Most of the following contents is just the transliteration of the book written on yoga by yoga therapist 'Sriman sundaram'. I already talked about this 1930-book in my previous yoga post. I think its really useful to all of us even now.
Pranayama – When we hear this word, some of us tend to imagine that we walk over ocean, fly on air or attain great siddhis (powers). 'It's just not that'-aam!
What is Pranayama then?? When I googled, I find that Prana is a term employed in various forms of yoga. In Hindu yoga teachings, it signifies a subtle vitality contained in the air that is modified by the human body to govern its essential functions. The way by which we handle and control is called Prayanama.
Sriman sundaram describes prana as "Uyirnilai sakthi". "Prana" is omniscient and omnipresent. Prana causes the gases move around, stars shine, sun shines, moon give out its cool rays, yanthras work, thoughts and ideas come and disappear, mind works and rests. Prana walks over satva, raja and thamas gunas on us. Handling and controlling this prana is actually the pranayama.
Some people think that it’s just the art of breath control . In that case, snakes, and people who go to get beads (Muthu) out of ocean control breath and they should be great yogis and really healthy. Infact, such people who hold breath and go under ocean get a lot of diseases (yeh..dis-ease heehee if you don't follow, go to my previous post) related to sexual organs and are not explicitly/extraordinarily intelligent.
Okay..why then, pranayama is related to breath control? Having breath (swaasam) in a body is basically due to prana. This breath is an external action created by prana. Prana also has other internal functions or actions. Taking control of prana i.e pranayama directly is not possible and the easier way to handle prana is through breath and its control.
I am just translating this paragraph what I read. I am not very clear. “According to Vedas and shastras, there are many copies of 'brahmaandam' that exist in humans as fine sookshmaas. By controlling the prana in human body, we can control the entire universe and that’s how people get yogic power. Prana is brahmandam and vice-versa. Sriman sundaram compares prana to sun. Sun rays can be reflected on ocean and also on a small cup of water. So Prana is just one thing like that of sun.
Well, such sookshma pranayama has to be learned from a guru carefully and meticulously. But why then are we talking about such a tough and rare art??.
A step from normal living towards prayanama is breath control. Just learning this breath control art can alone fetch so many good things to have a healthy body and mind. It seems this body related art portion of pranayama can be learned w/o guru.
To be contd.