The Bhagavad Gita in the fourth chapter has beautifully indicated pranayama as a method to reach the goal of realization of the self. The 29th verse of the fourth chapter mentions
अपाने जुह्वति प्राणं प्राणेऽपानं तथापरे |Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4 verse 29
प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा प्राणायामपरायणा: ||
apāne juhvati prāṇaṁ prāṇe ’pānaṁ tathāpareBhagavad Gita Chapter 4 verse 29
prāṇāpāna-gatī ruddhvā prāṇāyāma-parāyaṇāḥ
The verse translates to “Others offer as sacrifice the out-going breath in the incoming, and the in-coming in the out-going, restraining the courses of the out-going and in-coming breaths, solely absorbed in the restraint of breath.“
In this verse we have a description of the technique of ‘breath-control’ regularly practised by some seekers. It is to keep themselves under perfect self-control, when they move amidst the sense-objects. Pranayama in the Bhagavad Gita chapter 4 has been mentioned as a way to withdraw from sense perception.
As a sacrifice, some offer “THE OUT-GOING BREATH INTO THE IN-COMING BREATH AND OTHERS OFFER THE IN-COMING INTO THE OUT-GOING.” The latter is, in the technique of Pranayama, called the Puraka, meaning the ‘process of filing in’; while the former is the ‘process of blowing out,’ technically called the Rechaka.
These two processes when alternated with an interval, wherein the ‘breath is held for some time,’ within and without, which is called the Kumbhaka. This process of Puraka-Kumbhakam Rechaka-Kumbhaka, when practiced in a prescribed ratio, becomes the technique of breath control (Pranayama).
Swami Chinmayananda explains in the verse mentioning Pranayama in the Bhagavad Gita that Prana is not the breath; this is a general misunderstanding. Through breath-control we come to gain a perfect mastery over the activities of the Pranas in us. When very closely observed, we find that the term Prana used in the Hindu Scriptures indicates the various “manifested activities of life in a living body.”
These activities of life within, about which an ordinary man is quite unconscious, are brought under the perfect control of the individual through the process of Pranayama, so that a seeker can, by this path, come to gain a complete capacity to withdraw all his perceptions. This is indeed a great help to a meditator.
18 Chapters of Bhagawad Geeta
The Bhagawad Geeta is comprised of 18 chapters and each chapter is mentioned in the form of a Yoga. Following is a list of all chapter of the Bhagawad Geeta.
- Chapter 1: Yoga of Arjuna’s Grief
- Chapter 2: The Yoga of Knowledge
- Chapter 3: Karma Yoga (The Path of Action)
- Chapter 4: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action in Knowledge
- Chapter 5: The Yoga of True Renunciation
- Chapter 6: The Yoga of Meditation
- Chapter 7: The Yoga of Knowledge and Wisdom
- Chapter 8: The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
- Chapter 9: The Yoga of Royal Secret
- Chapter 10: The Yoga of Divine Glories
- Chapter 11: The Yoga of Cosmic Form
- Chapter 12: The Yoga of Devotion
- Chapter 13: The Yoga of Field and its Knower
- Chapter 14: The Yoga of Guna
- Chapter 15: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
- Chapter 16: The Yoga of Divine and Devilish Estates
- Chapter 17: The Yoga of Threefold Faith
- Chapter 18: The Yoga of Liberation through renunciation