Pranayama is an ancient Sanskrit term that is often translated as prana (breath) + yana (control). By this translation it would mean that Pranayama is control of the breath or control of breathing. Prana, however, is much more than just air that we breathe.
Samael Aun Weor has said the following about Prana:
“Prana is the Great Breath. It is the Cosmic Christ. Prana is the life that palpitates within every atom, as it palpitates in every Sun. Fire burns because of Prana. Water flows because of Prana. Wind blows because of Prana. The sun exists because of Prana, the life we have is Prana. Nothing can exist in the Universe without Prana.”
In China, Prana is known as Chi – the fundamental energy that is as much part of our bodies as it is a part of the whole Universe. Prana is also described as the sum total of all the energies of the Universe.
In the pranayama practice we deal with control of breath, as through breathing we live and by controlling the breath we can gain willpower. Particularly useful willpower is the one over the mind and the sexual impulse. Samael Aun Weor says the following in regards to this:
“Prana is related with the mind. The mind is the vehicle of willpower. Willpower must obey the Great Soul of the Word. Our internal vehicles must be controlled by Pranayana. Prana is life.”
“An intimate connection exists between the mind, the Prana and the semen. We can gain dominion over the mind and Prana by controlling the seminal energy with the force of willpower. Those persons who spill the semen can never gain control of their minds and control of their Prana. Their efforts to gain control over their mind and over Prana will undoubtedly fail.
“People who gain sexual control, also gain control of their minds and control of their prana. These type of human beings reach the true liberation.”
The forms of pranayama that are taught in Gnosis are simple breathing exercises, alternating nostril breathing, an exercise known as Ham Sah, as well as some other others.
The pranayama exercises can be very strengthening, as well as invigorating, as we consciously direct the energies of life within our body. Unfortunately though, many people use from the start very advanced yogic breathing technique that they see online or read in a book, without a proper knowledge of them or of how it affects their system. Therefore, it is important to be properly guided with the exercises of pranayana.