The Blog title poster above forms part of a series of posters I made up for a book, 'Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga Yoga', based on the public domain translation from the Tamil edition of Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (Mysore 1934) . It's available for free on my Free Downloads page above. There is a print edition on Lulu.com ( Note: It's best to buy it in print from Lulu as I can reduce the price down almost to cost rather than on Amazon where I have less control of pricing.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

P R A N A Y A M A - An Absolute Necessity in YOGA

Last week I posted an excellent report on a Mudra and Pranayama seminar given by one of Krishnamacharya's sons, T.K.SRIBHASHYAM, who is based in Nice, FRANCE.
http://www.yogakshemam.net

"Pearl" or the influence of Mudra and Prânâyâma in a spiritual search by Sri TK Sribhashyam

I was told about the article in a comment on an earlier post, thank you Anon..

The article below, P R A N A Y A M A - An Absolute Necessity in YOGA was also sent to me and can be found on T.K.SRIBHASHYAM's website. It's also been reproduced on my friend Madhu's, Blog Yoga = Freedom Kaivalya Maui ( Madhu is a student of T.K. Sribhashyam as well as Ramaswami)

It strikes me as an excellent treatment of the topic that gives relatively straightforward instructions for practice and yet also provides a deeper context. I've found it's added layers as well as some more context to my own pranayama practice.

A note on my own Pranayama practice.
I was taught Pranayama by Srivatsa Ramaswami ( a student of Sribhashyam's father Krishnamacharya, for over thirty years) on his Vinyasa Krama TT course. The importance of an integrated practice was stressed and, without fuss, we ( a class of mixed abilities and experience) were taught a relatively straightforward Nadi Shodana pranayama that over the two weeks of the pranayama course increased in duration. Kumbhaka's (breath retentions) were introduced as well as other pranayama's. By the end of of the course we were practicing 80 rounds of UJJAYI PRATHILOMA (see below) with approximately 20 second retention after the inhalation when we would mentally chant a pranayama mantra. As the teacher training continued we would practice our Asana each morning followed by  pranayama, pratyahara and Japa mantra meditation. 
My point being this is a practice available to anyone who practices yoga. Start simply and build gently within your own capabilities. In day to day life we tend to inhale and exhale for two or three seconds, fifteen or so breaths a minute...anything is an improvement on that. Long, slow, full attentive breathing is a good place to begin.

I thought it might be useful to outline the article first as well as pick out some practice notes for ease of reference.

The article begins by stressing the importance of pranayama in all yoga practice

"This drift from the real nature of Yoga might have many reasons. Amongst them the lack of importance given to PRANAYMA in one's practice cannot be ignored.
Very often false reasons are invoked to keep PRANAYAMA away from one's teaching or practice. Still, there is not one teacher nor one school that does not talk of PRANA.
It is true that the Yogic way for the quest of inner Self and the Search for God Realisation through Pranayama is not a simple subject. This should not be an excuse for not introducing it in the practice sessions of pupils whether they practice regularly or not".

It then presents which Pranayama's are said to act on which functions

1. Physiological functions,
as for eg. UJJAYI ANULOMA and SHITHALI.

2. Nervous System,
as for eg. UJJAYI VILOMA, UJJAYI PRATHILOMA and NADI SHODHANA,

3.  mental plane,
as for eg. NADI SHODHANA with Bahya Kumbhaka and SURYA BHEDHANA,

4.  Spiritual Quest,
like the SAMA VRITHI in NADI SHODHANA, and SURYA BHEDANA
both of them as SAGARBHA PRANAYAMA

This is followed by a recap of the techniques involved for each pranayama and interestingly, which  pranayama should be practiced at the start and which at the end of your yoga practice session.

Reminder
Puraka = Inhalation
Antah Kumbhaka = retaining breath after inhaling
Rechaka = Exhalation
Bahya Kumbhaka = Holding out the breath

In general
To be practiced at the START of your practice session
(one or more)

UJJAYI ANULOMA: 
Inhalation (PURAKA) through both nostrils in UJJAYI, 
Exhalation (RECHAKA) through Left Nostril, without ujjayi, 
Inhalation through both nostrils in Ujjayi, and 
Exhalation through the Right Nostril, without Ujjayi. 
These two breaths making one Cycle of Ujjayi Anuloma.

