The first time I read about this, I could not quite well understand.
Just as we call God by zillion names, the infinitely abundant universal energy is called by five different names when it is functioning within our body.
Surprisingly, these five energy flows correspond to some important body function or the other, according to medical science.
We can treat it as “Indian” names for the five processes in our body – the essential processes to sustain us physically.
What is interesting is that these were discovered at least 2000 years ago. They were documented and more importantly, the sages have figured out how to control them so that we are disease-free! That is how this knowledge is applied!
Here is a picture from the book Prana and Pranayama (gratefully acknowledge this – thank you)
The beauty of this understanding, is that it is immensely scientific and even common people like you and me can see the benefits of controlling this prana.
This functions from throat to diaphragm, helps us to sustain by aiding the respiratory process
This functions between the navel and perineum. Helps in excretion, reproduction processes.
This functions between the stomach and navel. Helps in digestive process.
This functions all over the body, helps in the circulatory process, muscular motion.
This functions in controlling all the sense organs and motor organs in the body, as well as eliminating waste through reverse action – vomiting, spitting, swallowing.
By doing Pranayama, what we control is these five pranas – which correspond to the key processes in our body – respiratory, excretory, digestive, circulatory and motor organ control.
The thing to note is that the prana does NOT need a “path” to go from one place to another in the body. It goes wherever the person who is able to control the prana desires it to go. This important point has its key application in curing diseases. Depending on how intensely we are able to “move” the prana to that part of the affected body, we can cure ourselves of the physical and emotional sicknesses.