The Prana laptop
- Simple to use, works well
- Several ways to wear it
- A multitude of breathing exercises
- Nice app
In this review, I turn my attention to Prana. It is a unique wearable device that helps you stay aware of your posture and breathing. Its compact design and simple interface are meant to bring calm and balance to your daily life.
If you think there is no direct relationship between posture and breathing, you are wrong. The two are inextricably linked.
The chest, diaphragm, and lungs are properly aligned when we stand or sit with good posture, allowing for optimal expansion and contraction of the lungs. This results in effective and efficient breathing, which helps deliver oxygen to the body and remove carbon dioxide waste products.
Slouching or bending, on the other hand, can compress the chest and lungs, leading to shallow breathing and decreased oxygen delivery. Additionally, good posture can reduce tension in the muscles of the neck and back, which can improve breathing by reducing restriction and allowing full expansion of the rib cage.
The idea of this device is to facilitate the interconnection between proper breathing and posture in order to improve health and well-being. And we could all use a little of that. Work demands, financial pressures and the hectic pace of modern life have all contributed to increased stress levels in recent years.
I have been putting Prana to the test for the past few weeks. Here is my point of view.
Design and material
How to use
– Follow up
– Body measurements
The bottom line
Prana Review: Design and Material
Prana is a name you may have heard before. Indeed, about six years ago the company introduced a small, wearable accessory that clips to your belt and tracks how your diaphragm and chest move in and out as you breathe, as well as your body position. Due to technical design difficulties, the product was eventually discontinued.
The company is now back with a much improved version. The next-gen Prana has a more functional form factor. But that’s not where the improvements stop.
The core functionality remains unchanged. As before, sensor feedback is used by the wearable to guide you through the essential aspects of breathing work: diaphragmatic breathing, proper posture, and optimal breathing patterns. However, the software that comes with the wearable has been significantly improved and now includes new features such as gamification.
Prana is now available as a circular retractable plastic disc. It’s a bit reminiscent of a standard heart rate chest strap, but without the separate band that holds the main unit in place. Instead, a 59-inch retractable belt is concealed within the device. Pull the stainless steel clip and it will pop out.
There’s no need for special clothes to hold it in place, and the device can be worn over or under your clothes. To fasten, simply pull the belt around your body and secure it by inserting the clip into the retaining receptacle. It’s a smart way to approach things. Because everything is contained in a single unit, there are fewer product components to consider. Plus, this kind of retractable design makes it much easier to attach than the average chest strap.
The device itself is extremely lightweight. It weighs only 26.7 grams and measures 0.6″ x 1.89″ x 2.75″. A status LED and vibrating element are included, along with Bluetooth technology and posture sensors.
Loading, under the hood
According to the website, the rechargeable battery lasts about a day of continuous use. However, it’s not something you should be wearing all day. It is a training tool that is most effective when used occasionally while sitting or standing.
I didn’t put the battery claims to the test by leaving the device on all day. But on a typical day, I would use it for up to half an hour of tracking and the same amount for training. With this type of use, I think I could go over 10 days between charges, even up to two weeks. It’s more than enough.
Prana Review: Tech Specs
Plastic body, stainless steel clip, 59″ retractable belt
None (use smartphone app), side LED light
0.6″ x 1.89″ x 2.75″
3 axis accelerometer
All day, micro USB charging
Prana Review: How to Use
The laptop is pretty decent. But its functionality and the accompanying software are what impressed me the most. As of this writing, there’s only an iOS app, but an Android version should follow soon.
Breathing exercises are crucial in all of this. Prana generates over 80 scientifically validated breathing exercises designed to target specific physiological effects. Real-time sensor feedback informs you of your performance. These can help reduce stress, increase energy, focus better, and sleep better. Or simply teach you how to breathe properly. The exercises can be combined with postural feedback.
The software has clearly undergone extensive testing. You could literally spend hours going through the different options and exercises. Not only do you get a variety of ways to track and train, but everything is polished and works flawlessly. And everything is extremely easy to use.
To start using the device, launch the app and press Prana’s unique physical button for three seconds. This will connect the device to your phone via Bluetooth, and you’re good to go. Then select Training or Tracking. The third option is Live Graph, which simply displays your real-time inhales and exhales, posture information, and related statistical metrics.
I found myself using tracking the most. There are a few decisions to make when choosing this option. To start, you need to decide whether you want to monitor your breathing, your posture, or both at the same time.
You will also need to decide whether you will be sitting, standing, or lying down. Let the cellphone know. Another step is to decide where you will carry Prana. Depending on the other options selected, you can choose between lower back, upper chest, stomach, and even upper arm.
Unlike some competing products, Prana doesn’t rely on tape or tight clothing to stay in place. Instead, you extend the retractable belt and wrap it around your body. As mentioned above, this is held in place by pushing the end pin of the belt onto the device.
If you have chosen to include posture in your tracking, you must stand in a seated or standing position. Then click on the “Set Upright” button. This provides Prana with a reference point for good posture. After that, you can start tracking.
