Thus being established in Asana and having control (of the body) taking balanced diet, Pranayama should be practiced according to the instructions of the guru. The guru will advise the sadhaka of the appropriate Pranayama to practice according to individual need. Pranayama is the process by which the internal pranic store is increased. It is a technique through which the quantity of prana in the body is activated to a higher frequency.
Hatha Yoga says control of Prana, and the mind is automatically controlled. Were as Raja yoga says control the mind and prana becomes controlled. In the process of awakening Kundalini, the Sadhaka has to not only cleared the energy channels (Nadis) but also increases the quantity and quality of prana and store it. Prana is accumulated in six main centers along the spinal column. These centers are located in the subtle body and corresponds to the nerve plexus in the physical body. In the subtle body they are known as Chakra means a circling motion or wheel. Prana Shakti and manas Shakti collect in the Chakra and form swirling masses of energy. There are seven Chakras, i.e. Muladhara, Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Visuddhi, Ajna and Sahasrara. It is best to practice Pranayama when sushmna is flowing. When the breath is flowing naturally through both nostril. (ida and pingala). It means susumnais active Pranayama presented in Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Nadi Suddhi (cleansing of the nadis)
Sit in any meditative posture. Adopt Nasika Mudra. Close the right nostril with the right thumb and exhale completely through the (left) nostril. Then inhale deeply through the same left nostril. Close the left nostril with your ring and little finger of the Nasika Mudra, release the right nostril. Now exhale slowly and completely through the right nostril. Inhale deeply through the same (right) nostril. Then close the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. This is one round of Nadi Suddhi Pranayama.
It promotes balance between the two nostrils apart from cleansing the nasal tract. It increases the vitality. Metabolic rate decreases as in case of all other Pranayama practices. It increases the digestive fire and appetite. It lowers the levels of stress and anxiety by harmonizing the pranas. It is beneficial in respiratory disorders such as Bronchial asthma, Nasal allergy, and Bronchitis.
‘Kapala’ is a Sanskrit word, it means skull. ‘Bhati’ means to shine. The term ‘Kapalabhati’ means an exercise that makes the skull shine.
Sit on Padmasana. Keep the hands on knees. Close the eyes. Perform forceful exhalation followed by passive inhalation. This should be practised rapidly gradually. One will get perspiration profusely. Exhalation plays a prominent part. The head and the trunk should be erect. To start with, you can have one expulsion per second. Gradually you can have two expulsions per second. To begin with do one round in the morning consisting of 10 expulsions only. In the second week, do one round in the evening. In the third week, do two rounds in the morning and two rounds in the evening. Thus every week, gradually and cautiously increase 10 expulsions to each round till you get 120 expulsions for each round. It cleanses the respiratory system and the nasal passages. It removes the spasm in bronchial tubes. Consequently, Asthma is relieved and also cured in course of time. The lungs get proper oxygenation. Carbon dioxide is eliminated in a large scale. Impurities of the blood are thrown out. Tissues and cells absorb a large quantity of oxygen. The practitioner keeps up good health. Heart functions properly. The circulatory and respiratory systems are toned to a considerable degree.
Sit on Padmasana or any sitting posture by keeping your spine, neck and head straight. Close the eyes. Keep the left nostril closed with your right ring and little fingers. Slowly inhale without making any sound as long as you can do it comfortably through the right nostril. Then exhale very slowly without making any sound through the left nostril by closing the right nostril with the thumb. Repeat OM mentally with Bhava and meaning during inhalation and exhalation. This Pranayama should again and again be performed, as it purifies the brain and destroys the intestinal worms and diseases arising from excess of wind (Vayu). This removes the four kinds of evils caused by Vayu and cures Vata or rheumatism. It cures rhinitis and various sorts of neuralgia. The worms that are found in the frontal sinuses are removed. It destroys decay and death, awakens Kundalini Sakti and increases the bodily fire.
Ujjayi The Victorious Breath
Breath is the fuel that feeds the internal fire, gives it life, keeps the flame going. The vital life energy, prana, is controlled by the breath. In yoga, ujjayi breathing (victorious breath) is used to enrich prana. By breathing through the nose, with the mouth closed, the breath is felt from the throat, producing a hissing sound. This sound of the breath keeps the mind focused. As the mind begins to wander, the sound of the breath keeps bringing you back home and away from the mumbling, bumbling mind. The mind becomes focused and calm as each pose flows into the next in concert with the breath. The breath is the link between body and mind.
