Training in pranayama and meditation

Athaasane dridhe yogee vashee hitamitaashanaha
Guroopadishtamaargena praanaayaamaansamabhyaset.

Thus being established in asana and having control (of the body), taking a balanced diet; pranayamas should be practised according to the instructions of the guru – Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2:1)

Pranayama is generally defined as breath control. Although this interpretation may seem correct in connection with the practices done, it does not convey the complete meaning of the term. The word pranayama comprises of two words – prana and ayama. Prana means ‘the vital energy’ or ‘life force’. It is the force which exists in all matters. Although closely related to the air we breathe, it is more subtle than air or oxygen. Therefore, pranayama should not be considered as mere breathing exercises aimed at introducing extra oxygen into the body. Pranayama makes use of breathing as a means to influence the flow of prana in the nadis or the energy channels of the energy body.

The second word ‘ayama’ is defined as ‘extension’ or ‘expansion’. Put together, pranayama can be defined as ‘extension or expansion of the dimension of the prana’. The techniques of pranayama provide the method whereby the life force can be activated and regulated in order to go beyond one’s normal boundaries or limitations and attain a higher state of energy levels.

In pranayama practices, there are four important aspects of breathing – pooraka / inhalation; kumbhaka / internal breath retention; rechaka / exhalation; shoonyak / external breath retention or nothingness.

Different practices of pranayama involve various combinations of these four aspects of breathing. The most important part of pranayama is actually kumbhaka or breath retention. To do good kumbhaka, there has to be a gradual development of control of breathing. Therefore, initially more emphasis is given to master inhalation and exhalation, in order to strengthen the lungs and balance the pranic systems for the preparation of kumbhaka.

Once you become comfortable in pranayama and learn to focus on breathing, without much efforts, then you can proceed towards meditation.


Meditation is quite often thought of as a practice of eastern traditions. However, it is open to all persons. It is a state of being which brings stillness to a person. Basically meditation, or dhyan , is simply being aware of heightened awareness at every moment of life, or living every moment as being the whole life, or focussing being conscious of every aspect of life. Why should anyone meditate?? Everyone wants happiness, yet few seem to find it. In search of this, we go from one relationship to another, one job to another, one place to another, study different things, train to be in sports, have family, race cars, write books etc etc. We do just about everything to find real happiness outside us. There is nothing wrong in any of these; but they cannot be the cause of our happiness. We think that these outside things and persons are the ones who would give us happiness, contentment, purpose in life.

According to Buddhism, everyone has the potential to experience lasting stable happiness. This happiness lies within ourselves, and can be achieved by practising meditation by anyone, anywhere, in any lifestyle – living in the city, being in a job, raising a family, etc. By practising Meditation, we can learn to be happy at any time, in any situation – even difficult and painful ones. Eventually we can free ourselves of the reactions we have towards dissatisfaction, anger, anxiety. Finally, by looking at things the real way that they exist, we can eliminate completely the very source of all disturbing states of mind and emotions in us.

Though, meditation only involves subduing the mind and bringing it to the right understanding of reality, it is not at all an easy task. It requires a slow and gradual process of listening to and being neutral to the explanations of the mind and nature of things. For this, one has to start slowly and be trained by a Master. Meditation is an activity of the mental consciousness. It can take many forms – concentrating single-pointedly on an internal or external object, praying to an object of devotion, trying to observe your mind, communicating with our own inner wisdom, observing our thoughts, etc etc.

Basic meditation is a state of being which brings stillness to a person. Though meditation is thought of as only to be started for spiritual growth or to achieve altered states of consciousness, (Even if one is not interested in any of these changes), for a day to day purpose also, a person can start meditation. Meditating can help in - Stress reduction, Understanding, Centering and bringing one into clearer focussing, Creativity, Healing, Physical Mental Emotional awareness and development, Calming of self, Becoming more aware of our capabilities, Mental clarity, Relaxation etc etc. You could get in touch with us through email/telephone for learning both pranayama and meditation.