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About Pranayama. Part 2

I would like to look at pranayama more broadly. Not only in the context of breathing exercises - they are just a convenient way. It seems to me that it is precisely a broad view of pranayama that can give an understanding of the very foundations of this discipline, and give some kind of keys to this practice.

The first thing to start with is to consider the concept of prana. Because this is the fundamental concept of yoga in general. In one of its interpretations, prana is life, the pulsation of life in the Universe. Vitality. That which animates all creation. Of course, prana is also defined as breathing. Because breathing gives life, these two terms are in a sense almost synonymous. Prana is the breath of life, the breath of Brahman. We can say that this is the power (shakti) of the Brahman-Creator, with which he animates everything that he has created. When we look at the world through such an understanding of prana, realizing that not only we breathe, but the rest of the world breathes around continuously, that its breath is spandana (pulsation), and that our breath is its manifestation - then the practice of pranayama acquires absolutely different taste. Then you understand why it’s not limited to breathing techniques, why such a view is too narrow.

The second thing that you need to know is, in fact, what "pranayama" means. Ayama here means "control", "expansion", "lengthening", "thinning". In this way, we gain control of prana, life force (not just breath). Its expansion and increase. Therefore, pranayama can be viewed not only as working with breathing, but as working with vital energy in general. And if so, then pranayama can include food intake (which gives us energy), and asanas (which change the energy state), and meditative practices, and in general the way of life as such. This is a perfect example of how one anga (part) of yoga pervades all others. Therefore, it can and should be practiced always, even if you have just stepped on the path of yoga - your practice and your understanding of life (prana) will develop with you.


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