Pranayama: A 7step practical guide

All the methods of pranayama are described in the classic scriptural texts and each pranayama has its own importance. However, a practitioner will find it hard to practice all the seven types of pranayama on a daily basis. Therefore we have formulated a sequence and time for all the seven pranayamas with our experience and divine blessings of God and teachers.

This revised process takes around 20 minutes and a practitioner reaps the following benefits with regular practice:

1. Overcomes Vata, Pitta and Kapha problems.

2. Maintains the functioning of the digestive system and cures all the stomach diseases.

3. Relieves the diseases related to the heart, lungs, and brain.

4. It is beneficial in cases of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, constipation, gastric trouble, acidity, respiratory problems, allergy, migraine, high blood pressure, kidney diseases, sexual diseases in men and women and even fatal diseases like cancer.

5. It can prevent hereditary diseases like diabetes and heart problems.

6. It prevents aging and is beneficial in controlling hair loss, premature graying of hair, wrinkled skin, poor eyesight, forgetfulness, etc.

7. The seven-step pranayama process gives a natural glow and shine on the face.

8. It purifies the chakras and arouses their strength, thereby providing spiritual strength and arousal of kundalini.

9. It keeps the mind calm, peaceful and cheerful and overcomes depression.

10. It is helpful in contemplation and also gives the strength to meditate for several hours.

11. It relieves all the physical and mental problems along with negative conditions like anger, lust, greed, attachment, and ego.

12. It cures all physical problems, removes foreign particles from the body, etc.

13. Negative conditions are replaced with positive ones and the practitioner remains happy and cheerful.

 

 

1.Bhastrika Pranayama

Sit in any meditative posture and breath in deeply with both the nostrils and breath out with full force. This is known as Bhastrika pranayama. This can be done in three ways depending on the capacity, slow, medium or fast. People with weak heart and lungs should do it slowly. A healthy person and old practitioners (experts) should increase the pace gradually. This pranayama should be done for three to five minutes.

Resolution at the time of doing Bhastrika Pranayama:

Breathe in deeply and think in the mind that the divine strength, energy, purity, peace, and happiness present in the universe are entering into my mind along with the vital life energy. I am filled with divine strengths.

Special Points for Practicing Bhastrika Pranayama:

1. Patients with high blood pressure and heart disease should not practice this pranayama at a fast pace.

2. Do not fill the air into the stomach and do not expand it. Breath into the diaphragm, the stomach will not expand but the ribs and chest will expand.

3. Practice it for less duration during summers.

4. In case of Kapha and sinusitis, people suffer from nose blockage. Such people should close the right nostril and breathe in through left nostril and then repeat it on the other side. Then they should breathe in and out from both the nostrils.

5. This pranayama should be done up to five minutes regularly.

6. Keep the eyes closed and chant Aum mentally with every breath.

Benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama:

1. It overcomes cold-catarrh, allergy, respiratory diseases, asthma, chronic cold, sinusitis and other Kapha related problems. It strengthens the lungs, heart, and brain and gives pure oxygen.

2. It cures thyroid problems, tonsil problems, and other throat problems.

3. It maintains the equilibrium of all the three doshas and evacuates toxic and foreign substances from the body.

4. It stabilizes the mind and prana and is helpful in the arousal of kundalini.

 

 

2.Kapalbhati Pranayama

Kapal means brain and bhati means glow, shine, brightness, light, etc. The pranayama which gives a natural glow, brightness, and shine to the face is known as Kapalbhati. It is slightly different from the previous one. In case of Bhastrika, breathing in and out is done with equal force and pace, but in this case, the breathing out is done with full force and breathing in is done automatically as a reaction to throwing out the air. Breathing out process is done with full concentration. This contracts and expands the stomach and strengthens Muladhara, Swadishthana and Manipur chakras. This should be done for at least five minutes.

