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Books on Pranayama

Pranayama is the Yogic science of respiratory discipline. This rhythmic control of breath is the fourth in the traditional eight limbs of yoga (Astanga Yoga) . Its main purpose is to change the ordinarily irregular flow of breath - which can be upset by indigestion, fever, cough, and cold, or by emotions like fear, anger, and lust by bringing the breath under conscious control so that its rhythm becomes slow and even and respiratory effort is eliminated. By means of pranayama not only are the lungs cleansed and aerated, the blood oxygenated, and the nerves purified, but longevity as well as subtle states of consciousness leading to spiritual release are promoted. Pranayama is of great importance in Yoga, considering that the great Patanjali allots three sutras to it (1.34, 2.29, 2.49). The technical details for pranayama were then elaborated in the commentaries of Vyasa , Bhoja, and Vacaspati Misra, and especially in the classical works on hatha yoga .

The technique of pranayama is thought to transform the natural processes already at work in the body. Actually every living creature breathes the prayer "So' ham" ("He am I") with each inward breath, and "Hamsah" ("I am He, the immortal Spirit") with each outgoing breath. This unconscious repetitive prayer goes on throughout life, and is to be brought into full consciousness through the discipline that begins with breathing.