SHITHALI: 
Slightly open the mouth, bring out the tongue, fold it lengthwise, to make it resemble a tube, 
Inhale (aspire) through the mouth. At the end of the Inhalation, draw back the tongue, close the mouth, and... 
Exhale through Ujjayi, by both the nostrils.

UJJAYI VILOMA: 
Inhale through the Left Nostril, without using Ujjayi, 
Exhale through Ujjayi, with both the nostrils open. 
Inhale, again through the Right Nostril, without using Ujjayi, and 
Exhale through Ujjayi, with both the nostrils open. 
This forms one Cycle.

UJJAYI PRATHILOMA: 
Inhale through Ujjayi, 
Exhale by the Left Nostril, 
Inhale by Left Nostril, 
Exhale by Ujjayi, 
Inhale by Ujjayi, 
Exhale by Right Nostril, 
Inhale by Right Nostril, and 
Exhale by Ujjayi. 
These 4 breaths make one cycles, and to be of any value, a minimum of 4 cycles or 16 breaths is needed.
----------------------

To be practiced at the END of your practice session
(one or more)

NADI SHODHANA: 
This is a Pranayama where no ujjayi should ever be used. 
Inhale by the Left Nostril, 
Exhale by the Right Nostril,
Inhale by the Right Nostril, 
Exhale by the Left Nostril.
It is to be noted that a Pranayama can have KUMBHAKA: either after Inhalation (called ANTAH KUMBHAKA) or after Exhalation (called BAHYA KUMBHAKA)

SURYA BHEDHANA: 
This Pranayama should be done only in Nadi Shodhana. 
Here, the Puraka, Antah Kumbhaka and Rechaka would have a proportional time measure. 
The Antah Kumbhaka should be 4 times the measure of Puraka, while that of 
Rechaka should be of twice the measure of Puraka. 
To cite an example: Puraka = say 8", the Antah Kumbhaka = 32" while the Rechaka = 16".

SAMA VRITHI: 
Sama Vrithi is a Pranayama imperatively practiced in NADI SHODHANA. 
In this Pranayama, while following the technique of Nadi Shodhana, the time allotted to Puraka, Antah Kumbhaka, Rechaka and Bahya Kumbhaka should be the same. 
For eg. Puraka = Antah Kumbhaka = Rechaka = Bahya Kumbhaka = 5".
------------------------------------

P R A N A Y A M A  -  An Absolute necessity in YOGA

- A  dedicated homage to my father and teacher,
Sri T. KRISHNAMACHARYA.

... by  T.K.SRIBHASHYAM, Nice, FRANCE
                     
        
                       Whatever be the reason for teaching Yoga, it is a certainty that the pupil, slowly but definitely, quests for the ULTIMATE REALITY.  Even if multitudes of methods, school, ideas and individuation have drifted Yoga from its real value, yet, it is because of the incessant search of pupils that Yoga continues to have an important place in the inner reflections of people all around the world.
           This drift from the real nature of Yoga might have many reasons.  Amongst them the lack of importance given to PRANAYMA in one's practice cannot be ignored.