Resolution at the Time of Doing Kapalbhati Pranayama:

At the time of practicing this pranayama, the practitioner should think that he is throwing out all the problems of the body. Along with the breath, the problems are getting relieved. The person should throw out the air with this feeling whatever it might be, doshas, anger, lust, greed, hatred, jealousy, etc. Think that diseases are getting relieved while breathing out to reap the full benefit.

Time for Practicing Kapalbhati Pranayama:

It should be done for three to five minutes. Take rest in between whenever you feel tired in the beginning. After one or two months, practice it for five minutes without stopping. This is the complete duration. Initially, the person could suffer from stomach or a backache but it will get relieved gradually. The people with pitta nature should do it for two minutes in summers.

Benefits of Practicing Kapalbhati Pranayama:

1. It increases glow, brightness and shine on the face.

2. Overcomes all Kapha related diseases like asthma, allergy, sinusitis, etc.

3. It is beneficial in case of heart, lung or cerebral problems.

4. It reduces weight, diabetes, gastric trouble, acidity, kidney and prostate problems.

5. Constipation is also cured with five minutes of regular practice. Diabetes is controlled without medicine and it also reduces excess fat from the stomach by four to eight kilos within one month. It opens blockages of the heart.

6. The mind becomes stable, calm and cheerful. It removes negative conditions and depression, etc.

7. It purifies the chakras and circulates a divine energy.

8. This pranayama is beneficial for the health of the stomach, pancreas, liver, spleen, intestines, prostate and kidney. This pranayama is sufficient to cure almost all the stomach problems, which even asanas cannot do. It also strengthens weak intestines.

 

 

3.Bahya Pranayama (with Tribandha)

1. Sit in padmasana or siddhasana and breathe out completely at one time.

2. Do moola bandha, uddiyana bandha, and jalandhara bandha and stop the breath (externally).

3. Remove the bandhas and breath in slowly.

4. Inhale and without stopping inside, breathe out and repeat the process as mentioned in the previous steps. This can be done three to 21 times depending on the capacity.

Resolution at the time of doing Bahya Pranayama:

Think mentally that all the diseases, doshas, negative energies are going out from the body as you throw out the air. Strong resolution at the time of doing this pranayama relieves all problems and gives instant results.

Benefits of Practicing Bahya Pranayama:

This is a harmless pranayama and overcomes playfulness of the mind. It increases digestive fire and is beneficial in case of stomach problems. It makes the mind sharp and bright. It purifies the body, overcomes seminal problems, night pollution, early ejaculation and other humour related diseases. This pranayama has special strength on all the stomach organs and initially, the practitioner could feel some pain in stomach or weakness. Therefore it should be done with all the bandhas.

 

 

4.Anulom-Vilom Pranayama

Method of closing the nostrils: Close the right nostril with the thumb and (alternately) the left nostril with the little finger and ring finger. The hand should be raised slightly above (it should not be in front of the nose).

The left nostril denotes the moon, strength or calm, therefore this pranayama begins with left nostril. Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril. After inhaling close the left nostril with ring finger and little finger and exhale through the right nostril. The pace of inhaling and exhaling should be increased gradually. Breathe in and out with full force and maintain the pace of respiration either slow, medium or fast depending on the physical strength. The fast pace of inhaling and exhaling creates loud sound in breathing. After breathing out completely, close the left nostril and breath in from right nostril. Then close the right nostril and breathe in from left nostril. This is one cycle. Repeat it several times. In case of slight tiredness, take rest in between and repeat. Begin the practice from three minutes and increase it up to ten minutes. Regular practice for a few days increases the capacity of the person and the practitioner can do it for five minutes without stopping. Everybody practice it for at least five minutes and maximum ten minutes but not more. During summers it should be done for three to five minutes. Regular practice for five minutes arouses the energy accumulated in Muladhara chakra and helps in arousal of kundalini. Chant Aum mentally with every breath. This makes the mind suitable for attaining the stage of contemplation.

Resolution at the Time of Doing Anulom-Vilom Pranayama:

Think that Sushumna nadi is getting aroused with the friction of right and left nostrils. Imagine that a divine light is moving upwards till Sahasrara chakra.

