Prana is Vital or Sentient Energy and Yama is Control or Expansion. Hence, Pranayama is the controlled expansion of the life force. The Universe is Prana. Life is Prana. Consciousness is Prana. This is the View that must be held on to while undertaking the bliss-inducing Pranayama techniques.
The objective of Pranayama and the various Pranayama Techniques is to achieve
- Sensitization or Familiarization
- Unified Concentration
as concerns Prana.
So, the practices are also four-fold, with the initial practices being aimed at the cognition of internal and subtle internal processes. Cognition can be achieved best and quickest, with the aid of visualization. Therefore visualization of a physical nature becomes the first part of the Sensitization practices.
Harmonization occurs when the cognized prana is seen in its various sub-divisions along with their psycho-motor functionality. Just by seeing these internally, balance is brought about in them, through the process of Prana-channel purification. The pranayama techniques practiced for harmonization are Chandra and Surya Bhedana.
Thirdly, once Harmony has been achieved and the individual is prepared to evolve willfully, the practices of vitalization begin, where Prana is taken in from the ambient Universe all around and acting like a battery, we start to build up Prana power, this being the stage of Amplification. Kapalabhati and Bhastrika are the Pranayama Techniques used for Amlification of Prana.
Lastly comes the stage of Kevala Kumbhaka or non-breathing where due to the Pranic power of Unified Concentrated Prana, the body ceases all breathing automatically, being in a state of physical stasis but with the consciousness projected into higher planes of Being. The Unified Prana Power flows into the only Nadi that can take their unified power, that Nadi being termed the Sushumna.
Since Prana and mind are reflections of each other in the body, regular practice of Pranayama leads to control over Prana, which is also control over the mind. The mind being much harder to control than the breath, and the Prana Power being directly co-related to the breathing process, the Pranayama techniques form the bedrock for the higher mind-control and expansion practices that follow.
Chandra and Surya Bhedana, Anuloma Viloma, Hatha Prana Kriya which includes Bhastrika and concentrative pranayama practices such as Brahmari are examples of the Four stages mentioned above respectively.
We must understand very clearly what it means to have control over Prana. Having control over Prana is having control over our lives. Because our lives are based on our cognition of the world around us and our reaction to such cognition. All cognition comes from the mind. The experience of heaven and hell is in the mind. And mind is Prana. And so, control over Prana is literally taking your own destiny into your own hands. Total accountability. And with complete responsibility comes complete rights. These rights are not the meager ‘human rights’ condescendingly granted by a government, ironically elected by the people themselves, to the people.
These are the Universal Rights in wait for any sentient intelligence that takes the voluntary decision to evolve. These are the rights such as the capacity for aesthetically derived pleasure, capacity for pure love, capacity to be free from prejudice, capacity to be ultimately non-relational and at the source of all, the capacity to never cease being, immortality outside the body, transcendence if one wills. These are the rights that one attains to, with control over Prana through Pranayama techniques
Yoga does not occur without Pranayama. With Yoga comes Immortality. Life cannot exist without Prana. And therefore, before the Prana ceases in the living body, through Pranayama, one must strive for the realization of non-mortality, thereby crossing over that final all-consuming defender of Transcendence, Fear.
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