For a common man, it is not possible to locate this centre in the brain, but through the practices of pranayama this centre can be put into action. Many experiments and scientific studies carried out in different parts of the world have shown that pranayama is the best way for temperature control. Pranayamas are not breathing exercises. They do have a strong positive influence, we cannot deny it, but it is wrong to say that pranayama is a breathing exercise.
Prana means energy, it is not breath; it is not air. What you breathe in and out is air, it is the breath and not prana. Prana is the essential energy inherent in every particle of the body. Different names are given to it like bioenergy, vitality, but they do not really convey everything. There are two nadis in the body, ida and pingala. These two flows are very important. One is the pranic flow. It originates in mooladhara chakra and flows within the framework of the spinal cord. This prana is influenced by the practice of pranayama.
If pranayama is correctly practised, it not only controls the body temperature, but it can control the thought waves as well. There are many things which have to be controlled before the spiritual experience. First of all, the mind should be controlled, and thought waves are a part or manifestation of the mind, and pranayama is the most important instrument. With pranayama, mudras and bandhas should also be practised.
When you contract the perineum it is known as moola bandha. When you contract the abdomen it is known as uddiyana bandha. When you contract the thorax it is known as jalandhara bandha. These three bandhas are important as far as pranayama is concerned. When you practise pranayama its first effect is on the lungs, then on the heart, then on the nervous system, and finally on the brain.
Nowadays, scientists have been working on the phenomena of stopping the heart. It means that yoga postulates you can stop the heart and resurrect it. Many times this has been demonstrated publicly, and many times when the heart is stopped completely, the medical scientists are also observing it. The heart can also be stopped by controlling the prana. Then prana is converted into the experience of light, and this experience of light continues to be the nucleus of life.
During the period when the heart has completely stopped, there is no activity in the body. If you have no beard, you do not grow any beard at all, if you have a beard it does not grow anymore. There is absolutely no heat in the body but the practitioner has awareness. He is not unconscious, and his awareness functions within a locality. His awareness functions symbolically. There is a small spot of light between the two eyebrows and he is aware of that light alone. He is not aware of himself; he is not aware of time and space. He is not aware of what is happening; he is just aware that there is a light.
As long as light is there, there is life. Therefore, prana controls the life principle and this life principle is defined in yoga in a different way. When you practise pranayama, you are controlling the different influxes of prana in the body. According to the books of yoga, there are five main divisions of prana. There are five divisions and five subdivisions, and through the practice of pranayama these different divisions of prana can be energized in their own locality. But it should be remembered that the ultimate form of prana is the light.
During the period of samadhi, the aspirant withdraws his prana throughout the body and converts it into an experience of light between the two eyebrows. Later when the light disperses, the pranas spread throughout the body. The different organs of the body begin to function. Many scientific studies have been done on this.
In the Himalayas there are a few important places considered to be the original home of yogis. Even now people go and live there. It is very cold. I once lived there for nine months. I was very young, twenty-one. I could never get out of my cottage, there were meters and meters of snow, no heater, no sweater. Everything was frozen and I had to live in the room for nine months. I could not even see the sun. Like that there are many places which are situated in the Himalayas, and most of the swamis, at some time or another spend a few years or months there.
I went to the place which is the origin of Ganga, Gangotri. Where the Ganga is emanating there is a small temple for Ganga, a few cottages this side of the river and a few cottages on the other side of the river. Up to the months of September or October, many people go there for pilgrimage. After that the roads are completely closed due to snow. Only five to ten swamis stay there up to the end of March. After March the pilgrimage season begins again. I went there in order to practise pranayama, because pranayama was my important topic. I have never believed that pranayama is breathing exercise. I am definitely sure that prana opens the secret doors of the mind and experience. I also know that pranayama explodes the hidden phases of energy in man’s mind and man’s body, but it has to be practised properly.
Prana is a wild elephant. If you have not tamed it, it can be disastrous. Therefore, before the practice of pranayama, hatha yoga must be practised. Hatha yoga means the six processes of purification. Before you take to pranayama, asanas should be perfected, and before you take to the higher practices of pranayama, the diet has to be reduced to a minimum. An aspirant of pranayama does not live to eat, but he eats to live. During those nine months that I practised pranayama I developed various experiences. I had two exploding experiences and I could not get out of them. I could not deny them.
In the first experience, I saw saffron-coloured sages with flowing beards walking on the snow-capped mountain. I thought it was a hallucination and I tried to get out of this experience. I gave myself a few slaps and I even twisted my ears, but the experience was still there. A few days later, the second experience was on the same mountain. I saw saris were put there to dry. When I saw those saris, I was thinking that they were the saris of the goddesses Durga, Parvati and Kali. Now, this was a living experience. I am sure that they were not there and I also know that I was not mentally suffering. It was not a hallucination, because I know I was normal, because I was doing all my jobs very well, but at the same time, I saw them. That was called a living experience.
Every experience is inherent in man’s brain, in man’s mind. I will go even further. All experiences which you have in your day-to-day life, you are having within yourself. You do not see me here; you see me within you. Every experience is subjective. Although the object is there, the perception takes place within you. Cognition takes place within you, because when you reduce every matter to atoms, it does not exist anymore.
If you know physics, you know that when matter is reduced to atoms, matter does not exist. Every cognition has a base in matter. When you atomize matter, there is no matter. This can be done by reducing the frequencies of the mind. Therefore, pranayama does not merely regulate the body temperature, it also regulates the experiences, expressions and manifestations of the mind. If you gradually proceed to practise pranayama, perceptions change.
15 January 1981, Munger