Showing posts with label Yogic breathing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yogic breathing. Show all posts

Kundalini Meditation Pranayama Exercises - Advanced Practice

Advanced pranayama methods are discussed here. Once the nadis have been cleansed, the doshas (humours) have been balanced and expelled, and the internal and exterior kumbhakas have been perfected, they may be used. 

The kumbhakas have grown very long at this time, and they are used to perform sophisticated yogic meditation methods combining chakra visualization and mantra. 

Not to attempt a comprehensive explanation of these advanced pranayamas in mere words, a short summary is provided instead as an indication of the direction in which pranayama will evolve if practiced for a long period:

1. Shakti Chalana

2. Bhutashuddhi Kumbhaka

3. Kevala Kumbhaka 

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Kundalini Meditation Pranayama - Kevala Kumbhaka - Advanced Version

The word Kevala is linked to Patanjali's phrase for freedom, Kaivalya. Kevala is now a word that may mean both "freedom" or "independence." 

It is a self-contained kumbhaka that is devoid of volution and structure on the one hand and inhalation and expiration on the other. 

Kevala Kumbhaka, according to popular belief, occurs after all previous pranayama methods have been learned. Chaturtah is Patanjali's name for the fourth pranayama.  

  • It occurs, according to him, when internal, external, and halfway suspension have been mastered. 
  • However, Patanjali's term chaturtah also connects the kumbhaka to turiya, the fourth stage mentioned in the Mandukya Upanishad. 
  • The states include waking, dreaming, profound sleep, and awareness. 
  • The only state that is permanent is the fourth. It's the condition that's present in all of them. 

Some yoga schools believe that Kevala Kumbhaka is present only when pure awareness is achieved, while others believe that this kumbhaka is present only when pure consciousness is attained. 

In any event, the two are inextricably connected. 

The Kevala Kumbhaka is also known as the genuine kumbhaka or the spontaneous kumbhaka. 

  • It may happen naturally when a practitioner reaches samadhi, and it is true in the sense that no conscious effort is needed. 

When the yogi is ready, he or she enters it. He or she is moving beyond breath, beyond breathing, according to Kevala Kumbhaka. 

  • It does not imply that the yogi willfully ceases breathing, but rather that the breath will stop on its own. 

Kevala Kumbhaka is defined by the Gheranda Samhita as the confinement of prana to the body, implying that it is stopped and fixed. 

  • As a result, it is unable to exit the body, which would result in death.  Kevala Kumbhaka, according to the Hatha Tatva Kaumudi, is the condition in which prana is equally dispersed throughout the body. 

In his Yoga Taravali, the great Shankaracharya connects Kevala Kumbhaka to mastery of the three bandhas as well as focus on the Anahata (heart) Chakra.  

  • He goes on to say that this breathless condition, in which there is no need to inhale or exhale, is the most essential of the pranayamas, and that prana is pulled from Ida and Pingala into the central nadi via Kevala Kumbhaka (sushumna ).  
  • As a result, this kumbhaka wakes the sleeping serpent Kundalini, resulting in easy dharana and dhyana success.  
  • This final line is especially significant because it shows that rising Kundalini is not only a component of Patanjali yoga, but it is also necessary and essential to succeeding in and mastering Patanjali's Ashtanga (eight-limbed) Yoga
  • Instead of Kevala Kumbhaka, the Kumbhaka Paddhati of Raghuvira adopts the term Meru Kumbhaka.  Raghuvira seems to be the only source to define Kevala Kumbhaka in a quantitative manner, i.e. he evaluates its achievement by its length, by teaching that it is achieved in  steps. 
  • This is in contrast to Patanjali and Shankara, who only provide qualitative definitions for yoga limbs. 


Kevala Kumbhaka may be reached in a variety of ways. It may be accessed as a result of samadhi in the following ways: 

  • ln.Jnana Yoga, one attains it by fully identifying with the formless Absolute and renouncing all identification with the body, mind, ego, and the world (nirgunabrahman). 
  • This is the route that is considered the most challenging. Complete devotion to the ishtadevata (personal god) as a manifestation of the Absolute with form is how the Bhakta accomplishes it (saguna brahman). 
  • Raising the Kundalini via focus, as stated in Bhutashuddhi Pranayama and Nadanusandhana, is one of the methods used by Laya Yoga . (listening to inner sound). 
  • The Bhramari, Shambhavi, Khechari, and Yoni mudras are all utilized in Hatha Yoga.  
  • There are two main paths to Kevala Kumbhaka within the pranayama method. 
    • The first is to gradually increase the breath count in slow-breathing pranayamas like Nadi Shodhana, Surya, and Chandra bhedana. 
      • The practitioner slows down the essential processes to the point that the breath seems to stop after a lengthy period of practice, assisted by mastery of the bandhas. 
    • The second path employs the Kapalabhati and Bhastrika rapid-breathing techniques. 
      • They feed the brain with oxygen and deplete carbon dioxide to the point where the respiratory center turns off and does not demand the next breath if exercised long enough. 
  • All of the aforementioned techniques should be used in conjunction with bandhas and internal and exterior kumbhakas. 
  • A competent instructor must adapt such a practice to the requirements of the person, taking into consideration a variety of variables such as season.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Kundalini Meditation Pranayama - Bhutashuddhi Kumbhaka - Advanced Version

Bhutashuddhi Kumbhaka is defined by the Hatha Tatva Kaumudi of Sundaradeva as the contemplation of the six chakras in order in the same body (kumbhaka). 

