Ramana Maharshi on difference Yoga and Self Inquiry
Question : What is the difference between yoga and enquiry?
Ramana Maharshi : Yoga enjoins chitta-vritti-nirodha [repression of thoughts] whereas I prescribe atmanveshana [quest of oneself]. This latter method is more practicable. The mind is repressed in swoon, or as the effect of fasting. But as soon as the cause is withdrawn the mind revives, that is, the thoughts begin to flow as before.
There are just two ways of controlling the mind. Either seek its source, or surrender it to be struck down by the supreme power. Surrender is the recognition of the existence of a higher overruling power. If the mind refuses to help in seeking the source, let it go and wait for its return; then turn it inwards. No one succeeds without patient perseverance.
Question : Is it necessary to control one's breath?
Ramana Maharshi : Breath control is only an aid for diving deep within oneself. One may as well dive down by controlling the mind. When the mind is controlled, the breath is controlled automatically. One need not attempt breath control, mind control is enough. Breath control is only recommended for those who cannot control their minds straightaway.
Question : When should one do pranayama and why is it effective?
Ramana Maharshi : In the absence of enquiry and devotion, the natural sedative pranayama [breath regulation] may be tried. This is known as yoga marga [the path of yoga]. If life is imperilled the whole interest centres round one point, the saving of life. If the breath is held the mind cannot afford to (and does not) jump at its pets - external objects.
Thus there is rest for the mind so long as the breath is held. All attention being turned on breath or its regulation, other interests are lost. The source of breath is the same as that of the mind. Therefore the subsidence of either leads effortlessly to the subsidence of the other.