To take You in my heart,
This could transform You into a thought.
I won’t do this!
To embrace You with my eyes,
I would transform You into a thorn.
I won’t do this!
I will bring You in my respiration,
So that You become my life.
Pranayama is the fourth stage in Yoga and is considered a very subtle and profound art for complete transformation of the human being.
It includes a series of respiratory and mental concentration techniques that utilise movement and the voluntary expansion of the respiratory organs in a regular and intensive manner. It is comprised of inhalations (puraka), expirations (rechaka) and retentions of the breath (kumbhaka), in a succession that is subtle, sustained and prolonged. Regarding the distinct role of each stage of pranayama, Yoga tradition states that puraka (inhalation) stimulates the organism, rechaka (expiration) eliminates the degraded air together with its associated energies and toxins, and kumbhaka (retention) distributes the energy throughout the entire body. The respiratory movements entail:
- a horizontal expansion (dairghya)
- a vertical ascension (aroha) and
- a circumferential extension (visalata) of the lungs and of the thoracic zone.
Thanks to the abundant oxygen generated by this discipline and the development of respiration, beneficial chemical transformations take place in one’s body. Furthermore, the extraordinary phenomena of biological transmutation is enhanced. Prana is not one and the same thing as ordinary respiration, which is automatic in order to sustain life. Pranayama does not mean control of respiration, although prana is manifested through the breath and is connected to vayu tattva, the subtle element of air and movement. Pranayama, the control of the prana flux, is the most forceful of Yoga”s fundamental methods for radical transformation and rapid evolution. This control is realised by a rhythmic respiration that is creatively harmonized to spiritual transformation. In fact, any technique of pranayama is also a modality to increase “storage” of energy, that is prana. Therefore it improves health and vitality and one may even gradually obtain unusual psychic powers. Pranayama also facilitates control of the mind (as it controls the prana in the pranayama techniques). During a lifetime, the soul (jivatma) and the mind keep prana inside the physical body; when dying, prana, the mind and the soul (jivatma) leave the physical body together.
In Tantra-Yoga, prana is used to intensify the extraordinary latent psychic powers, called siddhi-s, and also energy for the supreme achievement – spiritual liberation. The yogi capable of raising the fundamental energy, kundalini-shakti can perceive prana in countless ways. They often transpose it onto the perception plane as mystical light with fascinating plays of brightness, as well as subtle sounds of incredible harmony and beauty.
In the Hindu magic and occultism, prana is considered to be the source of energy of all magic powers. Magicians use prana in order to galvanize their imagination and will which are the most important features of the Creative Mental Principle. This is the instrument of control for both magic and spiritual transformation.In Ayurveda, vata is one of the three humours (dosha-s) and is a term considered to be a synonym of prana. The famous medical work Charaka–Samhita explains the functions of vata in similar terms to the ones used in Yoga texts to explain functions of prana. The respiratory movements of the lungs that are activated by an inferior pranic energy represent one of the directly perceptible manifestations of prana’s activity.