Surya is the sun. Bhedana is derived from the root bhid meaning to pierce, to break or pass through.
In Surya Bhedana Pranayama, the breath is inhaled through the right nostril. In other words the prana passes through the Pihgala or Surya nadi. A kumbhaka is then performed and the breath is their exhaled through the left nostril which is the path of the Ida nadi.
2. Keep the back erect and rigid. Lower the head to the trunk. Rest the chin in the notch between the collar-bones just above the breast-bone. (This is Jalandhara Bandha.)
3. Stretch the left arm. Rest the back of the left wrist on the left knee. Perform Jnana with the left hand (as stated in stage 3 of the technique of Ujjayi).
4. Bend the right arm at the elbow. Bend the index and middle fingers towards the palm, keeping them passive. Bring the ring and little fingers towards the thumb. (Plate 148)
5. Place the right thumb on the right side of the nose just below the nasal bone, the ring and little fingers on the left side of the. nose just below the nasal bone, just above the curve of the fatty tissue of the nostrils above the upper jaw.
6. Press the ring and the little finger to block the left side of the nose completely.
7. With the right thumb, press the fatty tissue on the right side so as to make the outer edge of the right nostril parallel to the lower edge of the cartilage of the septum.
8. The right thumb is bent at the top joint and the tip of the thumb is placed at a right angle to the septum. (Plate 149)
9. Now inhale slowly and deeply controlling the aperture of the right nostril with the tip of the thumb nearer the nail. Fill the lungs to the brim (puraka).
10. Then block the right nostril so that both are now blocked.
11. Hold the breath for about 5 seconds (antara kumbhaka).
12. Keeping the right nostril completely blocked, open the left nostril partially and exhale through it slowly and deeply (rechaka).
13. During the exhalation regulate the rhythmic flow of air from the left nostril by adjusting pressure with the ring and little fingers, so that the outer edge of the left nostril is kept parallel to the septum. The pressure should be exerted from the inner sides of the tips of the fingers (away from the nails).
14. This completes one cycle of Surya Bhedana Pranayama. Continue with more cycles at a stretch from 5 to 10 minutes, according to capacity.
15. All the inhalations in Surya Bhedana are from the right nostril and all the exhalations from the left nostril.
16. Throughout the process, the passage of air is felt at the tips of the fingers and the thumbs and in the nasal membranes where pressure is applied. The passage of air makes a sound similar to air escaping from a cycle tube. This sound should be maintained constant throughout by varying pressure on the nostrils.
17. The eyes, temples, eyebrows and the skin on the forehead should remain completely passive and show no" sign of strain.
18. The mind should be absorbed completely in listening to the proper sound of the passage of air and in maintaining a proper rhythm in breathing.
19. Each inhalation and exhalation should last for the same length of time.
20. The inhalation and the exhalation should not be forced. An even and slow rhythm should be maintained throughout.
21. Lie down in Savasana after completing pranayama. (Plate 146)
By reason of the pressure on the nostrils, in this Pranayama the lungs have to work more than in the case of Ujjayi. In Surya Bhedana they filled more slowly, steadily, and fuller than in Ujjayi. Surya Bhedana increases digestive power, soothes and invigorates the nerves, and cleans the sinuses.
It often happens that the passages of both the nostrils are not of the same width, one being bigger than the other. In that case the pressure of the fingers has to be adjusted. In some cases the right nostril is completely blocked while the left one is clear. In that case, inhalation may be done only through the left nostril, while exhalation is done only through the right nostril. In course of time due to the manipulation of the fingers the right nostril clears and inhalation through it becomes possible.
Persons suffering from low blood pressure will derive benefit but those with high blood pressure or heart trouble should not hold their breath after inhalation (antara kumbhaka) whilst practising this pranayama.
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