  • This is a highly thorough and meticulous method. 
  • Bhutashuddhi kumbhaka may be used as a meditation or a breathing technique. 
  • The meditation method may also be employed as a warm-up for the more challenging job of doing it during kumbhaka. 

Bhutashuddhi Kumbhaka is stated in Yoga Rahasya, which was passed down via T. Krishnamacharya, and I learned it through this teacher's pupil, B.N.S. Iyengar. 

The latter, on the other hand, referred to it as Shakti Chalana Pranayama (Kundalinirousingpranayama). 

Bhutashuddhi Kumbhaka is essentially a sophisticated form of Shakti Chalana. Yogeshwaranand Paramahamsa also taught Bhutashuddhi Kumbhaka, which he termed Chakra Bhedana, or chakra piercing. 

Sir John Woodroffe's The Serpent Power has a good explanation of Bhutashuddhi. 

In Raghuvira's Kumbhaka Paddhati and Sundarad eva's Hatha Tatva Kaumudi, the consequences of practicing kumbhakas on different chakras are mentioned. 

S.S. Goswami taught a modified form of Bhutashuddhi Pranayama that does not include kumbhaka and is thus referred to as Bhutashuddhi Pranayama. 

This method incorporates all of the essential elements of yogic meditation. 


  • During kumbhaka, one visualizes the Muladhara Chakra with its four petals, dark red in color, associated earth element, yantra, sense of smell, and bija mantra Lam in its (coccygeal) position. 
  • All qualities are absorbed into the bija Lam, and the prana is raised to the position of the Svadhishthana Chakra (via focus and visualization). 
  • The Svadhishthana Chakra is seen here with its six orange-red petals, as well as its associated water element, sense of taste, and bija mantra Vam. 
  • The mantra absorbs all of the chakra's characteristics and elevates the prana to the Manipura Chakra's (lumbar) position (via focus and visualization).
  •  The 10 petals of the chakra, the blackish blue color of the storm cloud, the associated fire element, sense of form (i.e. visual), and the bija mantra Ram are all visualized here. 
  • All of the chakra's characteristics are absorbed into the mantra, and the prana is raised to the Anahata Chakra's (thoracic) position (via focus and visualization). 
  • The chakra with its twelve petals, the brilliant red color of the Manduka flower, the associated air element, tactile sense, and bija mantra yam are all visualized here.
  • The mantra absorbs all of the chakra's characteristics and elevates the prana to the Vishuddha Chakra's (cervical) position (via focus and imagination). 
  • The chakra, with its sixteen petals, smoky-purplish color, related ether element, sense of sound, and bija mantra Ham, is seen here. 
  • The mantra absorbs all of the chakra's characteristics and elevates the prana to the Ajna Chakra's (cranial) position (via focus and visualization). 
  • The Ajna Chakra, with its two brilliant white petals, associated void element, and bija mantra OM. 
  • The prana may be elevated from here to the Sahasrara Chakra, which is located at the crown of the head and contains a thousand petals of various colors. 
  • This chakra is more than just an element, a sensation, or a mantra. 
  • One by one, the different layers mentioned in this method are overlaid upon one another. 

Kumbhaka must be prolonged each time the yogi adds another layer to suit the technique's growing intricacy. 

  • The mind gets clearer and more brilliant as kumbhaka becomes longer. 
  • Prana gets steadier and kumbhaka may be prolonged as the mind becomes clearer and more brilliant. 
  • As kumbhaka is expanded again, the ability to focus and flow prana improves. 

As a result, the mind ultimately develops the ability to raise the prana to the top of the head in lengthy kumbhakas, which is known as Kundalini-raising (Shakti Chalana). 

Theos Bernard, renowned for his amazing physical exploits like as doing headstands for three hours and kumbhakas for almost an hour, referred to the same technique. 

He explained how he used focus to guide Kundalini through the different chakras until it was absorbed into awareness with each breath retention. 

The Hatha Tatva Kaumudi, confirms this by stating that during kumbhaka, the yogi must concentrate on Kundalini and move her up through the chakras one by one.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Kundalini Meditation Pranayama - Shakti Chalana - Advanced Version

buddhist monk in meditation  pose with colorful Chakras buddhist monk in meditation  pose with colorful Chakras over black background kundalini stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Pranayama is not the name of a specific pranayama method, but rather a catch-all word for all yogic practices that include pranayama and are mainly intended to raise Kundalini. 

