By controlling the act of breathing you can efficiently control all the various motions in the body and the different nerve-currents that are running through the body. You can easily and quickly control and develop body, mind and soul through breath-control or the control of Prana. It is through Pranayama that you can control your circumstances and character and can consciously harmonize the individual life with the cosmic life.
The breath, directed by thought under the control of the will, is a vitalizing regenerating force which you can utilize consciously for self-development; for healing many incurable diseases in your system; for healing others and for other various useful purposes. It is within your easy reach at every moment of your life. Use it judiciously. Many Yogis of yore, like Sri Jnanadeva, Trailinga Swami, Ramalinga Swami and others, had utilized this breath, this force, the Prana, in a variety of ways. You can also do so, if you practice Pranayama by prescribed breathing exercises.
It is Prana that you are breathing rather than the atmospheric air. Inhale slowly and steadily with a concentrated mind. Retain it as long as you can do it comfortably. Then exhale slowly. There should be no strain in any stage of Pranayama. Realize the occult inner life-powers which underlie the breath. Become a Yogi and radiate joy, light and power all around you. Pranavadins or Hatha Yogins consider that Prana Tattva is superior to Manas Tattva, the mind-principle. They say, Prana is present even when the mind is absent during sleep. Hence Prana plays a more vital part than the mind.
If you go through the parables in Kaushitaki and Chhandogya Upanishads, when all the senses, mind and Prana fight amongst themselves as to their superiority, you will find that Prana is regarded as the highest of all. Prana is the oldest, for it starts its functioning from the very moment the child is conceived. On the contrary, the organs of hearing, etc., begin to function only when their special abodes, viz., the ears, etc., are formed. Prana is called Jyeshtha and Sreshtha (oldest and best) in Upanishads. It is through the vibrations of psychic Prana that the life of the mind, Sankalpa or thinking is kept up and thought is produced. You see, hear, talk, sense, think, feel, will, know, etc., through the help of Prana and therefore Srutis declare: “Prana is Brahman.”
Seat of Prana
The seat of Prana is heart. Though the Antahkarana (fourfold mind) is one, yet it assumes four forms, viz., (i) Manas (Mind), (ii) Buddhi (Intellect), (iii) Chitta (Subconscious) and (iv) Ahamkara (Ego) according to the different functions it performs. Likewise, though Prana is one, it assumes five forms viz., (1) Prana, (2) Apana, (3) Samana, (4) Udana and (5) Vyana according to the different functions it performs. This is termed as Vritti Bheda (difference in thought waves). The principal Prana is called Mukhya Prana. The Prana, joined with Ahamkara, lives in the heart. Of these five, Prana and Apana are the chief agents.
The seat of Prana is the heart; of Apana, the anus; of Samana, the region of the naval; of Udana, the throat; while Vyana is all-pervading. It moves all over the body.
The Science of Pranyama by Sri Swami Sivananda