Pranayama Practice

It pranayama is practised regularly and for a reasonable duration everyday, then it can awaken the kundalini power. This is clearly indicated in the traditional hatha yoga texts: "Those who have mastery over their breathing process, awaken the fire of the kundalini so that it enters the sushumna without hindrance." Hatha Yoga Pradipika 4:19)

.As one advances in the practice of prana-vama. precautions have to be taken. One must ensure that the body is purified. Pranayama itself will do this, but the shatkarmas, such as shankhaprakshalana, neti, etc. are perfectly suited for removing gross impurities. The importance of physical purity is indicated in the scriptures: "When the entire nervous system is purified of all impurities, then the yogi is able to hold his breath for long periods of time." (Yoga Chudamani Upanishad v. 94) One should also make the body strong by regular practice of asanas.

Another important point, essential in fact, is that one must eat pure and vegetarian food. Failure to do this could easily lead to harm and disease. So if you are practising a lot of pranayama, then it is vital that you adopt a simple, balanced and pure diet.

Another point to remember is that serious pranayama should not be practised when you are ill. By serious we mean for durations of longer than twenty minutes and with extended breath retentions of more than thirty seconds. Therefore, take steps to find good health before undertaking serious pranayama sadhana.

We suggest that all those who are practising a lot of pranayama should do so under the guidance of a competent teacher. Pranayama is a very powerful technique if it is done correctly; if done incorrectly, then it will cause you harm. If you master pranayama then you will become master of your mind. "Mind is the master of the senses and the breath is the master of the mind". (Hatha Yoga Pradipika

4:29) Pranayama itself can lead you to awareness of the depths of the mind and beyond, but please don't overdo the practice. You must practise for a few years in order to slowly accustom the physical and pranic body to new functional conditions. This point should be clearly understood and remembered.

NADI SHODHANA - STAGE 4 WITH MAHA BANDHA

Since Lesson 22 we have suggested that you combine nadi shodhana pranayama with maha bandha1. This is an advanced technique, therefore you should continue to practise it, steadily increasing the duration of breath retention, but don't strain.

Those people who have not practised prana-yama before should proceed through the practices that we have described since Lesson 3, taking as much time as they wish to do for each stage2. Those who have already reached an intermediate stage should also proceed at their own pace.

Nadi shodhana pranayama combined with maha bandha is as far as we intend to go in this sadhana course. In Book III we will introduce other types of pranayama.

Notes

1 Book II, Lesson 22, Topic 4

2 Book I, Lesson 3, Topic 4

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