  • Shakti, prana, and Kundalini are frequently used interchangeably. 
  • When the life force circulates, it is called prana; when it descends by an act of divine grace, it is called Shakti; and it is named Kundalini when it rises to fulfill our divine destiny through the effort of the person. 
  • The goal of asana is to prepare the body for pranayama by making it healthy and stable. 
  • The nadis are cleansed and karma is removed via pranayama. 

Then, using a combination of mantra, pranayama, kriya, visualization, bandha, and mudra, prana is driven into the core energy channel (sushumna), energy obstructions (granthis) are pierced, and prana is raised to the Ajna (third eye) Chakra. Dharana, dhyana, and samadhi are experienced practically spontaneously and easily after it is installed, while the process is laborious without it. 

According to the Hatha Tatva Kaumudi, the Divine vision may only be received when Shakti Chalana has taken place, hence its significance. 

Various yogic schools have their own unique Shakti Chalana formula, but Sundaradeva's Kaumudi is a true encyclopedia of its many variations. 


• Practicing Utkarsha Pranayama with all five bandhas (Mula, Uddiyana, ]alandhara, ]ihva, and Maha bandha) and Maha Mudra is an example of Shakti Chalana. 

• Surya Bhedana for 90 minutes in the morning and evening, then turning apana up, i.e. the way of fire and air. 

• Sitting in Siddhasana and then doing Bhastrika while blocking the Muladhara Chakra with the left heel. 

• External kumbhaka, as well as bandha, mudra, and Utkarsha Pranayama, are used to close the nine gates (i.e. Siddhasana + Yoni Mudra). 

• Engaging Mula Bandha and contracting Surya (right nostril); Uddiyana Bandha then pushes Kundalini up via kumbhaka. 

• Sitting in Siddhasana, shutting the nine gates (Siddhasana + Yoni Mudra), inhaling via the crow beak mudra, doing kumbhaka, and generating fire and apana while listening to the inner voice. 

This is only a tiny sampling of the methods available. The idea is that they usually include kumbhaka, bandhas, mudras, and chakras, as well as prana manipulations, or any mix of these.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Pranayama - Kundalini Ascension And Vayus

After meditation and health/life extension, the function of the apana vayu as a motor for Kundalini-rousing is the third major area where the vayus are discussed. 

  • The main vayus, with the exception of apana, either travel upwards (prana vayu, udana vayu) or are directionless (samana and vyana vayus). 
  • The apana vayu, with its powerful downward flow, is primarily responsible for life force depletion and keeping us bound to our animal nature. 
  • Apana has a significant effect on vocabulary, resulting in an overuse of faeces and sexual phrases. 
  • If we turn up our apana, we may leave our animalistic side behind and embrace the Divine, according to yoga. 

The mixing of prana and apana in kumbhaka at the Manipura Chakra causes the Kundalini to rise. 

In ancient writings, this is a common topic. By using Mula Bandha in Siddhasana, Sage Yajnavalkya taught to his wife, Gargi, how to send apana on an upward trajectory. 

  • The fire must be fanned after it reaches the Manipura Chakra (the fire chakra) by pulling prana vayu down. 
  • The snake Kundalini's tail will be bummed by the fire, and the serpent will ascend through the chakras, propelled by the twin forces of apana vayu and fire. Kundalini is said to be awakened by apana with fire and moves up like a snake, according to Sage Vasishta. 
  • Raghuvira goes into more depth in his Kumbhaka Paddhati/4, which is dedicated exclusively on pranayama. 

Mastery of apana (apana jaya), he claims, would lead to mastery of mula bandha (root lock), mudras (energy seals), dharana (concentration), agni (fire), Kundalini rising, and an increase in sattva guna (intelligence). 

Here are a few explanations: 

  • Apana (vital down current) and mula bandha (root lock) are almost interchangeable. 
  • The mastery of one will lead to mastery of the other. 
  • The stoking of agni will follow mastery of apana (fire). 
  • Toxins will be absorbed by a powerful agni, which will improve health. Kundalini is roused by a powerful agni and a tilted apana. 

When a diligent practitioner raises Kundalini, the yogi will be able to practice dharana (concentration) and then the other higher limbs. 

It's important to note that in more contemporary texts (i.e. those from the Kali Yuga), the word Kundalini refers to what Patanjali meant by dharana. 

  • Humanity was more intellectually and philosophically oriented during Patanjali's era (Dvapara Yuga). 
  • Patanjali's concept of dharana, which was generally recognized at the time, was the capacity to tie the mind to one location for three hours. 
  • People in our present era, the Kali Yuga, are much more physically oriented, therefore yogis searched for a physical meaning of the word dharana. 
  • Dharana, or tying the mind to a sattvic (holy) meditation object for three hours, was only feasible when the prana was elevated to the upper chakras, according to yogis. 
  • If prana is restricted to the lower chakras, one will express themselves in terms of survival (Muladhara Chakra), sexual identity (Svadhishthana Chakra), or absorption of money, food, and things (Svadhishthana Chakra) (Manipura Chakra). 