Very often false reasons are invoked to keep PRANAYAMA away from one's teaching or practice.  Still, there is not one teacher nor one school that does not talk of PRANA.
          It is true that the Yogic way for the quest of inner Self and the Search for God Realisation through Pranayama is not a simple subject.  This should not be an excuse for not introducing it in the practice sessions of pupils whether they practice regularly or not.
      In fact, Pranayama maintains and  keeps our spiritual life alive, just as our breath that keeps our biological one alive.  For the same reason very often Pranayama is confounded with our physiological breath. Indeed, the relation between the two seems so juxtaposed that we get mixed up.  It is just like a tool and the basic raw material out of which the tool is made up of.  The tool is so much and so often used that we seldom think of the importance of the basic metal that give birth to the tool.  Still, we know that the quality and the value of the basic material are the determining factors for the utility, value and life of the tool. Same way, in the eyes of the Yogic Masters, our physiological breath is but a tool.
      The Great Masters of India used this relation to the utmost and derived great benefit in their spiritual quest.  They did not use the physiological breathing merely to increase  the vital reserves, but valued it more in a metaphysical sense.   Since the physical breath is but a product of the basic material, this product should help us `know' that basic material!                                         
      That is to say, by `going beyond' the product, in which the basic material is present, one should be able to find it in its `natural form'.  This,  the VEDAS and the UPANISHADS call  PRANA, and that which helps go beyond is  AAYAMA.  So much so, the means by which the physical breath is used to `go beyond' are termed
PRANAYAMA.                                                                                                                                               
      PRANAYAMA is part and parcel of any Yogic approach worth its name.  Moreover, it is not out of place to take note that no Hindu ritual starts without a Pranayama.  This does not mean that Yoga is a religious act, but since it has its root in Hinduism, we cannot but consider it as our reference.
      Coming to the practical aspects, Yogic Science has given clear cut rules for the introduction of Pranayama in any Practice Session.  Later studies have given light on their physiological actions on the human body as a whole.
      Here we shall content ourselves with some fundamental principles:
  1.  Those that act mainly on the Physiological functions,
       as for eg. UJJAYI ANULOMA and SHITHALI.
               
  2.  Those that act mainly on the Nervous System,
       as for eg. UJJAYI VILOMA, UJJAYI PRATHILOMA and
       NADI SHODHANA,
    
3.  Those that work on the mental plane,
       as for eg. NADI SHODHANA with Bahya Kumbhaka and
       SURYA BHEDHANA,     
      
4.  Those that maintain the Spiritual Quest,
       like the SAMA VRITHI in NADI SHODHANA, and SURYA BHEDANA
       both of them as SAGARBHA PRANAYAMA
      
       Let us briefly recapitulate the technique of the above Pranayama, remembering that the Pranayama are done in a sitting posture (VAJRA ASANA or PADMA ASANA), and that the back should be straight, without any cushion or pillow under the hips.

UJJAYI ANULOMA: Inhalation (PURAKA) through both nostrils in UJJAYI, Exhalation (RECHAKA) through Left Nostril, without ujjayi, Inhalation through both nostrils in Ujjayi, and Exhalation through the Right Nostril, without Ujjayi.  These two breaths making one Cycle of Ujjayi Anuloma. 
SHITHALI:  Slightly open the mouth, bring out the tongue, fold it lengthwise, to make it resemble a tube, Inhale (aspire) through the mouth.  At the end of the Inhalation, draw back the tongue, close the mouth, and Exhale through Ujjayi, by both the nostrils. 
UJJAYI VILOMA:  Inhale through the Left Nostril, without using Ujjayi, Exhale through Ujjayi, with both the nostrils open.  Inhale, again through the Right Nostril, without using Ujjayi, and Exhale through Ujjayi, with both the nostrils open.  This forms one Cycle. 
UJJAYI PRATHILOMA:   Inhale through Ujjayi, Exhale by the Left Nostril, Inhale by Left Nostril, Exhale by Ujjayi, Inhale by Ujjayi, Exhale by Right Nostril, Inhale by Right Nostril, and  Exhale by Ujjayi.  These 4 breaths make one cycles, and to be of any value, a minimum of 4 cycles or 16 breaths is needed.              

NADI SHODHANA:  This is a Pranayama where no ujjayi should ever be used.  Inhale by the Left Nostril, Exhale by the Right Nostril, Inhale by the Right Nostril, Exhale by the Left Nostril. 
     
