April 15, 2019
Prana is not merely the 'breath', but it is the Power that makes us breathe. It is in the air, food and drink we take in. It is in every atom of existence. Pranayama, in its true sense, means coming face to face with this prana and understanding its nature, its function. Prana is in everything and does everything. Prana is the energy of the life-force that sustains the whole world and all things in it. It is even in the corpse! Like electricity, prana has multiple functions. It is in every form, odor, taste. In objects that we enjoy, that invigorate us, it is the prana that does so. The prana that is already in the body absorbs the prana from outside.
We do not really know what this prana is and how it works — whether it is static or whether it flows or vibrates. But we can say that as it vibrates or flows through the body, there is physical action, and prana flowing through the mind is thought. As prana passes through the mind it makes you think. One cannot really think about it, as it is that which enables thinking! One cannot talk about prana as it is the energy that talks. How can we know and control this prana?
When you are on the threshold - the middle path - you know what prana is. When you hold your lungs empty you are neither knocked unconscious nor completely conscious in the normal way. As the prana is the energy of the mind, there is an intimate link between it and the mind. Understanding the function of prana you understand the mind. The yogi who wishes to practice pranayama for spiritual progress does not only pay attention to the breathing as such, but to the whole of life, which should be balanced. In our normal everyday life, prana is in constant motion. There is constant income and expenditure of prana. It is never absolutely balanced. Sleep may be regarded as the greatest source of prana: here there is almost no expenditure of prana.
Prana, being dynamic, cannot be stopped, held back. When you know what makes you breathe, what makes you hungry and demands food and digests it, what makes you thirsty and take drink, then you know everything!
Prana is ever vibrant, never absolutely quiet. The energy of prana has to function, but yogis suggest that a life of moderation is most conducive to progress. We find it hard to walk the middle path and tend either to go all out or to stop completely.
However, a life of moderation is pranayama.