Think that the whole body is enlightened with a divine light. Imagine the presence of divine light inside and outside the body and visualize Aum Kham Brahma.

Think that the divine energy, strength, and knowledge are present on all the four sides of the body, that almighty God is filling celestial energy in the body, take in the energy. Guru is the only source of inspiration for getting this energy and guru combines with heavenly feelings. Anulom-Vilom pranayama done in this manner gives physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Mooladhara chakra arouses a light and arouses kundalini, the divine knowledge will flow upwards and gain tremendous energy.

Benefits of Practicing Anulom-Vilom Pranayama:

1. This pranayama purifies 72 crore 72 lakh ten thousand two hundred and ten nerves. Purification of all the nerves makes the body strong, bright and healthy.

2. It cures joint pain, arthritis, gout, Parkinson’s disease, nervous weakness, Vata diseases, urinary problems, humour related diseases, seminal loss, acidity, Pitta, cold, catarrh, chronic cold, sinusitis, asthma, cough, tonsils and other Kapha diseases. It cures tri-doshas.

3. It opens heart blockages. Regular practice of this pranayama opens around 30 to 40 percent blockage within three to four months. We have experienced it practically on several patients.

4. It overcomes the irregularities of cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL or LDL, etc.

5. It replaces negative thoughts with positive thoughts. It helps in keeping the mind happy, fearless and enthusiastic.

6. In a nutshell, pranayama purifies the mind, body, and virtues. It cures all the ailments and the mind becomes capable of contemplation.

7. Repeat this pranayama 250 to 500 times, the energy present in the Muladhara chakra moves upwards and helps in the arousal of kundalini.
Note: See the cautions and methods of arousal of kundalini for further information in this regard.

 

 

5.Brahmari Pranayama

Inhale completely, press the base of the nostrils with the little fingers, close the ears with your thumbs, keep the index fingers on the forehead, close the eyes and place the ring and middle fingers on the closed eyes. Chant Aum with the mouth closed (only the humming sound) and exhale. The sound resembles the sound of a honeybee, hence the name brahmari pranayama. Repeat it at least three times and maximum up to 21 times.

Resolution at the Time of Doing Brahmari Pranayama:

Imagine the synchronization of celestial power with divine strength. The practitioner should think that God is showering his empathy, love, and happiness on him. He or she should visualize a divine light in the agya chakra and removing all the ignorance present in the mind. The practitioner should feel that he or she is getting eternal wisdom. Pranayama done with such pure thoughts helps in reaching contemplation.

Benefits of Practicing Brahmari Pranayama:

It overcomes playfulness of the mind and is very beneficial for meditation. It is beneficial in cases of mental stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.

 

 

6.Aumkara (Udgeet Pranayama)

All the above-mentioned pranayamas should be followed by udgeet pranayama. Our eyebrows resemble the shape of Aum. The body and the entire universe are full of Aum. It is not an individual or a shape; it is a divine strength, which is circulating in the whole universe. As a knower, the practitioner should inhale and exhale so slowly that he or she should not feel the sound of respiration. The breathing should be so gentle that even a piece of cotton kept in front of the nose should not move. Try to feel the respiration from within. In the beginning, you will feel it only at the tip of the nose but gradually you will experience it deep within. In this way chanting Aum for some time helps in contemplation of mind. The practitioner will be able to concentrate the mind and get engrossed in Aumkar. Gayatri mantra should also be chanted after understanding its meaning along with Aumkar. This will help the person in getting engrossed in the true form of God, which gives happiness. This should be practiced at bedtime also in order to enjoy sound sleep. It overcomes bad dreams and gives sound sleep.

 

 

7. Nadi Shodhana pranayama

In the beginning, close the right nostril and inhale through left nostril just like Anulom-Vilom pranayama. Stop the breath inside and do moola bandha and jalandhara bandha. Remove jalandhar bandha after some time and exhale very slowly through the right nostril. Then inhale from right nostril and do Kumbhaka, stop the breath inside and exhale very slowly from the left nostril. This is one complete cycle or nadi Shodhana pranayama.

