The Science of Pranayama

First in learning of genuine East Indian Magic must be the cultivation of your mystic source of energy (prana), for it is prana that places power behind your magic. Prana provides that power in charging "the magic twins" of imagination/will with force. The Yogis have developed over centuries of study, certain methods of charging the mind and nervous system with prana through techniques of life-giving breath. This particular method of breathing, referred to by the master teachers as Pranayama (prana absorbing rhythmic breathing), is vital to the performance of magic. To this end, study the science of Pranayama as taught in the Orient. It is carefully mastered by all who would be magicians.

Pranayama in definition is the science of the regulation of breath for the purpose of controlling, directing, and applying the prana or vital/energy force. Pranayama is largely concerned with rhythmic breathing consisting of stages of inhalation, retention, and exhalation of the breath in prescribed rhythm. Pranayama is a feature of the great school of Yogi teaching known as Raja Yoga, and is regarded by Hindu Sages, as well as by their students, as a very important part of their magical instruction.

Before proceeding to instruct you in the precise technique of Hindu Rhythmic Breathing, I shall describe the Hindu teaching concerning the physical mechanism which is employed in the processes of Pranayama (the control of prana):

In addition to western physiological knowledge concerning the two great branches of the nervous system, viz., the cerebrospinal nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system, the Hindu Sages teach an additional knowledge concerning man's nervous system, a knowledge that has long been held secret. It is the knowledge known in India as Kundalini, "the serpent power."

For an understanding of this power, the Yoga teachings hold that in each human body there is stored up a supply of prana, and that this supply is constantly in touch with the universal supply of prana which abides throughout all space. Or, to phrase it in the quaint manner of the East, the human body is regarded as a little inlet of prana which is connected with the great ocean of prana, from which an infinite supply may be drawn.

The figurative illustration of the tiny inlet and the great ocean of prana, mentioned above, is part of a favorite Hindu philosophy. It aptly pictures the apparent separateness, but also shows the real connection of contact of the individual existence with the Universal Existence, and of the power which abides in each. In this the Yogi feel that he has "all the prana there is" to draw upon when he needs a greater supply; such is affirmed by the highest of oriental teaching.

Let us now take a general view of the Yoga teachings cojicerning the psychic/physical mechanism over and by means of which the prana operates in the process of Pranayama.

First, it is held that the spinal column is the seat of a wonderful arrangement which is still to be appreciated by western science. The spinal cord is regarded as having an invisible channel in its center called the sushumna. On either side of the sushumna flows a current of prana—the two currents passing through the substance of the spinal cord.

At the lower end of the sushumna (the base of the spinal cord) is found a subtle invisible substance, a tenuous form of akasha in the shape of a triangle. This triangular shaped substance is known as "the Lotus Chamber of the Kundalini," and is the reservoir or storage center of a certain very powerful form of prana which is called kundalini. Kundalini is often referred to as "the secret energy" or "the serpent power" in Hindu teachings. It is regarded as of the greatest importance, and is held as the key of power in many magical and occult processes.

The two currents of prana which flow along the channel of the spinal cord known as the sushumna have distinctive Hindu names. The current that flows on the right side being called pingula, and is the positive current. The current that flows on the left side being called ida (pronounced "ee-dah"), and is the negative current. The terms pingula and ida also apply to the respective channels over which these currents flow, as well as to the currents themselves. Each of these currents has its own distinctive qualities and properties, and produces its own effects. They also constitute important elements in the science of Pranayama.

Another important element of Pranayama is that of "the sushumna lotuses. These are great centers of prana which are located in certain positions along the channel of the sushumna. These "lotuses" or centers are as follows:

1 The Muladhara, or lowest lotus, located at the base of the spinal column.

2 The Svadhisthana, the second in ascending order, located on the spinal column in the region of the reproductive organs.

3 The Manipura, the third in ascending order, located on the spinal column in the region of the solar plexus.

4 The Anahata, the fourth in ascending order, located on the spinal column in the region of the heart.

5 The Visuddha, the fifth in ascending order, located on the spinal column in the region of the throat.

6 The Ajna, the sixth in ascending order, located on the spinal column in the region of the pineal gland within the head.

7 The Sahastrara ("the thousand petalled lotus"), the seventh and highest in ascending order, located at the top of the head (extending in astral form and substance even outside of the head and above it; as the Hindus express it, "brooding over the crown of the head like a bird over her nest".)

These seven centers (lotuses) are called in Hindu teachings the chakras. The term "chakra" in definition means wheel, disc, or whirling around object. This term is applied to these centers because the latter manifests a peculiar vibratory, whirling activity when aroused into motion by the kundalini ascending the channel of the sushumna. In addition to the seven great chakras, there are also various minor chakras located in various parts of the body, but these do not especially concern our present study.

The chakras are not physical organs of the nervous system but are psychical ones. In other words, they are composed of astral oretheric material. The Hindu teaching considers them as "psychic centers of power."

The Brihadesware Temple of Tanjore. Seen through the massive stone gateway is the gopuram of the temple, which towers to a height of 216 feet. The dome rests on a single granite block and is beautifully carved with human figures on the broad base of the tower. The Brihadeswara is known as the grandest temple in India. The building was begun by Emperor RAJA Chola in A.D. 895. It took more than a hundred years to complete the structure.

The Brihadesware Temple of Tanjore. Seen through the massive stone gateway is the gopuram of the temple, which towers to a height of 216 feet. The dome rests on a single granite block and is beautifully carved with human figures on the broad base of the tower. The Brihadeswara is known as the grandest temple in India. The building was begun by Emperor RAJA Chola in A.D. 895. It took more than a hundred years to complete the structure.

When not aroused and energized by the ascending kundalini, the masters say the chakras are motionless and rest like drooping flowers. However, when they are energized, they raise themselves like sunflowers facing the sun and their motionless condition is transformed into one of a rapid whirling motion.

As was mentioned, the function of the lowest chakra (the muladhara) is to act as the storehouse of the kundalini, that potent form of prana. It is the function of the highest chakra (the sahastrara) to distribute the kundalini to the brain. In its entirety, the sushumna may be considered as a great battery of psychic force and power, and each of its chakras has its own special function in

The Chakra Checklist

The Chakra Checklist

The chakras are described as being aligned in an ascending column from the base of the back to the top of the head. New Age practices frequently associate each chakra with a particular color.

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