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Yoga Sutra

Samadhi Pada

Sutra 1.34

प्रच्छर्दनविधारणाभ्यां वा प्राणस्य॥३४॥
pracchardana-vidhāraṇa-ābhyāṁ vā prāṇasya ॥34॥

It can also be attained through the practice of gradual nasal expiration and  control of breath

pracchardana= gradual nasal expiration
vidhāraṇa = control
ābhyāṁ = together
= also
prāṇasya = prana

The pacification of the mind is achieved also through the practice of gradual exhalation through nostrils and control of breath. The mind and Prana are bound together. By gaining control over one, we can control the other one. To get Prana under control, one should resort to the breathing exercises. The mind will be pacified with the control Prana. Hence breathing exercises result in the pacification of the mind.

Commentary by Maharishi Vyasha

Or by expiration and retention

Expelling the internal air through nostrils by effort is expiration. The retention is the controlling of the breath.  By these two means, the steadiness of the mind is gained.


Commentary by Swami Vivekananda

By throwing out and restraining the Breath. 

The word used in Prana. Prana is not exactly breath. It is the name for the energy that is in the universe.  Whatever you see in the universe, whatever moves or works, or his life is a manifestation of this Prana. the sum-total of the energy displayed in the universe is called Prana. This Prana, before a cycle begins, remains in an almost motionless state, and when the cycle begins this Prana begins to manifest itself. It is this Prana that is manifested as motion, as the nervous motion in human beings or animals, and the same Prana is manifesting as thought, and so on. The whole universe is a combination of Prana and Akasa; so is the human body. Out of Akasa you get the different materials that you feel and see, and out of Prana all the various forces. Now, this throwing out and restraining the Prana is what is called Pranayama. Patanjali, the father of the Yoga Philosophy, does not give many particular directions about Pranayama, but later on, other Yogis found out various things about this Pranayama and made of it a great science. With Patanjali, it is one of the many ways, but he does not lay much stress on it.

He means that you simply throw the air out, and draw it in, and hold it for some time, that is all, and by that, the mind will become a little calmer. But, later on, you will find that out of this is evolved a particular science called Pranayama. We will hear a little of what those later Yogis have to say. Some of this I have told you before, but a little repetition will serve to fix it in your minds. First, you must remember that this Prana is not the breath.  But that which causes the motion of the breath, that which is the vitality of the breath is the Prana.

Again, the word Prana is used of all the senses; they are all called Prana, the mind is called Prana, and so we see that Prana is the name of a certain force.  And yet we cannot call it force, because the force is only the manifestation of it. It is that which manifests itself as force and everything else in the way of motion. The Chitta, the mind-stuff, is the engine which draws in the Prana from the surroundings and manufactures out of this Prana the various vital forces. First of all the forces that keep the body in preservation, and last thought, will, and all other powers. By this process of breathing, we can control all the various motions in the body, and the various nerve currents that are running through the body. First, we begin to recognize them, and then we slowly get control over them. Now, these later Yogis consider that there are three main currents of this Prana in the human body. One they call Ida, another Pingala, and the third Susumna. Pingala, according to them, is on the right side of the spinal column, and the Ida is on the left side, and in the middle of this spinal column is the Susumna, a vacant channel. Ida and Pingala, according to them, are the currents working in every man, and through these currents, we are performing all the functions of life.

