By Shameem Akthar
Pranayamas offer great avenues for growth and challenge
Shameem Akthar has trained as yoga Acharya with
the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and
is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology.
The reason why people go yoga-shopping is because they feel bored with certain practices. This is particularly true of pranayama. As an instructor, I always find it difficult to hold the interest of the class in the practice of pranayamas. However, these days, the urgency of trying to convince people has left me. I appreciate that pranayama practice is also an act of grace. If you are lucky and open to higher energies with simple, single-minded focus, you will love pranayama. If not, then you will not love it. This has nothing to do with an external agent, including a yoga instructor!
Pranayamas are cleansing practices. Each pranayama cleanses a different area of your mind and emotions. They cleanse you not just of this life’s debris, but also of karmic backload. Therefore, clearly they cannot be entertaining. Mopping the floor is not entertaining. It is something that has to be done. However, if you do it with a particular attitude, perhaps, you will do a better job of it than with a lackadaisical attitude. Imagine if you decided to dance as you mopped the floor, would that be
|Pranayamas offer great avenues for growth and challenge|
effective? However, those who seek fun during pranayama are asking for exactly that! A cleansing task has to be done as a cleansing task, with dedication and reaching into spots that are difficult to clean. So also with pranayamas. They reach into your personality to clean up, where nobody else, including you, can reach. If you appreciate this, you would confine your practice to a few pranayamas and progress within them, instead of experimenting wildly with others.
Even the most basic pranayamas have great avenues of growth and challenge. You grow in retention, the duration of retention. You grow by increasing, progressively, the ratio of inhalation, retention, and exhalation (as in nadi shodhana or energy channel purifier). You even grow in the comfort level, with which you practise the few pranayamas daily – the same pranayama may be difficult on the day you are mentally disturbed. You also grow during the duration of the entire practice. You can grow in the use of bandhas or energy locks. You may grow by repeating the same practice thrice.
(Easy breathing practice): Choose a comfortable seated meditative posture. Place your hands in any mudra of your choice. The most common one, tip of index finger touching tip of thumb of each hand, is also good. Place hands on your knees, palms up. Purse your lips to form an O with the mouth. Inhale from the mouth. Then relax the lips and exhale from the nose. This is one round. You may do up to five to ten rounds at a time.
Avoid: In polluted places or if having chest infections or respiratory tract infections. It cools the entire mind and body, calms mind and soothes anger. Lowers blood pressure. It is helpful in treating stammering. Sweetens voice.
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