Viloma Pranayama

Modern Ayurveda

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Loma means hair. The particle vi is used to denote negation or privation. Viloma thus means against the hair, against the grain, against the natural order of things.

In Viloma Pranayama inhalation or exhalation is not one uninterrupted continuous process, but is interrupted by several pauses. For instance, if continuous inhalation to fill the lungs or continuous exhalation to expel the air were to take 15 seconds in each case, in Viloma there would be a pause of about 2 seconds after every third second of inhalation or of exhalation. The process of inhalation or of exhalation is thus lengthened to 25 seconds. The technique given below is in two stages, which are distinct.

TECHNIQUE: STAGE I

1. Viloma Pranayama can be done either in a sitting posture or while lying down.

2. If done when seated, keep the back erect, lower the head to the trunk so that the chin rests in the notch between the collar-bones on the top of the breast-bone. This is Jalandhara Bandha. Keep the hands in Jnana Mundra (see p. 119, para 21).

3. Inhale for 2 seconds, pause for 2 seconds holding the breath, again inhale for 2 seconds, again pause for 2 seconds holding the breath, and continue like this until the lungs are completely full.

4. Now hold the breath for 5 to 10 seconds (antara kumbhaka) according to capacity.

5. Exhale slowly and deeply as in Ujjayi with an aspirate sound (huuuum).

6. This completes one cycle of the first stage of Viloma Pranayama.

7. Repeat 10 to 15 cycles of this first stage at a stretch.

STAGE II

8. Rest for a minute or two.

9. Then take a deep breath without any pauses as in Ujjayi with a sibilant sound (sssssssa), keeping the chin on the top of the breast-bone. Fill the lungs completely.

10. Hold the breath from 5 to 10 seconds (antara kumbhaka), keeping the Mula Bandha grip.

11. Exhale for 2 seconds and pause for 2 seconds. Again exhale for 2 seconds, pause for 2 seconds and continue like this until the lungs are completely emptied.

12. This completes one cycle of the second stage of Viloma Pranayama.

13. Repeat the second stage of Viloma 10 to 15 times at a stretch.

14. This completes Viloma Pranayama.

15. Then lie down in Savasana. (Plate 146)

EFFECTS

Viloma Pranayama in the first stage helps those suffering from low blood pressure. In the second stage it benefits persons suffering from high blood pressure.

The second stage of Viloma should only be done when lying down by persons suffering from high blood pressure.

Those suffering from heart complaints should not attempt it until they have mastered the Nadi Sodhana and Ujjayi Pranayamas.

As a wind drives smoke and impurities from the atmosphere, pranayama drives away the impurities of the body and the mind. Then, says Patanjali, the divine fire within blazes forth in its full glory and the mind becomes fit for concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana). (Yoga Sutras, chapter II, 52 and 53.) This takes a long time. By degrees is the darkness banished by the dawri.

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