By B K S Iyengar
Inhalation and exhalation are the twin building blocks of pranayama. It is not just unconscious act of gasping in air but receiving air slowly. Similarly, exhalation is not expelling but releasing breath in a controlled way. By practicing viloma pranayama, where the air is inhaled and exhaled with pauses, the cellular system is completely energized.
‘Viloma‘ means against the natural order of things. In viloma pranayama, inhalation or exhalation is done with several pauses. Thus the time taken to complete a viloma inhalation or exhalation will be longer than that of the normal or ujjaiinhalation or exhalation.
This stage is an introduction to viloma pranayama and, therefore, is done lying down. It can be done by beginners, and by people suffering from low blood pressure.
1. Take a bolster, a blanket and a soft cloth.
2. Sit on the floor and place a bolster lengthwise such that it just touches the buttocks.
3. Gently rest your back on the bolster.
4. Fold the blanket three folds and place it under the head. Adjust the blanket so that it supports the head evenly.
5. Cover the eyes with a soft cloth.
6. Lie down quietly for some time.
7. Close your eyes, keeping your eyeballs soft, passive and receptive. Keep your inner ears alert and receptive.
8. Exhale quietly until the lungs feel empty and the abdomen remains soft.
9. Now, start with interrupted inhalation. Inhale for two to three seconds, pause, and hold the breath for two to three seconds. Repeat once again. To pause, the diaphragm is lightly immobilized. When you start breathing once again, do not let loose the diaphragm after each pause. Continue in this manner until the lungs are full. This may involve four to five pauses.
10. Exhale slowly and steadily until the lungs feel empty.
This completes one cycle of viloma stage I or inhalation with pauses. Repeat the viloma cycle again after introducing two to three cycles of normal breathing in between. One may repeat the cycles for up to seven to 10 minutes or as long as one does not feel tired. Then rest in savasana.
This is an introduction to interrupted exhalation with pauses. It is suitable for beginners, or for persons with high blood pressure or a heart complaint.
1. Lie down quietly as shown earlier. After a few minutes exhale completely.
2. Inhale steadily without any pause until your lungs feel full, but do not overstrain.
3. Exhale slowly for two to three seconds, pause, hold the breath for two to three seconds and repeat. Continue in this manner until the lungs feel emptied completely. This may involve four to five pauses. Gradually release the grip on the abdomen.
This completes one cycle of viloma stage II. Repeat the cycle, alternating with two to three cycles of normal breathing in between, for 10 minutes or until fatigue is not felt. Inhale and then lie down in savasana.
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