Prānāyāma (Sanskrit: प्राणायाम) is the yogic practice of focusing on breath. In Sanskrit, prana means "vital life force", and yama means to gain control. In yoga, breath is associated with prana, thus, pranayama is a means to elevate the prana shakti, or life energies. Pranayama is described in Hindu texts such as the Bhagavad Gita'' and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
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- Only labor for the good of the world will afford the proper balance. Labor evokes joy and cognizance of Infinity, and imparts a realization of the mobility of the worlds. One may ask, what is the best pranayama? What instills the best rhythm? What can kill the worm of depression? Only work! Only in work is the attraction to perfectment formed. During labor the Fiery Baptism will come. 102.
- We have mentioned pranayama, and at the same time have pointed out natural ways of ascent. Is there a contradiction in this? No, because We do not reject pranayama, and even point out its usefulness, for in certain cases pranayama may be a kind of remedy for the organism. However, We always advise simple pranayama. Breathing is an important process, but, as in everything, a natural pranayama is the best and is in accord with contemporary conditions. People should not devote only a certain time of the day to the purification of breath, but should practice it frequently during the day. For instance, it is healing to inhale fresh prana several times before making an important statement. Public speakers often use this method, but they rarely do it consciously, and it is precisely the conscious inhalation of prana that will transform their breathing. Thus, the objector should understand that We approve of pranayama of a certain quality, but the ancient painful practices must be revised. 441.
- Urusvati knows the power of a deep breath. We have pointed out the benefit of correct breathing before, and much research has been devoted to the subject, but in this book, “Supermundane,” one significant fact should be pointed out. In various fields of work, when feeling fatigued, people will interrupt their work or speech by taking a deep breath and thereby receive an influx of new energy. In most cases, they do this out of intuition, without giving thought to the process. How greatly would the power of this process be increased if it were performed consciously! Remember that this rejuvenating breath is supermundane, for by it man summons Higher Forces. He should understand that for greater effect, he should consciously turn to the Supermundane World and affirm his inner link with the Reservoir of Be-ness. Some workers, when pausing to take a deep breath, close their eyes. Their intuition is correct, for closing the eyes increases their concentration. ... Note also that a supermundane breath is single, without repetition. This is significant, for only in a lone breath can be summoned the full power of energy.
With rapid repetition, shortness of breath can occur, which harms the work. The Thinker advised, “Understand the power of a supermundane breath.” 816.
- Koot Hoomi in Supermundane, Agni Yoga (1938)
- In their essence all the various kinds of pranayama aim to kindle the fires of the heart. Of course, among the multitude of people who practice pranayama very few receive positive results. Where does the cause of this failure lie? Naturally, in an unthinking attitude toward the heart. A complex practice is devised, and the consciousness is focused on keeping count or alternating movements—in other words, on external, material methods. But no earthly calculations are able to kindle the wondrous talisman of the heart. Just as solar energy does not exist without the sun, the heart will not kindle unless there is striving to a focus. Thus, it is easier to kindle the heart by a powerful impulse toward a focal point than by relying on mental calculations. Of course, pranayama was wisely established as an auxiliary method for speeding up results. But as soon as the significance of the mantram of the heart was forgotten, pranayama turned into a mechanical means of fighting off the common cold. Therefore, let us remember that the sacred heart is a path to the focus. 378.
- Love one another — this commandment was wisely given. Nothing can harmonize psychic energy better than love. All the higher communions have been based on the same feeling and are also beneficent for psychic energy. And light pranayama likewise strengthens the basis of the energy. 515.
- Do not exaggerate the significance of pranayama. The science of breathing practised by true Raja Yogis has little in common with ordinary pranayama! The Hatha Yogis are interested only in the control of the vital breathing of the lungs, whereas the ancient Raja Yogis looked upon pranayama as a mental breathing. Verily, only the mastery of this mental breathing brings the highest clairvoyance, restoring the function of the third eye and leading to the true achievements of Raja Yoga.
- Helena Roerich, Letters I, 1 August 1934
- It is much easier for people to give up certain excesses and to perform mechanically a pranayama than to restrain a single habit which is a stumbling block on the path of spiritual progress. But, as it is said, everything mechanical concerns only the outer man and cannot reorganize the inner man, and therefore is worthless; for the transformation of the inner man is the only aim of all true Teachings. Therefore, one must clearly remember that all the Great Teachers care for and deal only with the inner man, whose sphere lies in the realm of thought. Thus, not a single high Raja Yogi or Agni Yogi needs any mechanical or physical exercises. The only concentration allowed by them is concentration on the chosen High Ideal, performed with an unfailing and continual determination to reach it...
- Helena Roerich, Letters I, 29 August 1934
- And now, I would like to warn you against psychism, as this condition is especially dangerous on the first steps of discipleship. Psychics have contact with the lower spheres of the Subtle World, and often they mistake the voices of entities from these spheres for the true Call and the Voice of the Great Teachers whom these entities are trying to impersonate. It is a mistake to think that these voices will always suggest evil acts, depravity, or crime. Only the most primitive and low forces act in this way. Much more dangerous are those who approach under the mask of the Teaching of Light. We know many cases of such "guiding" voices and "luminous" visions. Therefore, the Teachers always warn against psychism, which can be acquired by those who practise pranayama.
- Helena Roerich, Letters I, 29 August 1934