The Fourth Limb of Yoga

PRANAYAMA – breath control

“To a yogi, the breath is the key that unlocks the heavy doors that keep the unconscious mind far from our awareness.” – Darren Main

Prana is the life force or energy that exists everywhere and flows through you. Pranayama is the measuring, control, and directing of the breath, in order to purify and remove distractions from the mind, making it easier to concentrate and meditate. It also restore and maintain health and to promote evolution.

Pranayama is extremely important in yoga; it goes hand-in-hand with the physical practice. In the Yoga Sutra, the practices of pranayama and asana are considered to be the highest form of purification and self discipline for the mind and the body. The basic movements of pranayama are inhalation, retention of breath, and exhalation. “The yogi’s life is not measured by the number of days but by the number of his breaths,” says Iyengar.

The practice produces the actual physical sensation of heat (tapas), or the inner fire of purification. It is taught that this heat is part of the process of purifying the nadis, or subtle nerve channels of the body. This allows a more healthful state to be experienced and allows the mind to become more calm. As you follow the proper rhythmic patterns of slow deep breathing, the patterns strengthen the respiratory system, soothe the nervous system and reduce craving. As desires and cravings diminish, the mind is set free and becomes a fit vehicle for concentration.