Value of Pranayama

Life and death under control

Man can put the voluntary nerves into action whenever he likes, and can give them rest when fatigued. When all of these voluntary nerves require rest he sleeps naturally, and by this sleep the voluntary nerves, being refreshed, can work again with full vigor. Man's involuntary nerves, however, irrespective of his will, are working continuously of themselves from his birth. As he has no control over them, he cannot interfere with their action in the least. When these nerves become fatigued these also want rest and naturally fall asleep. This sleep of the involuntary nerves is called Mahanidra, the great sleep, or death. When this takes place, the circulation, respiration, and other vital functions being stopped, the material body naturally begins to decay. After a while, when this great sleep Mahanidra is over, man awakes, with all his desires, and is reborn in a new physical body for the accomplishment of his various yearnings. In this way man binds himself to life and death and fails to achieve final salvation.

Control over death.

But if man can control these involuntary nerves by the aforesaid Pranayama, he can stop the natural decay of the material body and put the involuntary nerves (of the heart, lungs, and other vital organs) to rest periodically, as he does with his voluntary nerves in sleep. After such rest by Pranayama the involuntary nerves become refreshed and work with newly replenished life.

As after sleep. when rest has been taken by the voluntary nerves, man requires no help to awaken naturally; so after death also, when man has enjoyed a full rest, he awakens naturally to life in a new body on earth, If man can "die," that is, consciously put his entire nervous system, voluntary and involuntary, to rest each day by practice of Pranayama, his whole physical system works with great vigor.

Life and death come under the control of the yogi who perseveres in the practice of Pranayama. In that way he saves his body from the premature decay that overtakes most men, and can remain as long as he wishes in his present physical form, thus having time to work out his karma in one body and to fulfill (and so get rid of) all the various desires of his heart. Finally purified, he is no longer required to come again into this world under the influence of Maya, Darkness, or to suffer the "second death."