Prana is the unmanifest energy of consciousness that permeates the universe and the manifest force of creation. Prana is our life force and pranayama (life force expansion and control) is the practice of building, moving and directing that energy via the breath using the concentration of the mind - as the breath is one of the 3 sources of (prana) vital energy in the body and a bridge between the body and mind.
As our thoughts effect our breathing patterns (and prana) we can also control our thoughts by our conscious breath. Where the mind goes prana goes. When we breath consciously we are bringing our senses inward, guiding and controlling the prana which produces calmness, stillness, and effects us on subtle levels influencing our psychic and spiritual state which brings us to higher states of awareness. Our pranic breath has inner wisdom and has subtle effects on our consiousness. Kumbhaka (gap/retention) between the controlled inhales and exhales assimilates the prana and stills the mind. The highest stage of pranayama is breathlessness or kevala kumbhaka, where the breath is naturally suspended without any effort and the yogi is in a state of absorption or samadhi.
Pranayama practices play an essential role in purifying the energy channels (nadis) and cultivating and channeling the prana, as well as oxygenating the blood, increasing blood flow to the brain, calming the mind and nervous system, cleansing toxins, and helping digestion.
There are many different pranayama, advanced pranayama and concentration methods across the many yogic traditions to guide the prana in certain energy cooridinates for specific purposes - such as heating or cooling the body, guiding the energy up and down the spine, etc and may include the use bandha, mudra, mantra, nada, and bodily postures as well as conception. Pranayama is the doorway to meditation/advanced states of consciousness. It is referred to as the "inner fire ceremony", purifying our thoughts, mind and life.
Vedic & Healing Arts
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