Question: What is the role of Pranayama in the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life the role of Pranayama depends on the individual. There are many who do not go through breathing exercises before meditation. Instead they invoke God’s Light and Presence. They feel that by invoking divine Grace, Protection, Peace and Light they can change their nature and purify their life as effectively as they could by doing Pranayama.

If one wants to follow the Yoga of dedicated service, the Yoga of love, devotion and surrender, the Yoga of inner wisdom, or if one wants to bring the psychic being to the fore and let the psychic in him, the divine child in him, guide him and take him to God, then that particular aspirant need not give much importance to prana. He has to give all importance to the highest Peace, Bliss and Power that he wants to bring down from Above. When the Peace, Bliss and Power enter into him, they automatically bring in the infinite life-breath which transforms the finite, limited life-breath that he already holds. So he need not practise systematic inhalation, retention and exhalation. The Light that he brings into his system will regulate his breath, his life-energy, according to the divine necessity in that particular aspirant.

The only breathing exercise a spiritual aspirant really needs is to try to breathe in purity. While breathing in, if he consciously imagines and feels that he is breathing in Perfection from Above, then the limitations inside his system are automatically transformed. The moment we breathe in consciously, the prana inside us has more value. But to go through many vigorous exercises is not at all necessary for God-realisation. If we can breathe in slowly and deeply, and have a devoted feeling towards the Supreme and towards humanity while breathing, we will be able to enter into the world with our divinised breath. When we breathe in with a feeling of spontaneous devotion, we can serve the Supreme as well as humanity spiritually and materially.