Excerpts from a lecture given on November 23, 1976 at UCLA in Los Angeles, CA
What is Pranayam? Purifying the blood and circulating the oxygen; purifying the circulatory system. Prana is the single most important element in the body.
What is Prana? Prana is what comes in your life through the breath. We call it breath of life.
For Prana it is essential there should be air. The vehicle of Prana is air. Prana travels through air. Life can travel through a vacuum, Prana can't. Sound needs a medium also; it cannot travel through a vacuum. Prana has a vehicle called air.
So what is Pranayam? Eyes are important, right? Body is important, sensory system is important. But if there is no Prana, where is the importance? It is the Prana which makes a sensory system work.
The enjoyment of life is the enjoyment of Pranic energy. A hundred years ago, if I would have talked about atomic energy, you would have made a mockery of it. Five thousand years ago people discovered this Pranic energy and a human's life was very long, very healthy, and very intuitive. How did they discover it? This is not the knowledge of the dead. Yoga is the knowledge of the living being.
What is the benefit of alternate nostril breathing? It gives you control of behavior. It gives you control of the temperature of the body. If you breathe through the left nostril, you will be calm and regain your strength. Alternate breathing through left nostril and right nostril gives you balanced help, balanced behavior and control of your temperament.
©The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan