thinks that standing on the head, executing exotic poses, or
doing intensive sadhana off riverbanks in bone-chilling cold,
are indications of advancement in yoga practice.
I know as a
matter of personal experience that only a sustained practice
which includes regular pranayama may indicate any progress in
practice. An advanced practitioner also may not need the energy
of a class or a group to sustain daily practice of pranayama,
which can be very difficult to practice on your own since its
entertainment quotient is low.
While asanas guarantee health, including removal of toxic
overload from daily living, pranayama is the soul of yoga
sadhana. Poised between asana practice and meditation, it
prepares the body-mind complex for dhyana. That is why most
schools will insist that you do pranayama in a calm state of
In a practice like nadi shodhana, you may actually watch the
fluctuations of the mind, which is what meditation is all about
though many of us like to think of the latter as an
explosive experience of seeing visions or lights, etc. Seeing
lights and visions is all very entertaining, but seeing ones
mind can be embarrassing and unsettling! In fact, the sage
Ramana Maharishi makes a pertinent observation that explains
this distinction clearly. In meditation, there are two types of
experiences. One of mano-laya, which is the absorption of the
mind where the mind is in a state of trance, lulled into believing
that it is calm. In manonasha, the mind is destroyed.
Pranayama is like the prosaic part of a relationship,
which involves getting up in the morning and making coffee for
your partner, while the asanas represent the infatuation part of
your relationship. While high emotional drama may be good for a
relationship, it is the prosaic acts of simple caring that
declare and carry forward our love.
pranayama (victory breath)
Sit in any meditative practice
Shut eyes, hands in any mudra or hand gesture of your choice
Inhale gently, from the throat. The sound must be gentle, like light
snoring of a baby, without any strain
Exhale in similar fashion. This is one round. Do nine rounds
regular practice, you may inhale deep and long and exhale to
double the length of your inhalation. This comes only with
guidance and regular practice.
How it works
soft pressure at the throat works the vagus nerve, the powerful
parasympathetic nerve that wanders over most of the body. This
influences the entire body, shifting it into a rejuvenating,
repairing mode. The parasympathetic system is switched on when
the body gets into a relaxed state, and helps bring emotional
and mental equilibrium back to the body.