It is very beneficial if done with full concentration without pressing the nostrils. It helps in concentrating the mind and gives a lot of stability. There should not be any sound at the time of inhaling and exhaling. It should be done from one to three times or more. In the beginning, the ratio of poorak, antah kumbhaka and rechaka should be 1:2:2. for example, poorak, antah kumbhaka and rechaka should be done for 10, 20 and 20 seconds respectively. Gradually, the ratio can be increased to 1:4:2. Bahya kumbhaka can be added later and then the ratio can be 1:4:2:2. This pranayama should be done at a very slow pace. Focus on pace of respiration and its intensity instead of number of repetitions. This is more beneficial, and inhaling, controlling and exhaling the breath is the actual result of this pranayama. There is no need to take rest in between. Chanting Aum or gayatri mantra mentally is favourable while doing this.

Benefits of Practicing Nadi Shodana Pranayama:

The advantages are similar to Anulom-Vilom pranayama.

 

 

 

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An intro to Kundalini Yoga

The word Kundalini is a familiar one to all students of Yoga, as it is well known as the power, in the form of a coiled serpent, residing in Muladhara Chakra, the first of the seven Chakras, the other six being Svadhishthana, Manipuraka, Anahata, Visuddha, Ajna and Sahasrara, in order.

All Sadhanas in the form of Japa, meditation, Kirtan and prayer as well as all development of virtues, and observance of austerities like truth, non-violence and continence are at best calculated only to awaken this serpent-power and make it to pass through all the succeeding Chakras beginning from Svadhishthana to Sahasrara, the latter otherwise called as the thousand-petalled lotus, the seat of Sadasiva or the Parabrahman or the Absolute separated from whom the Kundalini or the Shakti lies at the Muladhara, and to unite with whom the Kundalini passes through all the Chakras, as explained above, conferring liberation on the aspirant who assiduously practises Yoga or the technique of uniting her with her Lord and gets success also in his effort.

In worldly-minded people, given to enjoyment of sensual and sexual pleasures, this Kundalini power is sleeping because of the absence of any stimulus in the form of spiritual practices, as the power generated through such practices alone awakens that serpent-power, and not any other power derived through the possession of worldly riches and affluence. When the aspirant seriously practises all the disciplines as enjoined in the Shastras, and as instructed by the preceptor, in whom the Kundalini would have already been awakened and reached its abode or Sadasiva, acquiring which blessed achievement alone a person becomes entitled to act as a Guru or spiritual preceptor, guiding and helping others also to achieve the same end, the veils or layers enmeshing Kundalini begin to be cleared and finally are torn asunder and the serpent-power is pushed or driven, as it were upwards.

Supersensual visions appear before the mental eye of the aspirant, new worlds with indescribable wonders and charms unfold themselves before the Yogi, planes after planes reveal their existence and grandeur to the practitioner and the Yogi gets divine knowledge, power and bliss, in increasing degrees, when Kundalini passes through Chakra after Chakra, making them to bloom in all their glory which before the touch of Kundalini, do not give out their powers, emanating their divine light and fragrance and reveal the divine secrets and phenomena, which lie concealed from the eyes of worldly-minded people who would refuse to believe of their existence even.

When the Kundalini ascends one Chakra or Yogic centre, the Yogi also ascends one step or rung upward in the Yogic ladder; one more page, the next page, he reads in the divine book; the more the Kundalini travels upwards, the Yogi also advances towards the goal or spiritual perfection in relation to it. When the Kundalini reaches the sixth centre or the Ajna Chakra, the Yogi gets the vision of Personal God or Saguna Brahman, and when the serpent-power reaches the last, the top centre, or Sahasrara Chakra, or the Thousand-petalled lotus, the Yogi loses his individuality in the ocean of Sat-Chit-Ananda or the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute and becomes one with the Lord or Supreme Soul. He is no longer an ordinary man, not even a simple Yogi, but a fully illumined sage, having conquered the eternal and unlimited divine kingdom, a hero having won the battle against illusion, a Mukta or liberated one having crossed the ocean of ignorance or the transmigratory existence, and a superman having the authority and capacity to save the other struggling souls of the relative world. Scriptures hail him most, in the maximum possible glorifying way, and his achievement. Celestial beings envy him, not excluding the Trinity even, viz., Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.

Kundalini And Tantrik Sadhana

Kundalini Yoga actually belongs to Tantrik Sadhana, which gives a detailed description about this serpent-power and the Chakras, as mentioned above. Mother Divine, the active aspect of the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, resides in the body of men and women in the form of Kundalini, and the entire Tantrik Sadhana aims at awakening Her, and making Her to unite with the Lord, Sadasiva, in the Sahasrara, as described in the beginning in detail. Methods adopted to achieve this end in Tantrik Sadhana are Japa of the name of the Mother, prayer and various rituals.

Kundalini And Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga also builds up its philosophy around this Kundalini and the methods adopted in it are different from Tantrik Sadhana. Hatha Yoga seeks to awaken this Kundalini through the discipline of the physical body, purification of Nadis and controlling the Prana. Through a number of physical poses called Yoga Asanas it tones up the entire nervous system, and brings it under the conscious control of the Yogi, through Bandhas and Mudras it controls the Prana, regulates its movements and even blocks and seals it without allowing it to move, through Kriyas it purifies the inner organs of physical body and, finally, through Pranayama it brings the mind itself under the control of the Yogi. Kundalini is made to go upwards towards Sahasrara through these combined methods.

Kundalini And Raja Yoga

But Raja Yoga mentions nothing about this Kundalini, but propounds a still subtle, higher path, philosophical and rational, and asks the aspirant to control the mind, to withdraw all the senses and to plunge in meditation. Unlike Hatha Yoga which is mechanical and mystical, Raja Yoga teaches a technique with eight limbs, appealing to the heart and intellect of aspirants. It advocates moral and ethical development through its Yama and Niyama, helps the intellectual and cultural development through Svadhyaya or study of holy Scriptures, satisfies the emotional and devotional aspect of human nature by enjoining to surrender oneself to the will of the Creator, has an element of mysticism by including Pranayama also as one of the eight limbs and finally, prepares the aspirant for unbroken meditation on the Absolute through a penultimate step of concentration. Neither in philosophy nor in its prescription of methods of Raja Yoga mentions about Kundalini, but sets the human mind and Chitta as its targets to be destroyed as they alone make the individual soul to forget its real nature and brings on it birth and death and all the woes of phenomenal existence.

Kundalini And Vedanta

But when we come to Vedanta, there is no question about Kundalini or any type of mystical and mechanical methods. It is all enquiry and philosophical speculation. According to Vedanta the only thing to be destroyed is ignorance about one’s real nature, and this ignorance cannot be destroyed either by study, or by Pranayama, or by work, or by any amount of physical twisting and torturing, but only by knowing one’s real nature, which is Sat-Chit-Ananda or Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. Man is divine, free and one with the Supreme Spirit always, which he forgets and identifies himself with matter, which itself is an illusory appearance and a superimposition on the spirit. Liberation is freedom from ignorance and the aspirant is advised to constantly dissociate himself from all limitations and identify himself with the all-pervading, non-dual, blissful, peaceful, homogeneous spirit or Brahman. When meditation becomes intensified, in the ocean of Existence or rather the individuality is blotted or blown out completely. Just as a drop of water let on a frying pan is immediately sucked and vanishes from cognition, the individual consciousness is sucked in by the Universal Consciousness and is absorbed in it. According to Vedanta there cannot be real liberation in a state of multiplicity, and the state of complete Oneness is the goal to be aspired for, towards which alone the entire creation is slowly moving on.

 

 

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