Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pranayama (Patananjali's 8 limbs of Yoga)

Namaskaram


Pranayama - 4th Limb

The fourth of the eight rungs of Yoga is Pranayama, which is regulating the breath so as to make it slow and subtle , leading to the experience of the steady flow of energy (prana), which is beyond or underneath exhalation, inhalation, and the transitions between them

Posture is the prerequisite: To successfully practice and attain the full benefits of breath control and pranayama, it is necessary that it be built on the solid foundation of a steady and comfortable sitting posture . Pranayama is preparation for concentration: Through these practices and processes of pranayama the mind acquires or develops the fitness, qualification, or capability for concentration (dharana), which is the sixth limb

Once that perfected posture has been achieved, the slowing or braking of the force behind, and of unregulated movement of inhalation and exhalation is called breath control and expansion of prana (pranayama), which leads to the absence of the awareness of both, and is the fourth of the eight rungs.
(tasmin sati shvasa prashvsayoh gati vichchhedah pranayamah)

That pranayama has three aspects of external or outward flow (exhalation), internal or inward flow (inhalation), and the third, which is the absence of both during the transition between them, and is known as fixedness, retention, or suspension. These are regulated by place, time, and number, with breath becoming slow and subtle.
(bahya abhyantara stambha vrittih desha kala sankhyabhih paridrishtah dirgha sukshmah)

Three aspects of breath and prana are trained when doing any of the specific breathing practices:

1)Exhalation: Training the exhalation is removing the jerkiness, allowing the flow to be slow and deep, as well as diaphragmatic.

2)Inhalation: Training the exhalation also means eliminating jerkiness, breathing slowly, and using the diaphragm.

3)Transition: Between exhalation and inhalation, and between inhalation and exhalation there is a transition, which is experienced as suspension, retention, or cessation, etc. The training of the transition is to make it very smooth, as if there were no pause at all. Between exhalation and inhalation there is a transition when one is neither exhaling nor inhaling. Between inhalation and exhalation there is also a transition when one is neither inhaling nor exhaling.



During breathing practices, the cycles of breath (exhalation, inhalation, and transition) are witnessed and regulated in three ways:

1)Place (desha, spot, space, location): The awareness of breath or its flow of energy is intentionally focused in some location, such as the diaphragm, one or both nostrils, up and down the spine, throughout the whole body, or with attention placed in one point (navel, heart, or eyebrow centers, etc.). The different points of attention will bring different experiences and different depths of benefit
.
2)Time (kala, period, duration): The timing of exhalation, inhalation, and transition are also consciously regulated. The pause between breaths is gently eliminated, or later, in the case of kumbhaka practices, might be intentionally lengthened. Exhalation and inhalation might be made of equal duration, or exhalation might be lengthened, such as in two-to-one breathing. As the pauses are eliminated, the exhalations and inhalations might become quite slow, transcending the gross breath , and bringing a great peace to the mind, leading to concentration and meditation

3)Number (sankhyabhih, count): One may count the number of seconds or heartbeats associated with inhalation and exhalation, causing the number to be the same for exhalation and inhalation. For example, one may initially count 6 seconds each for inhalation and exhalation, which is a total of 12 seconds per breath, or 5 breaths per minute. With two-to-one breathing, one might exhale 8 seconds and inhale 4 seconds, which is also 12 seconds per breath, or 5 breaths per minute. The counts may be made higher, allowing the breath to be longer. Another way of counting is by measuring the distance below the nostrils at which the flow of air can be felt with the hand or fingers. The further the distance can be felt, the quicker the breath. The less the distance the air can be felt below the nostrils, the slower the breath.

Slow and subtle are the goals: The goal of the practices are to make the breath slow and subtle (sukshmah, made fine). It is very useful to keep in mind that these two are the goals, regardless of which specific breathing and pranayama practices are being done. It allows the mind to stay focused on why the practices are being done, and how they fit into the scheme of the eight rungs of Yoga , leading to "deep meditation" and "samadhi"

The fourth pranayama: The fourth pranayama is that continuous prana which surpasses, is beyond, or behind those others that operate in the exterior and interior realms or fields. It refers to that pure prana that is beyond the three aspects we know as exhalation, inhalation, and transition between these. It is a process of transcending breath as we usually know it, so as to drop into the energy of pure prana that is underneath, or support to the gross breath. This comes after working with the three pranayamas, and these rest on the foundation of the Yamas, Niyamas, and Asana, which are the first three rungs of Yoga. The fourth pranayama transcends the waves: Similarly, in the fourth pranayama, your attention transcends the process of coming and going of exhalation and inhalation, as well as the transitions between them. In the fourth pranayama, you experience the prana itself as an ever existing force, beyond the surface currents. Through that pranayama the veil of karmasheya that covers the inner illumination or light is thinned, diminishes and vanishes, allowing the inner light to come shining through.