Kundalini is the term given to Prana as it rises. 

  • The Kali Yuga's physically oriented yogis sought for methods to elevate Kundalini in order to strengthen dharana. 
  • The route of air and the path of fire, or the usage of both at the same time, are two of the most common methods to raise Kundalini. 
  • 'Path of fire' refers to cleansing and stoking agni (fire). 
  • The term "path of air" refers to raising the apana vayu and utilizing it as a motor to raise Kundalini.
  • Remember that apana is the only vayu current that firmly points down. 
  • If it is turned upwards, all of the vayus will suck up Kundalini like a big vacuum cleaner, and this is what the route of air refers to. 
  • According to the Yoga Kundalini Upanishad, Mula bandha is used to elevate apana, which usually flows downward. 
  • According to the Upanishad, apana ascending up will mingle with agni, and the two will rise together to the Manipura Chakra. 
  • They will join with prana vayu (vital up stream) here, and Kundalini will ascend up via the sushumna, sucked up by the vayus and lit by agni (notice that the English term ignite is derived from the Sanskrit agni = fire). 

In a nutshell, this is how the more contemporary yoga shastras explain how to attain dharana (scriptures). 

However, it just repackages old ideas in a more contemporary language. 

The word sushumna, which refers to the core energy conduit and the route for Kundalini ascension, was first used in the Chandogya Upanishad/9, which predates the Yoga Sutras by centuries. 

I've gone into great length to demonstrate that there isn't a yoga of the Vedic seers, a yoga of the ancient Upanishads, a classical yoga of Patanjali, and a more contemporary yoga of the Hatha Yoga, as some Western academics claim. 

This isn't the case at all. There has been a continuous, consistent history of sages and siddhas who have experienced the same mystical experience for thousands of years. 

What changed was the audience's ability to comprehend the lessons. 

As a result, the same mystical experience was clothed in various languages and modified using diverse techniques to reach an audience whose makeup had changed throughout the millennia.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Pranayama - Vayus To Extend One's Life Expectancy

The study and eventual mastery of apana and prana motions has other significant ramifications. 

  • According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the yogi's physique is transformed into that of a 16-year-old by drawing the apana vayu up and pushing the prana vayu down.
  • As prana vayu is pushed out of the body in an upward trajectory and apana vayu is directed downwards, both vayus ultimately lead to a depletion of life energy. 
  • Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha may be used to drive apana vayu upwards, whereas Jalandhara Bandha and Jihva Bandha can be used to send prana vayu downwards. 

According to the Vedas, the vayus meet in the Manipura Chakra, where they are transformed into samana vayu and absorbed into the body's solar pranic storage by turning them around. 

  • This kind of prana absorption into the Manipura Chakra is believed to be accountable for yogic feats like being buried for days or weeks and yet being alive when dug up. 
  • Pilot Baba, for example, has shown that yogis can survive without oxygen for an extended period of time. This is not a new concept: it is stated in the Brhad Aranyaka, the most ancient Upanishad, that whomever grows samana vayu is beyond death. 

Take note of the yogic tradition's continuity throughout thousands of years. 

  • Apart from absorbing prana, apana, and samana vayus into the solar pranic storehouse, it is beneficial to slow down breath and pulse to the point where they are virtually undetectable. 
  • T. Krishnamacharya and others have shown this capacity. 
  • Slowing the pulse lowers the heart's oxygen consumption and increases the amount of time spent in kumbhaka. 
  • Slowing down one's breathing also extends one's life expectancy.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Pranayama - Vayus And Meditation

Inhalation and intake are linked with Prana vayu, while exhalation and excretion are associated with apana vayu. 

  • Urination, defecation, menstruation, ejaculation, and the delivery of the foetus during childbirth are all aided by Apana. 
  • As a result, it is a downward motion, while prana is an upward motion. 
  • Consider the rise of the chest during inhalation (prana) and the fall of the thorax during expiration (exhalation) (apana). 
  • However, astute meditators will have observed, the inhalation begins at the nose and ends at the perineum, despite the fact that it raises the chest. 
  • Following the exhale with mindfulness will take you from the pelvic floor to the nose, where the breath exits the body. 
  • As a result, there is both an upward and downward movement during inhalation and exhale. 

According to Shrikrishna, a member of Kaivalyadhama and a pranayama researcher, the subtle flow of prana is the inverse of the gross breath.

  • He says that there is a downward flow upon inhaling (called apana gati). 
  • Similarly, there is an energetic upward movement during gross exhalation (called prana gati). 
  • To make things more complicated, he points out that the terms prana and apana are simply equated with breath in certain yogic literature and with subtle energy flow in others (gati). 
  • This is why prana is characterized as a downward flow in certain scriptures and as an upward movement in others. 

One of the most effective secrets of meditation is to experience and harness them both at the same time, when they cross over. 

