Practical Pranayama – Conscious Breathing

Having followed the requirements for preparation, and wearing loose and unrestrictive clothing, you are now seated with an upright spine in a comfortable position to begin specific exercises.  There are many breathing techniques involved in pranayama, and they must be applied with full understanding of the processes involved. As the electro-magnetic energies involved in breathing are similar to electricity, which gives us light, so the correct rules for ‘wiring’ the nervous system must be adhered to before we can expect any illumination of the spiritual kind.

IMPORTANT! When one first begins to exercise mind control over the involuntary process of breathing, it must be taken lightly – there should be no effort or straining.  The air flow should be enjoyed!

There are different types or levels of Pranayama –

Adham Pranayama – abdominal breath

Madhyam – thoracic breath

Adhyam – upper lung breathing

In following the classic instructions –

Puraka = inhalation

Rechaka = exhalation

Kumbhaka = retention of the breath


Select from the following –

Sukha Pranayama is known as Easy Breath or Rhythm Breath. Breathe in for 4 counts and out for the same number. When this is comfortable, increase to 6 counts, then 8 counts, gradually learning to extend the duration of the breath.

Classic Pranayama uses the ratio 1:4:2 to graduate from the 4:16:8 breath-that is, puraka or inhalation to the count of 4, kumbhaka holding the breath for 16 counts and rechaka or exhalation to the count of 8. Advance to the eventual count of 16:64:32.

Kanishtha (Elementary) – 4:16:8

Madhyama (Medium) –    8:32:16

Uttam – (Advanced grade)  16:64:32

Surya Pranayama is known as the Sun Breath. Close the left nostril with the two little fingers of the Right hand and inhale and exhale solely through the Right Nostril for a few minutes.

Chandra Pranayama is known as the Moon Breath. Close the right nostril with the thumb of the Right hand and inhale and exhale solely through the Left Nostril for a few minutes.Nadis

Sodhana or Nadis Shodhan is known as the Alternating Breath and is one of the most important of the elementary exercises.

One of the Hasta Mudra positions is to use the Right hand, folding in the index and middle finger to allow the thumb to close the right nostril and the two little fingers to close off the left nostril.

Then begin the exercise by blocking the Right nostril with the thumb, inhaling first through the Left nostril, switch by then blocking off the left nostril and exhaling through the Right. Keep the two little fingers blocking the left, then inhale through the Right nostril and exhale through the Left. This sequence completes one round of the exercise. Repeat for 3 rounds, increasing the number as you advance.

Bhastrika is known as Bellows Breath. The simplest version is designed to quickly increase heat and energy of the body and should be avoided by those suffering high blood pressure or any inflammatory disease.

Seated with hands placed over the lower ribs, simply inhale and exhale through the nose rapidly and as strongly as possible, for a series of breaths but without undue strain. This technique can be applied at any time when there is need for warmth as long as there is no food in the stomach.

Sukha Purvaka  is known as Calming Breath and it is important to finish with this exercise following any pranayama involving effort, It is used at any time there is felt a need to relax the nervous system, in seated pose, when lying in Savasana in relaxation or at anytime throughout the day.

Practising the above exercises will prepare you for the Mahat Yoga Pranayama – or Full Deep Breathing.


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