Pranayama is as potent a practice as posture or meditation. It is a form of meditation and can also include posture, but Pranayama is one of the 8 limbs of yoga, sadly neglected, of late apart from in India where it has a lion’s share of attention as posture does here in the west.
Pranayama is breath manipulation. Playing with the Divine, in what ever form you believe the Divine to take, in the breath of life.
The Hindu scriptures say we are given a set number of breaths in each of our individual lives. What we do with these breaths determines our experience of our life. It is an interesting concept to conjure with: most of us breath unconsciously, 24/7. The automatic nervous system quietly rolls on and we are only aware of it’s power when we run out of breath, have been rendered breathless, or have a chest infection.
Imagine if you sat for 5 minutes, chose a pranayama and in the few short minutes completely changed how you felt within your body, within your consciousness. Think about being able to enhance your sense of soul-connection just by sitting and manipulating your breath for these few short minutes.
This is pranayama. A force so potent. A direct route to the wonderlands of your consciousness. The deepest soul-connection. Peace, stillness, now, centred…. There are only wondrous word to describe how wonderful it is as a practice.
You sit as though you are about to swirl in the heavens with your Divine Beloved, usually in easy pose, spine straight, and just allow the breath manipulation to alter your sense of yourself, completely. In this act of humility and stillness you take yourself back to you. The discovery is that you, not this external maya or illusory existence, can alter how you feel.
One of the most potent aspects of the Kundalini practice is the combination of pranayama with posture. This intensifies the potency of the posture by 10. Add intention, why you are doing the particular position, pranayama or Kriya, and you have another boost of potency.
There are many different forms of breath manipulation ranging from slowing the breath down until it almost disappears, through to rapid breath of fire. There are broken breaths, alternate nostril breaths, and times when the breath is held in or out for extended periods.
I have practiced pranayama since 1998. It transformed my recovery, my experience of myself, my relationship to anger and family, it brings me peace.
There are lots of different pranayama on my YouTube channel, and run a weekly class on the subject, at Triyoga in Chelsea, London.