  • To do so, notice how your gross breath fills your body from the perineum to the neck, while the subtle energy fills your torso from the nose down to the pelvic floor when you inhale. 
  • This implies that your awareness must extend both up and down at the same time. 
  • Then notice how, as you exhale, the top lobes of your lungs empty first, then the chest lowers, and ultimately the belly contracts, all while the delicate energy flow travels from the perineum upwards to the brain. 

One of the most effective methods of quieting the mind is to maintain experiencing this dual movement.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Pranayama - VAYUS Vs. PRANA?

Some earlier writings, such as the Taittiriya Upanishad, use the word vayu instead of prana to refer to life energy. 

However, in recent yogic literature, the word vayu has come to mean a division of the life force, prana, into ten essential airs, which we might call sub-pranas. 

Unfortunately, one of these sub-pranas is referred to as prana, causing some misunderstanding

The life force is therefore referred to as prana, while the vital air prana is referred to as prana vayu. 

  • Five of the 10 vayus (vital airs) are regarded main (prana vayu, apana, samana, udana, vyana) and the other five secondary (apana, samana, udana, vyana) (naga, krkara, kurma, devadatta, dhananjaya).
  • Prana, apana, and samana are the ones we should be most concerned about. 
  • These vayus are significant in three areas for us: meditation, health/life extension, and Kundalini rising.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Pranayama - Prana Distributed Evenly.

The ultimate impact of pranayama is described by the Hatha Tatva Kaumudi. 

  • It states that the prana is equally distributed throughout the body in Kevala Kumbhaka. 
  • The apex of pranayama is Kevala Kumbhaka. 

It is believed to happen naturally after the other kinds of pranayama have been learned, and its absence should be regarded as a sign that the other willful and organized pranayama methods, collectively known as sahita kumbhakas, still need attention. 

In his Yoga Sutra, Patanjali calls Kevala Kumbhaka the fourth pranayama (chaturtha), which leads to samadhi naturally. 

  • In the samadhic condition, according to the Hatha Tatva Kaumudi, prana will not build in certain parts of the body while being drained in others, but will be distributed equally throughout the body. 
  • This is caused by a lack of mental stimulation. 
  • An unequal distribution of prana throughout the body is caused by the mind and training. 
  • In contrast, the mind (adhi) is described in Ayurvedic literature as the underlying cause of all illnesses ( vyadhi).  
  • In its natural condition, the mind not only inhibits samadhi, but also creates illnesses in the body, eventually leading to its demise.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Pranayama - Prana Drawn Into The Center

According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, any discussion of selfknowledge (jnana) in yogic circles other than those of the Advaita Vedantins is simply arrogant prattle if it is not accompanied with prana induction into the central nadi (sushumna). 

  • The mind, which is fueled by the two outside nadis, Ida and Pingala, is suspended by this nadi. 
  • When the mind is active, the prana is stored in these two solar and lunar nadis. 
  • The mind is suspended and prana is in sushumna when the yogi achieves the mystical condition. 
  • In his ]ogapradipyaka, Jayatarama states that the introduction of prana into sushumna is solely dependent on the practice of kumbhaka. 

We must remember that, in contrast to Western civilization, which has spent two millennia primarily focused on technology and how to dominate the outside world, Indians have evolved into virtual astronauts of the inner world, the so called inner cosmos reflecting the outer. 

  • This meant that in India, someone who could genuinely reach mystical states was held in the same regard as, say, Columbus, Leibniz, Newton, or Einstein in the West. 
  • There were, however, many who were not genuine craftsmen of prana, but blowers of hot air who participated in the above-mentioned arrogant prattle, in between those true inner astronauts who were authentic yoga practitioners and experienced such experiences. 
  • The wheat was separated from the chaff using Jayatarama's criteria. 

Only those who had mastered pranayama and therefore kumbhaka were allowed to speak about the upper limbs and their associated mystical experiences inside the yoga system.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Pranayama - Increasing And Storing Prana

Only a tiny portion of the prana that might be taken from the air via deep and regulated yogic breathing is actually retrieved with regular, shallow breathing, according to Acharya Bhagwan Dev in his book Pranayama, Kundalini, and Hatha Yoga. 

  • Kumbhaka significantly improves the real storage of prana in the body (breath retention). 
  • Kumbhaka is a technique for securing prana in the body. 
  • This remark further clarifies that pranayama is only accomplished via breath retention, implying that simple Ujjayi breathing is just pranayama in the abstract. 

The Hatha Tatva Kaumudi describes the consequences of retaining or fixing prana in different parts of the body. 

  • During kumbhaka, fixating is as simple as concentrating the attention on the necessary spot. 
  • Because prana follows the mind, conscious attention will naturally direct prana to that location.
  • Sundaradeva claims that keeping the prana at the navel cures all illnesses, that holding it at the tip of the nose gives one mastery over prana, and that holding it at the big toes gives one lightness. 
  • During the exhale phase, prana is primarily distributed to different parts of the body. 
  • While the retention phase is utilized to absorb prana in the Manipura Chakra, it is the exhale that transports prana from the navel to places where it is required more urgently.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Pranayama's Impact On Prana

Pranayama has a number of significant impacts on prana and, via it, the body and mind. 

