  • There are currently no refbacks.