But, what is Yoga? It is, simply, cleansing the mind. It entails reducing the pile of dross in our mind. It helps form our character, However, purging the mind of all the dross we ignorantly accumulate is an arduous task. It demands unassailable practice, patience and perseverance. For, expunging the deep seated impressions within our mind is not possible overnight.
Our mind works on two levels ~ first the conscious, and then, beneath it, the unconscious. There is a still higher plane upon which it can work. Our sense of ego functions only on the conscious plane. It remains absent in the other two planes.
When our mind rises above the conscious plane it becomes superconscious. And in the consummate form of our super consciousness we change from a fool to a sage. That will, of course, happen to us only if we practise Yoga, following its rules rigorously under a teacher who is already a yogi himself.
The conscious workings of our mind are limited. Human reason moves within a little circle. Beyond this circle lies all that is dear to humanity. Short of a sincere endeavour to realise them makes our life purposeless.
“All our ethical theories, all our moral attitudes, all that is good and great in human nature, have been moulded upon answers that have come beyond the circle”. In every psycho-somatic movement there is a form of prana ~ the vital force in every being. Thought is the finest and highest action of prana. The purpose of Yoga is to manipulate it.
Pranayama is the principal aspect of Yoga. It is a compound expression consisting of prana and ayama. Prana indicates the cosmic energy and ayama the restraint. The prana which influences our body and mind, is nearest to us. If we can control it, we will gain perfection.
Pranayama really means controlling the motion of the lungs which is associated with the breath. Prana is producing the breath. It is moving the lungs, and the movement is drawing in the air. Pranayama is not breathing, but controlling that muscle power which moves the lungs. In the practice of Pranayama, we have a certain control over prana.
Through breathing our life-force, prana is in constant touch with the Cosmic Life Force, regarding which we aren’t conscious. With the discoveries of these and many more important facts about our existence and relationship with the Macrocosm or the ultimate Reality, we learn that pranayama is one of the proven ways of calming the restless mind and invoking the right mood for concentration.