Understanding of Pranayama – the breathing technique through Yoga: The course of Yogic study is divided into eight limbs. Asana constitutes the third part. A student of Yoga passes on to Pranayama after mastering Asana.
Pranayama means a pause in the movement of breath.
In modern literature on Yoga, Prana, even in the compound Pranayama, has been often interpreted to mean a subtle psychic force or a subtle cosmic element.
We do not think that the original Sanskrit text of Bhagavan Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras any way warrants this interpretation. In these Sutras the word Prana occurs by itself only once and the wording of the Sutra is so clear that by no stretch of imagination can the word Prana there be taken to refer to anything except breath. In addition to this the word Prana occurs twice in the Sutras every time being compounded with the word Ayama. Here again the wording of the original author, Patanjali, is very clear. He positively refers to respiratory movements. The most important commentators of Patanjali ‘s sutras have invariably explained Prana to mean breath.
Each round of Pranayama is generally a complex act and consists of Puraka (Inhalation), Kumbhaka (Pause) and Recaka (Exhalation).
Pranayama, we have to point out to our reader that the subject is very vast and requires volumes of information for its full treatment. These notes are intended for enabling the reader to follow the technique of the different types of Pranayama intelligently, and also to help him in his Yogic practises. Pranayama is by far the most useful exercise for a physical culturist. To the spiritual culturist its importance is supreme. We are trying our best to supply scientific information to both these classes of readers in the volumes of Yoga-Mimamsa (Kaivalyadhama).
“PRANAYAMEN YUKTEN SARVROGKSHAYO BHAVET!
AYUKTENABHYASYOGEN SARVROGSAMUDBHAVA!!” (H.P-16)
We earnestly request our readers never to allow their enthusiasm to get the better of reason. Pranayama is a weapon that easily lends itself to abuse. In playing with Pranayama, a man plays with his nerves, heart and lungs. Undue strain or imperfect methods in Pranayama may damage these parts permanently. So everyone should proceed into this practise with due caution and care. When this is done and when our instructions are attentively and faithfully followed, Pranayama is perfectly safe. When rightly done, Pranayama will never fail to ensure supreme vitality for the body and external peace for the mind.