Through these practices and processes of pranayama, which is the fourth of the eight steps, the mind acquires or develops the fitness, qualification, or capability for true concentration (dharana), which is itself the sixth of the steps.
(dharanasu cha yogyata manasah)

Photo: we have discussed the 3 steps / limbs of patanjali yogsutras which are yama , niyamas and asanas , now the the 4th limb is pranayama , many people are doing pranayama without knowing the deep science in it , yet they are getting the health related benefits 

The fourth of the eight rungs of Yoga is Pranayama, which is regulating the breath so as to make it slow and subtle , leading to the experience of the steady flow of energy (prana), which is beyond or underneath exhalation, inhalation, and the transitions between them 

Posture is the prerequisite: To successfully practice and attain the full benefits of breath control and pranayama, it is necessary that it be built on the solid foundation of a steady and comfortable sitting posture . Pranayama is preparation for concentration: Through these practices and processes of pranayama the mind acquires or develops the fitness, qualification, or capability for concentration (dharana), which is the sixth limb 

Once that perfected posture has been achieved, the slowing or braking of the force behind, and of unregulated movement of inhalation and exhalation is called breath control and expansion of prana (pranayama), which leads to the absence of the awareness of both, and is the fourth of the eight rungs.
(tasmin sati shvasa prashvsayoh gati vichchhedah pranayamah)

That pranayama has three aspects of external or outward flow (exhalation), internal or inward flow (inhalation), and the third, which is the absence of both during the transition between them, and is known as fixedness, retention, or suspension. These are regulated by place, time, and number, with breath becoming slow and subtle.
(bahya abhyantara stambha vrittih desha kala sankhyabhih paridrishtah dirgha sukshmah)

Three aspects of breath and prana are trained when doing any of the specific breathing practices:

1)Exhalation: Training the exhalation is removing the jerkiness, allowing the flow to be slow and deep, as well as diaphragmatic.

2)Inhalation: Training the exhalation also means eliminating jerkiness, breathing slowly, and using the diaphragm.

3)Transition: Between exhalation and inhalation, and between inhalation and exhalation there is a transition, which is experienced as suspension, retention, or cessation, etc. The training of the transition is to make it very smooth, as if there were no pause at all. Between exhalation and inhalation there is a transition when one is neither exhaling nor inhaling. Between inhalation and exhalation there is also a transition when one is neither inhaling nor exhaling.

 During breathing practices, the cycles of breath (exhalation, inhalation, and transition) are witnessed and regulated in three ways:

1)Place (desha, spot, space, location): The awareness of breath or its flow of energy is intentionally focused in some location, such as the diaphragm, one or both nostrils, up and down the spine, throughout the whole body, or with attention placed in one point (navel, heart, or eyebrow centers, etc.). The different points of attention will bring different experiences and different depths of benefit
.
2)Time (kala, period, duration): The timing of exhalation, inhalation, and transition are also consciously regulated. The pause between breaths is gently eliminated, or later, in the case of kumbhaka practices, might be intentionally lengthened. Exhalation and inhalation might be made of equal duration, or exhalation might be lengthened, such as in two-to-one breathing. As the pauses are eliminated, the exhalations and inhalations might become quite slow, transcending the gross breath , and bringing a great peace to the mind, leading to concentration and meditation 

3)Number (sankhyabhih, count): One may count the number of seconds or heartbeats associated with inhalation and exhalation, causing the number to be the same for exhalation and inhalation. For example, one may initially count 6 seconds each for inhalation and exhalation, which is a total of 12 seconds per breath, or 5 breaths per minute. With two-to-one breathing, one might exhale 8 seconds and inhale 4 seconds, which is also 12 seconds per breath, or 5 breaths per minute. The counts may be made higher, allowing the breath to be longer. Another way of counting is by measuring the distance below the nostrils at which the flow of air can be felt with the hand or fingers. The further the distance can be felt, the quicker the breath. The less the distance the air can be felt below the nostrils, the slower the breath.

Slow and subtle are the goals: The goal of the practices are to make the breath slow  and subtle (sukshmah, made fine). It is very useful to keep in mind that these two are the goals, regardless of which specific breathing and pranayama practices are being done. It allows the mind to stay focused on why the practices are being done, and how they fit into the scheme of the eight rungs of Yoga , leading to "deep meditation" and "samadhi"

The fourth pranayama: The fourth pranayama is that continuous prana which surpasses, is beyond, or behind those others that operate in the exterior and interior realms or fields. It refers to that pure prana that is beyond the three aspects we know as exhalation, inhalation, and transition between these. It is a process of transcending breath as we usually know it, so as to drop into the energy of pure prana that is underneath, or support to the gross breath. This comes after working with the three pranayamas, and these rest on the foundation of the Yamas, Niyamas, and Asana, which are the first three rungs of Yoga. The fourth pranayama transcends the waves: Similarly, in the fourth pranayama, your attention transcends the process of coming and going of exhalation and inhalation, as well as the transitions between them. In the fourth pranayama, you experience the prana itself as an ever existing force, beyond the surface currents. Through that pranayama the veil of karmasheya  that covers the inner illumination or light is thinned, diminishes and vanishes, allowing the inner light to come shining through.

Through these practices and processes of pranayama, which is the fourth of the eight steps, the mind acquires or develops the fitness, qualification, or capability for true concentration (dharana), which is itself the sixth of the steps.
(dharanasu cha yogyata manasah)