There are several ways of doing pranayam, but the basic concept remains the same. You sit on your asan, in your darkened room, sit in your chosen yogic posture, Ardha-padmasan, Siddhasan or Padmasan. Then you inhale/ Purak, retain the breath/ Kumbhak and then exhale/ Rechak in a specific pattern. This Pranayam is quite a serious ‘vital exercise’ (it is in fact a Yog) where you are manipulating the pran/vital energy in your body so there are a few things you should be aware of.
Pranayam pattern One –
You should start with the relatively gentle Anulom/Vilom Pranayam first. The thumb is used to close the right nostril and the little and ring fingers together close the left nostril. Anyone can do this irrespective of physical fitness.
- Close your right nostril and breathe slowly in from your left,
- then close your left nostril, (both nostrils will remain closed briefly)
- open just your right and breathe slowly out from the right.
- Next breathe in slowly from the right,
- close the right, (both will be closed briefly)
- open just the left and breathe out slowly from the left nostril.
- This is one count. Repeat
Start your practice with 6 counts. You can increase the time to upto 30 mins in one sitting. (If you cannot sit for 30 mins at a stretch, at least do 10 breathing counts regularly ideally four times a day, but even twice a day is good to start with.)
This is the basic pattern and it goes in very deep. For regular practice this pattern is the most effective and safest.
Pranayam Pattern Two –
Attempt this Bhastrika Pranayam only and only if you are physically fit and only after you have been doing the basic Anulom/Vilom regularly at least for a month. Breathe in, fill your chest, do not retain the breath, breathe out immediately with a hissing sound in your throat. This is one count. Your chest will be moving very fast. Do 10 counts and then the 11th count will be breath in and out very slowly without retaining the air. These 11 counts is one set.
Do only one set initially, maximum is 6 sets. It can be exhausting, so attempt it only if you are fit enough, else you can damage your body. This pranayam has a specific use, i.e. to open the Sushumna and force the flow of pran through it.
Pranayam Pattern Three –
Only when you have been doing the Pattern One for at least one month regularly and you are fit enough. Inhale slowly through both nostrils. Retain the air. Now push your head back on your shoulders so that your neck muscles tighten. And pull in your abdomen upwards as much as you can. The retained air will now create a pressure against your throat. Retain this for as long as you comfortably can. Now close your left nostril with the ring and little finger of your right hand and breathe out through your right nostril. This is one count. Do this 5 times where you will exhale from the right nostril only. Then for the next 5 counts, repeat the same process but now you will now breathe out from the left nostril only, and close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand. This 5+5 is one set.
You can go upto 10 counts per nostril but slowly, and increase the time to upto 30 mins in one sitting. These are strenuous movements of the body and the pran too, so never rush into it, slowly and gradually.
These three patterns are the preparatory phases where you clean out the body and remove all diseases which linger on in it. All chronic diseases and bodily pains can be overcome by regulating the pran/vital energy in your body. A few tips would be,
- Practice twice a day.
- Do not eat heavy meals at least 2 hours before doing this, you can have a small snack upto 30 mins before doing this.
- Eat food that you have prepared with your own hands, at least one dish a day. Do not eat spicy or heavy foods.
- The inward and outward breath should be slow steady and a smooth flow. If there is disturbance in the flow of air it will cause negative impact on the body. So focus on the rhythm and the flow of the breath. The more relaxed it is the more beneficial it will be.
- The air from the lungs must be exhaled completely before you start inhaling again. Abdominal breathing will ensure this.
- Your neck, back and head should be straight, not stressed, relaxed and straight. The body muscles and body posture should not be under stress. No forced breathing, no strain on the chest/abdominal muscles. Do not worry about the length of the breath, initially it will be quite short, the body knows when to extend it.
- Visualise that your body is being filled with positive silvery/golden energy as you breathe in. As you breathe out visualise that you are throwing away all the negativity, black stuff and darkness out from you.
- Try and live a satvik (energies directed towards the internal Reality) lifestyle, do not think or do things which go against the conscience.
- If you wish to do Mantra jaap or Dhyan or Homa or any spiritual practice, do it after you have completed your pranayam, it will be more powerful.
- Be patient and do your practice, your internal energy nadi and chakras are all being cleaned out. It might take some time for it to be visible in your physical body, but within 6 months people close to you will notice the difference and you yourself will also feel lighter and cleaner. Willpower will increase, you will be more fearless, intellect/memory will be sharper, you will look bright/serene, aura will change etc.
Pranayam increases the ‘heat’ within the body, this ‘heat’ is used to clean out the blockages within your chakra/nadi system. You should go slow because these blockages are within the thinnest possible nadis, they have to be cleared gently to avoid damage. This much can be practiced by a householder who is still active in his routine life. For the next step in Pranayam there are rules which need to be followed regarding food, behaviour etc. And these rules are for your own safety, because you are manipulating the most valuable thing in the universe, your own vital energy.
And the most important thing, you have to recite a Mantra when you do your Pranayam else the energies created will be tamasic. As the initial levels, I would advise you to mentally recite OM four times as you breathe in (Purak) or out (Rechak) and mentally recite OM eight times when you are holding your breath, pinching your nose shut (kumbhak). This will ensure that you gain on the spiritual levels too. This is extremely important and I have seen that all ‘modern yoga’ teachers completely miss this.
So try these seemingly simple Pranayam. Start with pattern one, initially this will take 5 mins of your time twice a day. (Ideally these are to be practiced at sunrise, midday, sunset and midnight. If you )
You are investing these few minutes for your own self, so do practice.