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Pranayam is the Yogic process by which one gets voluntary control over body and
mind. It is the yogic process developed for the purpose of getting control over vital
force. This control ultimately leads to more power to our body and mind. Basically
Pranayam is a Sanskrit word. It is the combination of two words. These words are
Pran and Ayam. The word Pran stands for vital force and Ayam stands for control
and expansion.
Acharya Patanjali is considered as an expert in Yoga. He has written a great book on
Yoga in 400 B.C. The yogic method preached by him is known as s Ashtang Yoga.
The meaning of Ashtang is eight components. He advocated eight steps for Yoga.
These eight steps are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayam, Pratyahar, Dharana, Dhyan,
and Samadhi. Pranayam is the fourth step of Patanjalis Ashtang Yoga
Before going in detail regarding Pranayam, one should understand the meaning and
importance of Pran in the body. As per the Ayurvedic philosophy, Prana means air or
gas. As per this concept, this prana flows all over the body. Not only is that but its
action is different in different parts of the body. In lungs it helps in respiration, in
stomach it helps in digestion, in blood it helps in carrying energy to the distal parts
of the body.
In yogic terminology Pran is not simply air but it is vital force. Vital force is
responsible for maintaining life and hence it is also known as live-force. All creatures
like men, animals, birds, fishes, insects, are alive because of this live-force. It is
believed that at the time of death live-force moves out of the body. As such life can
not exist in the absence of live-force. Vital force is responsible for maintaining life on
earth. Main characters of the life are to survive, to grow, and to reproduce.
Machines, which are having no life, may perform highly complicated functions but it
can not survive, grow, or reproduce
The main characters of the live subjects, are growth, survival, and reproduction. All
these functions are due to the effect of the live-force. A dead body which has no
live-force, can not grow, survive, or reproduce. Under the effect of live-force, all the
body organs function regularly and systematically. Not only that but the
maintenance of perfect coordination between different organs of the body, is also
due to the live-force.
Human body is a very complex and a complicated machine having various organs
like heart, lungs, stomach, kidney, liver, brain etc. All the organs of the body, are
supposed to perform specific functions for specific purpose. For example heart

pumps the blood to different parts of the body for the purpose of providing nutrition
and oxygen, lungs purify the blood, stomach and intestines help in the process of
digestion and absorption of the food, and kidneys are responsible for removing
unwanted elements from the blood. Brain is responsible for receiving information
and sending instructions to various parts of the body. All these body organs operate
with the ultimate goal of survival and reproduction. All these organs have to
function in coordination with each other. This
coordination is maintained by the live-force of the body. This live-force is commonly
known as the vital force.
Human mind is the supreme commander and manager in the body. Physical body
follows and carries out all the orders of the mind. Physical body can not act
independently without the guidance of the mind. Human mind is the decision maker
in all walks of life. Mind receives the information through various sense organs. After
receiving the information, mind analyses them. After analysis, mind decides the
mode of action, and finally it sends appropriate commands to the physical body for
Human mind is having various faculties like memory, intelligence, will-power,
receptivity, and creativity. All these faculties are basically the parameters for
measuring the mental capacity of a person. These mental faculties are dependent
upon the degree of vital force of the mind. More specifically all these faculties are
directly in proportion with the degree of vital force of the mind. As such these
faculties are the parameters by which mental capacity can be accessed. Persons
with higher and stronger vital force will be having better mental capacity compared
to the person having weaker vital force. A dead person can not have memory,
intelligence, receptivity, or creativity, because it does not contain vital force.
Human body is vulnerable to number of diseases. The whole atmosphere around us
is full of different kinds of deadly bacteria and viruses. These organisms are highly
equipped to attack human body. Being pathogenic these organisms are capable of
producing diseases. But all of them can not produce diseases in all man because of
the inbuilt immune mechanism of the body. Human body is having a natural
resistance power which does not allow these organisms to
produce any disease in the body. When the degree of resistance deteriorates due to
some reason, the bacteria can attack the body and can produce disease.

The power of this natural resistance is proportionate to the amount of vital force in
the body. In the dead body there is no vital force, with the effect the dead body is
devoid of natural resistance. A dead body can not fight against the attack of various
bacteria. So decomposition process starts in the body immediately after death. The
basic philosophy of the Homeopathic System of medicine is based on this theory of
vital force. In short our life is sustained due to the existence of vital force.
The level of vital force is not same in each person. Not only that but it varies in the
same person from time to time. It is the common observation that some people are
full of energy and vitality. Such persons are very active. Such persons are creative
and ambitious. These persons are full of vital force. On the other hand the persons
who are having weak vital force are lazy by nature. They are not creative. They
prefer to rest and relax rather than to work. Most of the time, persons having strong
vital force, are successful in life.
In the same way the level of vital force varies in the same person at different
periods of time. Children are very active. They can not remain without any activity
for even a moment. If there is no activity they would like to play. This is because the
level of vital force in the children is very high. As the age advances, the level of vital
force goes down. At the time of old age the vital force is at the minimum level. Most
of the old people are inactive by nature. They prefer to rest rather than to work.
They would not like to start any new venture at this age. In short they just survive
and pass their time. Most of the old age diseases are degenerative in nature. Vital
organs do not function at their full potential in old age. All these changes are due to
reduced level of vital force in old age.
Vital force is one type of energy. It can be called as vital energy. On earth there are
number of energies like electrical energy, mechanical energy, heat energy, atomic
energy. As such whatever exists on earth, are either in the form of matter or in the
form of energy. Even the so called matter is ultimately, nothing but energy.
Physicists have recognized number of energies and discovered rules governing
those energies. But science has remained silent as far as vital energy is concern.
This is the energy which is responsible for life on earth. The basic characters of life
are growth, survival, and reproduction. These characters are seen in all the lives on
earth. A very complicated and complex instrument like the computer can perform
multiple tasks which any normal human being can not perform. But yet the
computer can not have those characters of life i.e. growth, survival and
reproduction. No computer can grow by itself or can reproduce baby computers. On
the other hand the smallest organism like the amoeba can grow, survive and can

reproduce a baby amoeba. All species of earth have existed for millions of years
because of this ability to reproduce. As far as life is concerned the smallest creature
like amoeba is far more superior to any highly complicated machine produced by
the man.
Again it is observed, that the organisms having low vital force, are having limited
functions and activities. While the organisms having high vital force are having
better abilities, and so they can perform multiple functions. Unicellular organisms
like amoeba have very limited functions of growth, survival, and reproduction. While
organisms like insects can perform more functions as compared to amoeba. This is
because they possess stronger vital force as compared to amoeba. Man is gifted
with the highest amount of vital force and hence he can perform multiple tasks as
compared to other
animals. The superiority of man over other animals is due to the higher level of vital
force that he possessed

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