  • Pranayama brings prana back into the body, increases and stores it, balances the nadi system's flow (svara), and guides prana towards the central energy channel (sushumna). 
A full analysis of these impacts may be seen below. 

  • Pranayama also has a significant impact on the body's humours (doshas) and the qualities (gunas) of the mind. 

    • Because of these benefits, pranayama may be used to fight any of the barriers mentioned by guru Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra!
    • Because knowing the particular pranayama methods is required to explain these effects.

The following are the primary benefits of pranayama practice: 

  • Returning dispersed prana to the body The Vasishta Samhita, which contains sage Vasishta's yoga teachings, claims that prana is angulas bigger than the body (finger widths). 
  • This implies that the pranic body extends 12 finger widths beyond the gross body's surface. 
  • Pranayama, according to Sage Yajnavalkya, pulls prana into the body, which was previously dispersed 12 angulas outside the gross body's surface. 

The Vedic literature also contains the same information. 

  • The sage Atharvan depicts our body as being finger widths long, with prana spreading 12 angulas beyond the body in the Shandilya Upanishad.
  • Sage Atharvan adds that the best of yogis is one who reduces his prana so that it does not disperse outside the body via yoga practice. 

The siddhas of the Middle Ages came to the same conclusion. 

  • According to the Goraksha Shataka, prana emerges from the body's surface in 12 angulas, but is drained during intense acts like as sexual intercourse in 36 or more angulas. 
  • The same statistics are cited by Sage Gheranda. This distributes one's prana and shortens one's life, according to the elders. 
  • You will live longer if you reduce the dispersion of prana. 
  • According to the Hatha Tatva Kaumudi, whomever lowers the discharge of prana to less than 12 digits is a yoga master.

The scattering of prana appears in our life as a scattered mind: 

  1. being chatty and engaged in a variety of activities that don't lead us anywhere. 
  2. It causes restlessness, 
  3. 'being out there' instead of resting in one's center, 
  4. 'being all over the place' instead of resting in one's heart, 
  5. maintaining degrading relationships, 
  6. and creating unwholesome cravings for oneself. 

Pranayama is a technique for concentrating prana in the body and withdrawing the projection of prana out into the environment, making us a more complete and integrated human being.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.

Pranayama - Prana And Its Purpose

Beyond the significance and breadth of pranayama, we must turn our attention to prana. Prana, like many other words, may have many meanings depending on the situation. 

  • Some yogic texts, for example, say that you should take prana in via your left nostril and expel it through your right nose, and vice versa. 
  • Prana simply means breath in this context. 

  • We often come across texts that urge us not to let prana enter the brain, or to deliberately drive it into the arms to acquire strength, or to direct it towards disease-prone regions of the body. 
  • The scriptural instruction to transfer prana into the center energy channel (sushumna), which creates the mystical experience, is also quite frequent. 

In all of these cases, prana clearly does not refer to breath but rather to 'vital energy.' 

The gross manifestation of the subtle life force is breath. 

In its cosmic form, prana is also a manifestation of the Great Goddess, and it is often characterized in a personalized form as Shakti or Kundalini, depending on whether it is descending or rising. 

Again, depending on the context, these two words are often interchangeable. The Brahman is associated with prana according to the Brhad Aranyaka Upanishad (infinite consciousness I deep reality). 

The Brahma Sutra says the same thing.  

How can the Brahman, which is pure, limitless awareness, and the subtle life force, which pervades and moves the whole world but is still a long way from pure consciousness, be the same thing? 

The solution may be found in the Taittiriya Upanishad's shanti chant 'Sham no mitra.' 

'Namo brahmane namaste vayo tvameva pratyaksham bhrahmasi tvameva pratyaksham brahma vadishyami' is a significant section in this prayer, which translates 'I salute you, oh Brahman, I salute you, oh Prana.' 

  • Prana, you are, after all, the immediately perceptible Brahman. 
  • I will refer to you as the immediately perceptible Brahman.' 
  • The importance of comprehending this paragraph cannot be overstated. God's transcendent nature is known as the Brahman. 
  • The term "transcendent" refers to anything that is not immediately visible (other than through an act of grace). 
  • However, its immanent component, in this instance the prana, may be recognized. 
  • Prana is referred to be the immanent element of Brahman in this shanti mantra. 

Panentheism is a philosophy that holds that God is both immanent and transcendent at the same time. 

  • Panentheistic ideas may be found in all major faiths. 
  • For example, in Christianity, the Father is God transcendent, while Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God immanent. 
  • Spirit is, interestingly enough, the Greek New Testament's translation of the original pneuma. 

The term pneuma is derived from the Sanskrit word prana, and it still has the meaning of inhalation and therefore breath in English. Prana and awareness were also connected by T. Krishnamacharya. 

