ii.49-52 Right Breath Regulation
2.49 Pranayama is mastering the flow of the life-force (Prana/Qi) through proper Breath Regulation.
This commentary was covered under Yoga’s Eight Limbs: Pranayama (Right Breath Regulation); Pratyahata (Right Control—mastery over the senses.
2.50 Proper Regulation of the Retention and Flow of Prana/Qi*
*The following is a helpful guide to this *advanced* procedure; one does need to be extra-cautious concerning “breath-retention”, what may work for one person does not necessarily apply for another:
Generally, our breath rotates between three different movements in relation to the body: toward it, away from it, and fixed (the breathing mechanisms become still). Space refers to the point of mental focus during the practice. Where the attention goes, the prana flows. The attention is directed either to areas such as the base of the spine or between the eyebrows, or perhaps, when healing is intended, to where the practitioner feels there is a lack of prana. Time means the length of time for the inhalation, exhalation, and retention of the breath. Number refers to the number of repetitions and rounds of the specific practice. The three modifications that the breath takes— inhalation, exhalation, and retention— can be manipulated and regulated to foster progress in pranayama practice.
Note: the advanced practice of pranayama, especially breath retention, should be learned and practiced under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
[Carrera, Jaganath (2012-06-22). Inside The Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Sourcebook for the Study and Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (p. 155) BookMasters. Kindle Edition.]
2.51 There is a fourth kind of pranayama that transcends any movement of inner or outer.
While Patañjali here doesn’t provide any explicit details on the exact nature of what this procedure entails, it certainly emphasizes extending one’s meditation beyond the senses; this includes both inhalation/exhalation of breath. Once again, Zenmar’s procedure of “being prior-to the breath” is an excellent standard to keep in mind. The origin of this technique revolves around “The Sutta on Antecedentness by Breath“, as translated by Ven. Shakya Aryanatta in a now out-of-print pamphlet/manual 2001: The Authorized Dark Zen Meditation Manual of Buddhism, Darkstar Publications, pg. 15:
Breathing in long in-breaths he so discerns, “These are but only long in-breaths.” Breathing long out-breaths he so discerns, “These are but only long out-breaths.” Breathing in short in-breaths he so discerns, “These are only short in-breaths.” Breathing short out-breaths he so discerns, “There are but only short out-breaths. He trains thusly, “I shall breathe in supremely beholding the entire body in recollective antecedentness to it.” He wisely trains thusly, “I shall breathe out supremely beholding the entire body in recollective antecedentness to it.” He wisely trains thusly, “I shall breathe in beholding that which lies before the arising of the body’s formation.” He wisely trains thusly, “I shall breathe out beholding that which lies before the arising of the body’s formation.” He wisely trains thusly, “I shall breathe in/out supremely beholding exquisite joyousness in recollective antecedentness.”
Zenmar then comments on these passages:
The object here is to conquer the sensory body by recollecting that which is prior to its workings and sufferings. In the case of the above, the thorough antecedentness is the target of the exercise, not the breath. Nowhere in the sutta is “breath following” indicated. Buddhists and non-Buddhists who engage in “breath following” are following other than a Buddhist practice. (ibid, pg.17)
I have come to know this through my own experience as when the Tathagatas breathe through you.
2.52 In successful Right Breath Regulation, the dark veil over the Light of the Unborn is dissolved.
This is a highly mystically-charged assertion that the dark veil of sensate phenomena no longer obscures or prevents the Primordial Unborn Light from Shining-through in Absolute Stature. Technically, Patañjali would assert this as follows:
The citta (Mind) has, within its own nature, all-encompassing Gnosis. It is made of sattva (Bodhi-Being) Substance, but is covered by rajas (restless activity) and tamas (dullness or inertia) [subversive] elements; thus by pranayama this covering is dissolved.