Susumna is present in all, as a possibility; but it works only in the Yogi. You must remember that the Yogi changes his body; as you go on practicing your body changes; it is not the same body that you had before the practice. That is very rational and can be explained because every new thought that we have must make, as it were, a new channel through the brain, and that explains the tremendous conservatism of human nature. Human nature likes to run through the ruts that are already there because it is easy. If we think, just for example’s sake, that the mind is like a needle, and the brain substance a soft lump before it, then each thought that we have makes a street, as it were, in the brain, and this street would close up, but that the grey matter comes and makes a lining to keep it separate. If there were no grey matter there would be no memory, because memory means going over these old streets, retracing a thought as it were. Now perhaps you have remarked that when I talk on subjects that in which I take a few ideas that are familiar to everyone, and combine, and recombine them, it is easy to follow, because these channels are present in everyone’s brain, and it is only necessary to recur to them. But whenever a new subject comes new channels have to be made, so it is not understood so readily. And that is why the brain (it is the brain, and not the people themselves) refuses unconsciously to be acted upon by new ideas. It resists. The Prana is trying to make new channels, and the brain will not allow it. This is the secret of conservatism. The fewer channels there have been in the brain, and the less the needle of the Prana has made these passages, the more conservative will be the brain, the more it will struggle against new thoughts. The more thoughtful the mane, the more complicated will be the streets in his brain, and the more easily he will take to new ideas, and understand them. So with every fresh idea; we make a new impression in the brain, cut new channels through the brain-stuff, and that is why we find that in the practice of Yoga (it is an entirely new set of thoughts and motives) there is so much physical resistance at first.  That is why we find that the part of religion which deals with the world side of nature can be so widely accepted, while the other part, the Philosophy, or the Psychology, which deals with the inner nature of man, is so frequently neglected.  We must remember the definition of this world of ours; it is only the Infinite Existence projected into the plane of consciousness. A little of the Infinite is projected into consciousness, and that we call our world. So there is an Infinite beyond, and religion has to deal with both, with the little lump we call our world, and with the Infinite beyond. Any religion which deals alone with either one of these two will be defective. It must deal with both. That part of religion which deals with this part of the Infinite which has come into this plane of consciousness, got itself caught, as it were, in the plane of consciousness, in the case of time, space, and causation, is quite familiar to us, because we are in that already, and ideas about this world have been with us almost from time immemorial. The part of religion which deals with the Infinite beyond comes entirely new to us, and getting ideas about it produces new channels in the brain, disturbing the whole system, and that is why you find in the practice of Yoga ordinary people are at first turned out of their groove. In order to lessen these disturbances as much as possible all these methods are devised by Patanjali, that we may practice any one of them best suited to us. 

Commentary by Sri Osho


Patanjali gives other alternatives also. If you can do this – being happy with happy people, friendly; compassion with the miserable, joy with the virtuous, indifference with the evil ones – if you can do this, then you enter from the transformation of the mind towards the supermind. If you cannot do – because it is difficult, not easy – then there are other ways. Don’t feel depressed.

Says Patanjali:


Then you enter through the physiology. This is entering through the mind – the first: the second is entering through the physiology. Breathing and thinking are deeply connected as if they are two poles of one thing. You also sometimes become aware, if you are a little mindful, that whenever the mind changes, the breathing changes. For example, you are angry: immediately the breathing changes, the rhythm is gone. The breathing has a different quality. It is non-rhythmic.
When you have passion, lust, sex takes over, the breathing changes; it becomes feverish, mad. 
when you are silent, just not doing anything, just feeling very relaxed, the breathing has a different rhythm. If you watch, ’and Patanjali must have watched very deeply... he says if you watch deeply you can find what type of breathing and its rhythm creates what type of mind. If you feel friendly, the breathing is different. If you feel antagonistic, angry, the breathing is different. So either change the mind and the breathing will change, or you can do the opposite: change the breathing and the mind will change. Change the rhythm of breathing, and the mind will immediately change.

When you feel happy, silent, joyous, remember the rhythm of the breathing. Next time when anger comes, you don’t allow the breathing to change; you retain the rhythm of breathing as if you are happy. Anger is not possible then because the breathing creates the situation. The breathing forces the inner glands in the body which release chemicals in the blood.

That’s why you become red when you are angry: certain chemicals have come into the blood, and you become feverish. Your temperature goes high. The body is ready to fight or take flight; the body is in an emergency. Through hammering of the breathing, this change comes.

Don’t change the breathing. Just retain as if you are silent; just the breathing just has to follow a silent pattern – you will feel it impossible to become angry. When you are feeling very passionate, lust, sex takes over. Just try to be tranquil in the breathing, and you feel sex has disappeared.


Here he suggests a method:


You can do two things: whenever you feel the mind is not tranquil – tense, worried, chattering, anxiety, constantly dreaming – do one thing: first exhale deeply. Always start by exhaling. Exhale deeply: as much as you can, throw the air out. With the throwing of the air the mood will be thrown out, because breathing is everything.

And then expel the breath as far as possible. Take the belly in and retain for few seconds – don’t inhale. Let the air be out, and you don’t inhale for few seconds. Then allow the body to inhale. Inhale deeply – as much as you can. Again stop for few seconds. The same should be the gap as you retain the breath out – if you retain for three seconds, retain the breath in three seconds.

Throw it out; retain for three seconds. Take in; retain for three seconds. But it has to be thrown out completely. Exhale totally and inhale totally, and make a rhythm. Retain, in; retain, out. Retain, in; retain, out. Immediately you will feel a change coming into your whole being. The mood is gone. A new climate has entered into you.

What happens? Why is it so? For many reasons: one, when you start creating this rhythm, your mind is completely diverted. You cannot be angry, because a new thing has started, and mind cannot have two things together. Your mind is now filled with exhaling, inhaling, retaining, creating a rhythm. You are completely absorbed in it, the cooperation with anger is broken: one thing.

This exhaling, inhaling, cleanses the whole body. When you exhale out and retain for three seconds or five seconds – as much as you want, as much as you can – what happens inside? The whole body throws all that is poisonous into the blood. Air is out and the body gets a gap. In that gap all the poisons are thrown out. They come to the heart, they accumulate there – poisonous gases, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, they all gather together there.

You don’t give a chance for them to gather together. You go on breathing in and out. There is no gap, no pause. In that pause, a gap is created, an emptiness. In that emptiness, everything flows and fills it. Then you take a deep inhalation and then you retain. All those poisonous gases become mixed with the breathing; then you again exhale and throw them out. Again pause. Let the poisons gather. And this is a way of throwing things out.

Mind and breath are so much connected – have to be, because breathing is life. A man can be without mind, but cannot be without breathing. Breathing is deeper than mind. Your brain can be operated completely; you will be alive if you can breathe. If the breathing continues, you will be alive.

The brain can be taken out completely. You will vegetate, but you will be alive. You will not be able to open the eyes and talk or do anything, but on the bed you can be alive, vegetating for many years. But mind cannot If the breathing stops, mind disappears.

Yoga found this basic thing – that breathing is deeper than thinking. If you change breathing, you change thinking. And once you know the key, that breathing has the key, you can create any climate that you want: it is up to you. The way you breathe it depends on it. Just you do one thing: for seven days, you just make a notebook of the different types of breathing that happen with different moods.

You are angry: take a notebook and just count breathing – how much you inhale and how much you exhale. Five counts you inhale, three counts you exhale – note it down.

Sometimes you are feeling very, very beautiful – note it down, what is the proportion of inhalation and exhalation, what is the length, is there any pause – note it down. And for seven days just make a diary to feel your own breathing, how it is connected with your moods. Then you can sort it out.

Then whenever you want to drop a mood, just use the opposite pattern. Or, if you want to bring a mood, then use the pattern. Actors, knowingly, unknowingly, come to know it because sometimes they have to be angry without being angry. So what they will do? They will have to create the breathing pattern. They may not be aware, but they will start breathing as if they are angry, and soon the blood rushes in and poisons are released. And without being angry their eyes are red, and they are in a subtle anger state without being angry. They have to make love without being in love; they have to show love without being in love. How they do it? They know a certain secret of yoga.

That’s why I always say a yogi can become the most perfect actor. His stage is vast, that’s all. He is acting – not acting on the stage, but on the stage of the world. He is an actor; he is not a doer. And the difference is that he is taking part in a great drama and he can remain a witness to it and he can remain aloof and detached.

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