- Sit in a comfortable meditative pose or lie in savasana. Become aware of the natural breathing process and feel the air passing down through the windpipe. Slightly contract the region at the back of the throat as you do when you swallow. Inhale and exhale through the nose with the mouth closed. Make the inhalation and exhalation long, deep and controlled. Practice full yogic breathing and concentrate on the sound. Begin practicing for 3 minutes and progressively work your way up to 10 minutes.
- Practice as above, but fold the tongue back so that the tip of the tongue presses the back of the soft palate on the roof of the mouth.
- As you inhale say “sa” to yourself and as you exhale say “ha.” Repeat ten times. Inhalation and exhalation should be of equal duration, smooth and relaxed.
- Notice your mind wandering as you practice breathing and keep bringing your mind back to the breath.
- Focus on the exhalation. Notice where your breath normally stops. Increase the fullness of the exhalation.
Fold the tongue so that the tip of the tongue might touch the upper palate and draw the air through the mouth with a hissing sound. Then retain the breath as long as you can without the feeling of suffocation and then exhale slowly through both nostrils. You can keep the two rows of teeth in contact and then inhale the air through the mouth as before. The practice enhances the beauty of the practitioner and vigour of his body. It removes hunger, thirst, indolence and sleep. His strength will be just like that of Indra. He becomes the Lord of Yogins. He is able to do and undo things. He becomes an independent monarch. He becomes invincible. No injury will affect him. When you are thirsty, practise this. You will be relieved of thirst immediately.
Protrude the tongue a little away from the lips. Fold the tongue like a tube. Draw in the air through the mouth with the hissing sound Si. Retain the breath as long as you can hold on with comfort. Then exhale slowly through both nostrils. Practise this daily again and again in the morning from 15 to 30 times. You can do this either on Padmasana, Siddhasana, Vajrasana or even when you stand or walk. This Pranayama purifies the blood. It quenches thirst and appeases hunger. It cools the system. It destroys Gulma (chronic dyspepsia), Pleeha, inflammation of various chronic diseases, fever, consumption, indigestion, bilious disorders, phlegm, & the bad effects of poison. When you are caught up in a jungle or any place where you cannot get water, if you feel thirsty, practise this Pranayama. You will be at once relieved of thirst. He who practises this Pranayama regularly, will not be affected by the bite of serpents and scorpions. Sitali Kumbhaka is an imitation of the respiration of a serpent. The practitioner gets the power of casting his skin and enduring the privation of air, water and food. He becomes a proof against all sorts of inflammations and fever.
In Sanskrit Bhastrika means ‘bellows’. Rapid succession of forcible expulsion is a characteristic feature of Bhastrika. Just as a blacksmith blows his bellows rapidly, so also you should move your breath rapidly. Sit on Padmasana. Keep the body, neck and head erect. Close the mouth. Next, inhale and exhale quickly ten times like the bellows of the blacksmith. Constantly dilate and contract. Bhastrika can be done both in the morning and evening in winter. In summer do it in the morning only during cool hours. Bhastrika relieves inflammation of the throat, increases gastric fire, destroys phlegm, removes diseases of the nose and chest and eradicates asthma, consumption, etc. It gives good appetite It destroys phlegm which is the bolt or obstacle to the door at the mouth of Brahma Nadi (Sushumna). It enables one to know the Kundalini. It removes all diseases which arise from excess of wind, bile and phlegm. It gives warmth to the body. When you have no sufficient warm clothing in a cool region to protect yourself from cold, practise this Pranayama and you will get sufficient warmth in the body quickly.
Sit in your Asana and inhale. Retain the breath. Do Jalandhara Bandha by pressing the chin against the chest. Retain the breath till you expect fainting and then exhale slowly. This is Murchha Kumbhaka as it makes the mind senseless and gives happiness. But this is not suitable for many.
Practice of this Pranayama demands skill on the part of the student. He who practises this Plavini can do Jalastambha (solidification of water) and float on water for any length of time He who practises this Plavini Kumbhaka can live on air and dispense with food for some days. The student actually drinks air like water slowly and sends it to the stomach. The stomach gets bloated a bit. If you tap the stomach when it is filled with air, you will get a peculiar tympanic (air) sound. Gradual practice is necessary. The help of one who is well versed in this Pranayama is also necessary. The student can expel all the air from the stomach by gradual belching.