  • In the waking state, he said, prana is pushed out to both the body and the mind. 
  • It withdraws from the body in the dream state and only extends to the mind. 
  • Prana, on the other hand, is removed from both the body and the mind in the deep-sleep stage and remains aware. 
  • As a result, dreaming is neither relaxing nor beneficial to one's health. It also explains why certain languages have proverbs stating that one returns home to God or does not sin when sleeping. 
  • It reflects the reality that prana has been absorbed into our spiritual essence and there is no action. 

Some texts identify prana as the Samkhya philosophy's prakrti (nature, material cause), but in this instance, we're only looking at the cosmic impersonal expression of what manifests in the human as breath and life force. 

Prana is described as the elixir of immortality in the Shatapatha Brahmana (amrita). 

  • Amrita is most often associated with a creeper-derived medicine, but in yoga, amrita refers to the reservoir of prana located in the third ventricle of the brain. Immortality is achieved when the prana is stopped there. 
  • However, this immortality does not always imply bodily immortality; other schools understand it as the attainment of divine awareness. Prana and apana must be joined in the navel chak:ra, according to other scriptural passages (Manipura). 

In these cases, prana refers to just one of the vital airs (vayus), which are subsets of the larger life force, prana. In the body, Prana has two storehouses: 

  • a lunar, mental storehouse in the center of the brain (Ajna Chakra) 
  • and a solar/physical storehouse in the navel region (Manipura Chak:ra). 
Manipura Chak:ra is also the seat of fire (agni), which is why some scriptures recommend using fire and air (prana) to raise Kundalini, but more on that later. 

In certain ancient writings, the word vayu is used instead of prana (as the Taittiriya Upanishad above). 

  • If prana is employed with the meaning of life energy, it will stand alone in this text. 
  • The complex prana vayu is used instead of the simple prana vayu to indicate the vital up-breath prana vayu, a subdivision of the life-force prana. 

The efferent (outgoing) function of the nadi system, i.e. the capacity of people to actively express themselves via the body, such as moving it in place and having it execute activities, is also referred to as prana Shakti. 

  • Because Prana Shakti is believed to operate via the right nostril, breathing techniques that mainly use the right nostril make one extraverted and active. 
  • Manas Shakti, the collective name for afferent (incoming) nadi signals, which are triggered via the left nostril, is in opposition to this. 
  • Breathing via the left nostril makes one more passive, introspective, and contemplative, since manas Shakti rather than prana Shakti is involved. 
  • The on nadi balancing goes into more depth on this. Swami Ramdev says that prana is not just breath but also invisible heavenly force to people who think of it as just "breath." 

Summarizing, prana is therefore the Great Goddess's body and deeds, by which she creates, generates, maintains, and destroys not just the whole realm of manifestation, but also each and every person. 

  • The two directional manifestations of prana are the downward-moving process of individual manifestation (Shakti) and the upward-surging process of spiritual liberation (Kundalini). 
  • Prana is the immanent God who pervades and maintains the whole world as well as all living things. Furthermore, the word prana is used to describe both the vital upward current and the efferent (outgoing) currents of the nadi system. 

When attempting to comprehend the meaning of the word prana, it is necessary to throw a broad net in order to capture all of these potential interpretations; otherwise, some literary sections will remain ambiguous.

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Pranayama - Cognitive, Mental, And Spiritual Benefits

We see the instruction in the Shandilya Upanishad that the fluctuations of prana should be stilled via the practice of pranayama. 

Why should we care about reducing these fluctuations? 

In his Goraksha Shataka, the renowned siddha Goraksha Natha taught that as long as prana flows, mind moves, and when prana is stilled, mind is stilled as well.

  • A quiet mind, like a still lake, may be utilized to view one's own reflection. 
  • Only distorted pictures may be seen since the lake's surface is ruffled. 
  • However, if the surface of the lake of the mind is calm, the mind may reflect whatever it is directed towards, in this instance the self, like a clear crystal.
  • As a result, self-awareness is possible. 
  • As a result, yogis looked into methods for calming the mind. 
  • Based on the insight that thinking is driven by prana, pranayama emerged as the most simple technique for powering meditation. 
  • When the prana is stilled, so is the mind. 

In his Yoga Taravali, Jagatguru (global teacher) Shankaracharya investigates the relationship between the upper limbs and pranayama. 

