What is Pranayama?
Pranayama is the Yogic science of using the breath for health of body and mind. By exercising control over the gross breath, you can control the subtle Prana inside.
The aim of pranayama is the control of prana. If you can control prana, you can completely control all the forces of the universe, mental and physical.
Quote: “The Yogi, using the method of pranayama, is able to absorb the energy from the infinite mass that exists behind, uses this energy for his quick spiritual growth, and within a short time is able to reach the highest perfection.”
-Swami Vishnu-devananda in “Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga”
Most people have forgotten how to breathe properly. It is astonishing how little attention we pay in normal life to the importance of breathing correctly. The breath is the most powerful manifestation of life. In fact, life is breath. When the breath ceases, life ceases. The most important point to understand is the relationship between breath and prana.
This science of using the breath to control the prana (or vital energy) is called pranayama. Sivananda Yoga class teaches different breathing exercises, each one has different effect on the vital energy flow. In fact, by the inhalation, we are bringing more oxygen to our cells and in particular to the brain. Also, by the exhalation, we release carbon dioxide and toxins out of our system.
Pranayama is an integral part of a Sivananda Yoga class. These breathing exercises are powerful in restoring health and increase vitality to our body and mind. Pranayama is best learnt under guidance of a teacher in a pure environment such as an ashram.