Because I work behind a computer a lot, I usually use the laptop to help me maintain healthy posture at different times of the day. The advantage of the software is that you can change the reference posture at any time by pressing the “Set Upright” button again. I found myself using it when transitioning from a seated to a standing position, for example.
There is also an option to adjust tracking sensitivity. If you find the wearable isn’t picking up your metrics with enough detail, you can choose from three sensitivity levels. I found myself using it sometimes.
A wealth of data
The smartphone app displays a variety of statistics in real time. For posture, this includes the percentage of time you are standing during the session and the number of slumps. The goal is to get as close as possible to a 100% upright silhouette. If you’ve chosen to track your breath, a live graph will display the breaths you inhale and exhale, along with breath rate, breath count, and other stats.
The image of the mannequin is a nice touch. The figure will sag as you start to sag. If you have bad posture, the color will change from green to red and you will be buzzed (optional). It’s a great reminder to strengthen yourself and get back into the green zone. It trains you to pay attention to how you sit or stand, helping you break unconscious habits.
In fact, the company does not recommend wearing Prana while walking. However, I have found that it works perfectly fine when moving around. That said, walking in a perfectly upright position is extremely difficult. It’s not natural. This may be the reason why it is suggested to use it only when stationary.
Training is very similar to tracking in that roughly the same set of metrics are monitored. The difference here is that the laptop guides you. This is done either through vibration alerts or through the gamified mode.
For training, you are supposed to wear Prana between 3 and 15 minutes a day. Essentially, the more time you spend working out, the faster you’ll adopt healthier habits.
Choose one of the 80+ exercises offered. To simplify things, the company has divided them into a few categories, including: Relaxation, Energy, Focus, Sleep, Lung Capacity, Health, and Custom.
For example, the relaxation options will guide you to gradually slow down your breathing. Concentration can help you maintain even breathing while energy will help you increase your breathing rate. There really are a lot of options to explore. And like with tracking, you’ll be guided in real time using a graph and associated stats for breathing and posture.
Haptic mode guides your inhales and exhales via vibration. This is the one to choose if, for example, you want to relax with your eyes closed.
Gamified mode is a bit faster. The basics are the same as when tracking your posture and breathing via haptic feedback. But now everything is presented as a quick game.
The app will ask you to control a flying bird with just your breath. The character flies up when you inhale and swoops down when you exhale. By carefully controlling your breath as per the tips, you are supposed to pick flowers along the way. Slouching stops all movement. Bright!
Body measurements are the third main characteristic of Prana. This is useful for determining the proportion of fat and lean body mass in your body. Because it takes into account both muscle mass and fat mass, body fat percentage is a more accurate indicator of your overall health than body weight alone. Tracking changes in body measurements over time can also provide useful information about the effectiveness of diet and exercise programs aimed at reducing body fat.
Waist circumference, for example, can have a significant impact on your body mechanics as well as the quality of your breathing and posture. Prana takes and records 15 different body measurements, including body fat percentage, to help you achieve your breathing, posture, and overall fitness goals.
It takes a little practice
I had a hard time figuring out how to take the measurements. But after a while I understood things. It’s actually not too difficult with a little practice. Basically, you are supposed to measure each of the different areas of the body by extending the retractable belt and clipping it to the device so that it forms a loop. Press the button and the measurement will be done automatically for you.
Depending on how much practice you have had, it may take longer than 10-15 minutes to complete all of the individual measurements. However, this is not something you should do frequently. Maybe once every few months to see if anything has changed. To help you, the app includes a number of video clips that show how to measure different parts of the body correctly. I found this very useful.
Once you are done with everything, enter your height and gender. The body fat percentage formula is based on US Navy body fat calculations. If you want more information, there is a research paper which explains in detail what is going on in there.
Prana estimated my body fat percentage to be 21.55%. Which, interestingly, matches my smart scale readings. I was hoping the smart scale was off, but it doesn’t seem to be. Still, it puts me in the healthy range for my age. However, having gained more knowledge about my body fat, it motivated me to try to reduce it.
To keep tabs on your progress, there’s a separate history section. This shows your readings for each of 15 different body measurements and body fats, and groups them into weekly and monthly charts. The history section also displays your training and tracking information.
Prana Review: The Bottom Line
I initially saw Prana as little more than a posture tracker, but it’s so much more. The device combines modern wearable technology with ancient mindfulness to help you maintain proper posture and breathing throughout the day.
The software is what impresses the most, as well as the number of customization options. And the fact that everything works perfectly. A lot of work has clearly gone into developing the product.
You can wear Prana in a variety of ways, and thanks to its clever design, there’s no need to use tape or tight clothing to hold everything in place. Simply use the retractable belt that is inside the device.
Use Training or Tracking mode to help improve your breathing or if you just need reminders to stand up straight. Ideal for office work, Prana is an innovative solution that promises to bring a sense of calm and balance to your life.
The laptop can be picked up for $199 on the Company Website. If you are not satisfied with Prana, it comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.