The Basic Discipline Of Pranayama
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Control of Breath – Pranayama.

The Basic Discipline Of Pranayama

Pranayama is the discipline of controlling the prana or the vital life force. ‘Prana’ means oxygen and ‘Ayama’ means dimension. Thus the meaning of Pranayama is to add new dimension to the vitality of life. Prana should not be confused with air or oxygen. It is more than that. Prana is what differentiates the living from the dead. All living beings breathe. It is one characteristic that makes a living being alive. All living plants and animals, no matter which category they belong to, have this one factor common among them. Prana is that indescribable stuff which makes any being alive. All plants and animals derive this vital force from different sources. This vital force is derived from the atmosphere as well as from the nutrition. Many lowly plants and animals feed upon the dead and derive this vital live force from them. So the prana is the chord of life that never gets destroyed. It gets transferred from dead to living and remains in the universe. Thus the ancient texts believe prana to be more than just oxygen or air, as is popularly believed.

The Sanskrit word prana signifies absolute energy. Prana is the vital supremacy that produces the most important difference of ‘life’ between living and dead creatures. It is the great principle of energy also known as Sanjivani, or the symbol of life. Prana is the life-force that is imbibed into the system, which is basically made of five Tattvas or five elements that are present everywhere in the universe. Prana transforms these non-living tattvas into live energy. Prana also coordinates the perfect synchronization of all these tattvas in the body. Prana keeps them in harmony for perfect health.

Prana is known to exist in the atmospheric air. But it is also existent in places where air cannot even penetrate. It is a multidimensional faculty that exists in all which can support the progression and sustenance of life. Members of plant kingdom can extract prana from the dead and rotten substances buried deep within the ground. Members of animal kingdom are dependent on the members of plant kingdom for the regular supply of prana in the form of pure oxygen that only plants can produce. Maximum prana is contained in fresh air, which can enhance the dynamism and vitality of the human body like nothing else does.

Human beings are the most advanced of all the creatures. They have been given the capacity to think. They have the power to control prana also. Pranayama is a discipline of controlling the vital prana. It is a discipline that can be learnt. Ancient Yogashastra believes that a human being can control his life and health and can even conquer death by learning to control prana.

Pranayama can very simply be defined as inhaling, pausing and exhaling, thus controlling the entire process of breathing. The word pranayama means intermission or break. Yogis believe that by regulating forms of breathing they can control and regulate the flow of prana through the system. Many yogis are known to perform some amazing marvels, which they attribute to regular practice of pranayama. The pranayama is dependent upon the flow of oxygenated blood reaching and replenishing every part of the body.

For effective pranayama to work in the human system, basic knowledge of breathing process is very necessary. There is a marked change in the number of times a person breathes during a minute according to one’s age.

Age Frequency

  • 01 month to 02 years 35 times
  • 02 years to 06 years 23 times
  • 06 years to 12 years 20 times
  • 12 years to 15 years 18 times
  • 15 years till old age 20 times

The practice of Ayurveda recognizes three causes for all diseases in the human body. These causes are wind, biliousness and phlegm. Mainly wrong dietary habits are considered to be the causes for their imbalance in the system. There are many times that a person feels a disturbance in his regular pattern of breathing. Situations of breathlessness are experienced after running or indulging in other strenuous activities, like while being angry, after intercourse, or during events of excitement. Sitting down or relaxing slowly brings the breathing pattern back to normal. Breathing speed increases during sleep as sleep is a process of restoration.

The science of Yoga believes that it is quite possible to regulate the breathing and affect the health as well as longevity of a human being. This is the basic concept behind pranayama. Yoga believes that for a vigorous, long and disease free life it is mandatory to eat a balanced diet, have a pure way of life and think great thoughts. So according to Yoga it is possible to get rid of almost all afflictions just by following the dictum of simple living and high thinking coupled with some regulated breathing exercises of pranayama. This alone is believed to add newer dimensions to an individual’s life.

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