Books recommendation series: Prana and Pranayama
Prana and Pranayama by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati
The theme of the book is to put up-to-date scientific researches of Prana and Pranayama. This book provides a good description of the science of pranayama presented in the classical texts. The Scriptual analogies of the concept of prana have been rendered for the modern reader by giving enough scientific explanation and concise instructions of the different practices and benefits of each pranayama.
This is not a big book, about 350 pages. The book is divided into 3 parts.
- Part 1: Explains the theory of Prana and related yogic concepts such as Prana Kosha - the vital Sheaths, Chakras - Energy Vortices, Nadis - Channels of Prana, Pancha Prana - Pranic Force Fields and Mantra.
- Part 2: Explains the respiratory system as needed in understanding Yogic and Pranic Physiology and the Research undertaken by science on pranayama. It explains in detail the Physiology of Breathing, Yogic Physiology of the nose, Introduction to pranayama, Kumbhaka and explains the research on pranayama and breath.
- Part 3: It provides the guidelines for practicing Pranayama, and the preparatory and classical practices of Pranayama. Almost all Pranayama techniques have been explained greatly.
Takeaways and Suggestions
It’s easy to read, well-organized, and straight-forward. Author (Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati) is very knowledgeable apart from his knowledge on the ancient yogic text he has also very good command over human physiology. From Part 2 some of the topics like Nose physiology and breathing are fascinating to read and recommended to read more than once. It explains beautifully about breathing which is the most vital process of the body. It influences the activities of each and every cell and most importantly, it is intimately connected with the performance of the brain function. Though breathing is an unconscious, natural process for any human being, conscious control of it provides more benefits and provides the bridge between conscious and unconscious areas of the mind.
Well, sometimes few details are a bit more on the technical side of the human body. I think the author was trying to give a correlation between the practice and modern science but personally I feel that this is always not needed as even today modern science is far behind in explaining these practices. Nevertheless good to know but sometimes one can skip a page or two if details are too technical :-)
Part 3 is mostly about Pranayam practices. One can start doing pranayama while reading and is very good reference material for daily practice. The format of explanation for each practice is uniform and can be understood easily. Most of the basic practices are taken from another book Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Satyananda Saraswati from same Publication and Yoga center Bihar School of Yoga
One can also read another book on Pranayama Light on Pranayama by B K S Iyenger to get a slightly different perspective. Overall both books aim the same thing and in combination IMO can be the best resource on Pranayama. Highly Recommended!
btw just to share, I bought the book Prana and Pranayama almost 5 years back. I read a couple of chapters and then left, the same I have done multiple times but this time in this lockdown period I took a plunge to read it completely and also follow some of the practices. I am happy to share that I have read it fully, in fact, revisited many chapters also incorporated some of the practices in my daily workout regime and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
Happy Reading and Practicing.