Pranayama: One of The Most Underestimated Yogic Practice

Maharishi Patanjali, the one who isn’t only the chief author of the Yoga Darshana but also the one who compiled entire science and practice of Yoga in 195 compressed and encrypted aphorisms (sutras) divided into 4 chapters of Patanjala Yoga Sutra.

The great sage mentions the practical aspect and path of Yoga in his second chapter, साधन पाद (Instruments of Yoga), the practice of Ashtanga Yoga (Eight limbs of Yoga). Methodically, these limbs are not only the parts but also the steps in which one has to move in progression for the growth of oneself in Yoga. Initiating oneself by holistically observing the Yama & the Niyama, practicing Asanas (the postures) to make body and some gross aspects of mind conducive and capable to move to Pranayama where we align the pranas, the vital energies in the body and making ourselves more ready to go about the further advance practices of Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

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The great Paradox of the day is that majority of the Yogic world is stuck in the lucrative aspects of Yoga which majorly consists of Asanabhyas, the practice of Asanas. This howsoever lucrative the practices on display are, their efficacy in progressing in the path of liberation or in therapeutical realm is very limited in nature. Pranayama even though being quite ahead in both the above-mentioned aspects isn’t given much importance by the Yogis of the day. The name Pranayama itself suggests controlling the vital energies in this very body-mind complex which when practiced holistically will eliminate all the disorders and diseases. 

To refer Swami Swatmarama, He mentions in his classical Hathayogic text, Hathapradipika, “prāņāyāmena yuktena sarvarogakşayo bhavet” (HathPradipika 2:16) – which literally translates – ‘by proper practice of Pranayama all diseases are annihilated’.

In the journey on the way to liberation the very first condition laid by all eras of Yogis is that the Body and Mind should be perfectly fit and ready to undergo and bear the heavy load of the deeper and advance practices of Yoga in Antaranga Yoga, to roughly mention it – Meditation. To second this, just try to meditate when you are ill or in discomfort. I need no reply back on what is going to happen when you do so. Certainly, it will be an unsuccessful attempt.

Any kind of disease or disorder surfacing on this Body-Mind machine, which we are blessed with, is the result of any malfunctioning or to be more precise imbalance and disturbance of the Pranic energy. The vital energy (Prana) which is keeping this machine alive is categorized in five sub components Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyana present at the specific regions in the body and even more specific in their functions as well. Any disturbances in any of these sub energies can cause the imbalance at that specific region or can hinder their function, both of these results in development of disease or disorder. For example, indigestion is one of the indicators that something is not good with the Samana Prana or a headache indicates the disbalance of Udana, etc.

Pranayama is the practice where you not only do ayama i.e. the control of the Pranic energy but also eventually balance and channelize the flow of prana thereby making this body-mind complex function at its optimum rhythm. Again referring sage Swatmarama, “‘cale vãte calam cittam niścale niścalam bhavet'” (HathPradipika 2:2), which provides an insight on how to get a conscious control on our ever fluctuating and unstable mind. Sage mentions very clearly that the rhythm of our breathing has a deep correlation with the rhythm of working of our mind. More rhythmic our breathing pattern indicates more calmer, channelized and sorted thought patterns, whereas disturbed breathing indicates disturbed thoughts and this whole phenomenon is also applicable vice versa.

To support this statement if we start observing ourselves during different emotional states, we find disturbed breathing at several emotions. For example, when anger takes over we breath very fast, shallow and there is complete loss of rhythm of breath, on the other hand when our mind is stable, calm or at bliss we observe that our breathing is very smooth, effortless and in a perfect rhythm. By this it is clear that if we are able to control our breathing pattern, we are able to control our mind. Yogis since ancient times have demonstrated this very mind control trick using the technique such as Pranayama which also facilitates Pratyahara and further advance ones. Afterall breath is nothing but a gross outcome of our vital energy i.e. prana. Regular Pranayama practioners have a very good control over their emotions, thoughts, are in good health and also lives quite a longer and healthier life because of the efficient utilisation and channelization of the pranic energy.

Pondering over the above-mentioned facts of Pranayama we must reserve an appropriate time in a day for these wonderful yogic practices, making it a routine and receive what all it has to give to us in physical, psychological and spiritual realms. Let us justify the lost worth of Pranayama and show the world how to add a glow our skin, calmness to our mind and an infinite bliss to our soul.

Mr. Deval Chauhan

Mr. Deval Chauhan

Mr. Deval Chauhan is currently working as the Asst. Manager Learning and Academics - Gurukul, Kaivalyadhama, he is also involved in his erstwhile role in the organization as a Yoga Therapist at Scientific Research Department at Kaivalyadhama, Lonavala for the ongoing projects. He has completed his P.G. Diploma in Yoga from Kaivalyadhama, Lonavala (Batch Topper), YCB level 3 of Ministry of AYUSH. Professional Yoga member of Indian Yoga Association. Has been conducting and Teaching the Certificate Course in Yoga with the Indian Navy at INPT Goa. Has experience in conducting Pranayama, Anatomy and Yoga Therapy Teacher at Rishikesh & Mumbai, and YCB courses up to level-3 in other locations and via online modes. Conducted Yoga sessions with Indian Army (MH HQ), Indian Navy (WC) and Mumbai Police (HQ). Vipassana Meditation practitioner (since 2016) and a Yoga student forever, practicing since 2013. Before becoming Yoga Teacher/Therapist he was a Forensic Expert and has worked with Mumbai Police and Maharashtra Cyber Crime.

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