Pranayama (June 2006)

(Breath Control – the fourth limb of Yoga)

Pranayama is a special method of breath-control with which life-force is brought under control and made regular. This is achieved by controlling the incoming and outgoing breath.

How can we perform Pranayama?

There are three main stages:

  1. Purak: This is the way of drawing in breath slowly.
  2. Stambhak: This is retention of breath.
  3. Rechak: This is the way of letting out breath slowly.

There three exercises should be done with ease. When discomfort is felt while retaining the breath, it should be let out slowly. Through practice and training the time taken for exhalation may be increased. The time for Stambhak should be four times longer than Purak and Rechak should take twice the time of Purak.

Method of deep-breathing (as outlined by Mahatma Narayanswami in his “Daily Prayer”)

a)    One should assume absolutely easy sitting or squatting posture with one’s chest, neck and head being in a straight perpendicular position.

b)    Breathe out slowly and when you have emptied yourself, hold out your breath for as long a time as you can conveniently do.

c)     When you feel uneasy, then breathe in slowly and when you filled yourself, hold in your breath for as long a time as you can conveniently do.

d)    When you feel uneasy in this action, then repeat breathing out as you did previously.

e)    These processes must be continued for a sufficiently long period of time to give a thorough exercise to the whole systems.

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