Yesterday I spent the day reading up and re-familiarizing myself with pranayama, (breath control). I have practised Pranayama on several occasions over the past 7 years and become accustomed to its raw power. No other exercise effects your total self quite like the breath of life.
The last time I practised for several weeks and then had to stop as I felt I had become just too open. I was experiencing very unusual perceptual abilities. I could see why most yogin retire to an ashram in which to open and expand the system, as doing so in a busy modern city can de a difficult endeavour. Opening the higher chakras whilst being surrounded by people deeply rooted in the materialism, inebriation and the guttural thought forms of the lower energy realms can be a trying procedure.
Practicing the eight limbs of yoga intensely for a prolonged period hones the mind and system to such a degree that all the senses sharpen, including the sixth and higher senses. The ability to directly read people’s minds, bodies and energies can become a hindrance in a tough, masculine city such as Manchester where people rarely pass on a smile to strangers, fear and self consciousness completely absorb the majorities attention. Sense withdrawal skills become handy when traversing the city streets so as to remain unaffected by the hordes contagious energies.
I reread Goswami Kriyanandas instructions, it’s always a pleasure to read his beautiful style of writing and I also read “The science of Pranayama” by Sri Swami Sivananda which was a first for me and provided some interesting new insights into Pranayama.
Pranayama always comes with strong warnings and the strict instructions to never push to hard. Slow gradual progress is the most important rule.
Pranayama should ideally be practised four times a day, though this is usually too difficult for most people. Last time I settled for twice a day, at noon and at midnight but this time I feel I shall attempt the full four sittings and if it gets too much I can always drop it down to two.
My rough plan is to practise at:
- Sunrise; roughly 6:30 am
- 6:00 pm
The sunrise session shall be simply Pranayama followed by asan (sitting in a meditative posture).
Noon session will be preceded by physical Asana (yoga poses), starting roughly at 11:00 am.
6:00 pm session will be simple Pranayama and sitting asan.
Midnight will be Pranayama followed by sense withdrawal, concentration and meditation. Though I will always go with my feelings whilst practising and this is a very rough guide.
I set my alarm for 6:30 am. I usually rise between 9 and 11 am so it was quite a shock this morning to be so rudely pulled from my dreams. For 5 minutes I wrestled with the idea of going back to sleep and forgetting my practice, but soon found it in me to jump up, brush my teeth and found myself sitting on my Indian woolen blanket at 6:40.
I took it slow the first session. It felt nice to be back in the blanket. The motor memory of previous Pranayama sessions came back to me and I only required some brief revision to recall the procedure.
I decided to start with:
- Deep abdominal breathing – Derga-shwasa-prashwasa
- Inhalation/exhalation extension
- Easy breath – Sukha-purvaka
- Vitalising breath
- Bellows breath – Bhastrika
Wow! Bellows breath is powerful!
I sat with eyes closed in The prosperous pose for 5 minutes. A short time but you should begin slowly.
I have had a terrible manflu for the last two weeks, so much mucous came out, it was unbelievable. I am over the worse now and decided to go ahead on the auspicious autumnal equinox day.
My nasal passages were a little dry but overall the session went very smoothly. I read for a while before falling back asleep till 11:00 am. I need to re-programme my body clock over the coming days.
At 11:00 am I did some sun salutations followed by an hours yogic warm ups and stretching, culminating in handstand, head stand and scorpion. I have not done any physical practice in over 2 Months as before my flu I had a bad fall from my mountain bike which left me on crutches for several weeks. My right leg is still very sore and I cannot manage the full lotus posture or leg bounces properly. I took this first session very slowly and gradually.
I then performed the same pranayama as earlier except I missed out the vitalizing breath as I wanted to do the full Pranayama session without getting up or opening my eyes. This procedure allows me to kill two birds with one stone as it combines the breathing exercises with sitting asan. In total I sat for 13 minutes. We now approach my third session of the day so I must leave it there..