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Understanding Pranayama - Part II

By Arun Goel

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How Pranayama works?

Through the practices of Pranayama, a certain amount of heat is generated which influences the existing quantum of energy or Prana. For example, if you produce heat in a vessel, it will heat the existing air.

We all have a certain amount of Prana which gives us life and maintains our organs. Pranayama serves to heat that quantum of Prana which then ascends along the spinal column into the Ajna Chakra. When sufficient heat is generated within the system, the Ajna Chakra sends a feedback to the base (the mooladhara) of kundalini and the dormant potential energy is awakened to increase the energy flow to the Ajna Chakra. This is the purpose of Pranayama.

While Pranayama serves to awaken the kundalini, certain Pranayamas are done to purify the carrying channels so that this increased energy can be handled appropriately. For example, the Ujjayi pranayama clears the pingala nadi for the ascension of kundalini.

The science of Pranayama is based on the retention of prana called 'kumbhaka'. Inhalation and exhalation are merely incidental. Those who are serious in awakening the hidden recesses of the brain need to perfect the art of retention (kumbhaka). During kumbhaka there is an increased blood flow into the brain and simultaneously heat is generated in the system.

The heat generates an increased energy in an electrical form. This electrical spark alters the chemical structure of the cerebral fluid which surrounds the brain. When this fluid is chemically influenced, it affects the behaviour of the brain. This is why one experiences a dizziness.

All the great experiences take place in this condition of dizziness. However, it is important that when this occurs you are fully aware. Few people are able to handle it and that is why the practice of Pranayama should be combined with the practice of concentration. When awakening takes place, dizziness occurs and a visual aid is necessary such as a candle, a dot or the 'Om' symbol.

Therefore, the practice of Pranayama has to be done very intelligently and patiently.

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This article is based on my understanding and interpretation of the works of Swami Satyananda Saraswati through his lecture on 'Awakening Prana' delivered in Denmark, September 1979 .


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