  • When pranayama is mastered, Kundalini enters what yogis refer to as the center energy channel (sushumna), then dharana (concentration, the sixth limb of yoga) and dhyana (meditation, the seventh limb) occur naturally. 
  • Pranayama enables Kundalini to rise, while Kundalini itself powers dharana and dhyana, according to Shankara. 
  • Dharana and dhyana are difficult to achieve without the Kundalini motor. 
  • In fact, you could monitor your breath for hours every day for decades without going very far. 
  • This is because if your prana is focused in one of the lower chakras, your mind will naturally gravitate toward themes like survival and fear (Muladhara Chakra), reproduction and emotion (Svadhishthana Chakra), and assimilation and riches (Svadhishthana Chakra) (Manipuraka Chakra). 
  • As Shankara says, if you raise Kundalini to the third eye (Ajna Chakra), you will enter deep meditation naturally and spontaneously, and his weapon of choice is pranayama. 
  • In a similar spirit, the Brhadyogi Yajnavalkya Smrti condemns people who believe that freedom may be attained only by knowledge to be ignorant, a reference to the Advaita Vedantins. 
  • Rather, freedom is attainable via the application of knowledge and the eight limbs, especially pranayama, dharana, and dhyana. 
  • This concept is known as Karma-jnana-samuccaya, which means that freedom is attainable via action and knowledge. This is the pranayama. 
  • As a result, the swami repeats what the yogic tradition has stated about meditation from the beginning of time. 
  • Of course, in today's world, few people listen to such expert counsel, and as a result, many people fall into the pit of intellectual torpidity and immobility. 

The Ramayana is famous for depicting the hazards of meditation when not done with a sattvic mentality:

  • The demon king Ravana, the most rajasic of the three demon brothers, practiced meditation with a rajasic mentality, and his anger was his undoing. 
  • Kumbhakarna, his younger brother, pondered with a tamasic mentality and went into a profound sleep from which he only sometimes awoke. 
  • Only Vibhishana, the third brother, pondered with a sattvic mind, and it was only his intellect that drew him closer to the Divine. 

Despite being written after the Mahabharata, the Ramayana includes one of humanity's oldest orally passed-down epics. 

  • It contains numerous profound meditation lessons that, although mastered by sages of a bygone period, are no longer comprehended by contemporary practitioners. 
  • As a result, an increasing number of people are following in the footsteps of Ravana and Kumbhakarna. 
  • This world's basis is not being gnawed at by a widespread lack of meditation, since the whole globe meditates with deep skill on Mammon, the enormous dollar. 
  • What you concentrate on will decide your fate, since you will attract and become what you think on. 
  • The intellect must first be rendered sattvic via pranayama before starting on the meditation journey. 

Andre Van Lysebeth, the author of many excellent yoga publications and the first westerner to meet Krishnamacharya's pupil K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, offers a similar warning but goes into more depth. 

He claims that mastering asana and pranayama is required before activating the chakras; else, pranic short circuits may develop.

These are more likely to occur in individuals who do not adequately prepare themselves via asana and pranayama, and one could add kriya, or cleansing procedures, to this list. 

I cite Sir John Woodroffe, author of The Serpent Power and many other timeless classics on Tantra, to conclude our journey into testimonials on pranayama from ancient experts. According to him, Shakti, or Kundalini, may be awakened in one of two ways: via mantra or through pranayama. 

The author of the book Laya Yoga: The Definitive Guide to the Chakras and Kundalini, Shyam Sundar Goswami, makes it clear that mantra is energized via nadi cleansing. 

Pranayama is the most effective way to do so. It must be practiced before moving on to more advanced parts of yoga, since it is the source of all upstream techniques of awakening Kundalini (those that pertain to the upper limbs). 

Here, I aim to have shown to you that pranayama, not asana, is the most important aspect of yoga. 

However, pranayama cannot be done without a solid foundation in asana practice. 

However, continuing to practice asana without moving on to pranayama is like to plowing a field without ever planting the seed or repeatedly washing a garment without ever wearing it. 

  • It is clearly ridiculous to refuse to take the step that will result in a reward for one's efforts, yet the modern yoga movement is doing just that. 
  • Others who practice asana but fail to go on to pranayama are in contrast to those who rush right into meditation techniques without a foundation in asana and pranayama. 
  • Meditation is a vessel that may help us navigate across the sea of conditioned life. Kundalini is the vehicle's engine (roused life force). 
  • The fuel for this engine is kumbhaka (breath retention), which is the core of pranayama. 
  • This fuel, on the other hand, can only be lit in a body that has been created in the fire of asana. 

Hundreds of millions of people have begun to meditate as a result of the visit of some rock band members to Indian gurus and the following New Age movement. 

Some gurus claimed that meditating every day would guarantee success in two years or less. 

  • Now, some 40 years later, we can state unequivocally that such achievements, if they exist at all, are the uncommon. 
  • A meditation practice that is not driven by pranayama, like an asana practice that does not evolve into a pranayama practice, is unlikely to yield more than transitory benefits. 
  • It's also why so many spiritual searchers still depend on their gurus to generate results in them rather than being able to establish their own spiritual discipline on solid ground. 
  • When taught by the ancient sages, most meditation techniques were either done during kumbhaka (breath retention) or propelled by various ways of Kundalinirousing, which frequently incorporated one or more elements of pranayama. 

As a result, pranayama is critical in bridging the gap between asana and meditation. 

Asana provides the ground for pranayama to take place on. 

Pranayama establishes the foundation for effective meditation. When done correctly, meditation may lead to the realization of the Divine.

You may also want to read more about Pranayama and Holistic Healing here.