      It is to be noted that a Pranayama can have KUMBHAKA: either after Inhalation (called ANTAH KUMBHAKA) or after Exhalation (called BAHYA KUMBHAKA)                 

SAMA VRITHI:  Sama Vrithi is a Pranayama imperatively practiced in NADI SHODHANA.  In this Pranayama, while following       the technique of Nadi Shodhana, the time allotted to Puraka, Antah Kumbhaka, Rechaka and Bahya Kumbhaka should be the same.  For eg. Puraka = Antah Kumbhaka =   Rechaka = Bahya Kumbhaka = 5".
SURYA BHEDHANA:  Once again, this Pranayama should be done only in Nadi Shodhana.  Here, the Puraka, Antah Kumbhaka and Rechaka would have a proportional time measure.  The Antah Kumbhaka should be 4 times the measure of Puraka, while that of Rechaka should be of twice the measure of Puraka.  To cite an example: Puraka = say 8", the Antah Kumbhaka = 32" while the Rechaka = 16".

           It goes without saying that a Practice session has to have a Pranayama at the beginning and one at the end, and  a minimum of 12 breaths in each.

1.     UJJAYI ANULOMA or SHITHALI are the Pranayama that is to be introduced at the start of any Practice Session.  Ujjayi Anuloma is more congenial in Autumn and Winter, whereas Shithali is better suited to Spring and Summer.  Ujjayi Anuloma removes weariness coming from excess of mental or physical work, sentimental or emotional shock, fatigue coming from improper digestion in the small intestines leading to unwholesome assimilation.  It also stabilises the mental state.  Moreover, it has the possibility of providing and maintaining continuity in the mental states obtained in different Sessions.
      SHITHALI is more a Pranayama that establishes the digestion, maintaining an `acide-base balance'.  It soothes the sense perception, has a tendency to remove the weariness of the sense organs.

      If ANTAH KUMBHAKA is more complementary to Ujjayi Anuloma, Shithali goes generally well with Bahya Kumbhaka.  In Ujjayi Anuloma, the duration of Kumbhaka should not exceed half the time of Puraka, while in Shithali, either Antah Kumbhaka or Bahya Kumbhaka should not exceed 5".

      The specificity of the 2 Pranayama is that they can be given at the beginning and or at the end of a Session.

2     UJJAYI VILOMA is a Pranayama, acting more on the nervous system, even though the practitioner finds relief in his mental state.  It soothes the nervous irritations, or excitements coming mainly from emotional, affective or sentimental overcharge in one's life.  Its action is very fast, so much so, it should be practised for a short duration say, for a continuous period of 15 days, followed by Ujjayi Anuloma which stabilises the results obtained through Ujjayi Viloma.  As the technical word Viloma indicates, the `movement' of the mind in this Pranayama is transcendental but `intensified', it is not advisable to practice Ujjayi Viloma at the end of a session, if the practitioner is to have a social life immediately after his practice.  Care should be taken in not introducing Ujjayi Viloma in case of mental depression, or in depressive tendencies.  Ujjayi Anuloma is the Pranayama for all sorts of mental depressions.
      UJJAYI PRATHILOMA acts both on the nervous systems and on the thought processes So much so, it removes all nervous excitement, bringing back to normalcy the nervous impulses, removes the interferences of superficial thought processes thereby providing a clear mental space.  We can say, that Ujjayi Prathiloma suits to those who live under such extreme emotional stress that they are unable to forget it, neither are they able to do anything else.  Once again this Pranayama is to be practised for 2 weeks, replaced by Ujjayi Anuloma.  It is to be remembered that Ujjayi Prathiloma should be practised for a minimum of 16 breaths.  It works very well in the beginning of a session.  If practiced late in the evening, it induces sleep.  If this Pranayama is introduced, care should be taken to see that Ujjayi Anuloma finds its place in the end of the session. This Pranayama is very suitable to get oneself free from the after affect of emotional shocks.

      While Bahya Kumbhaka is more suitable to Viloma, no Kumbhaka is advisable in Prathiloma.
     
As for NADI SHODHANA, it is always a Pranayama of the end of the session.  For convenient practice of Nadi Shodhana, one should have had some practice of Ujjayi Anuloma, Sarvanga Asana, and if possible Shirsha Asana. The action of this Pranayama, without Kumbhaka, is not so much on the biological changes in the body.  Its action is more on the clarity of sense perception, removal of sense confusions, attentiveness of the mind.  It should not be practiced when there is nervous irritability, emotional shock, or fear of spiritual sentiments, particularly  in those who do not believe in the value of a Divine Support, or where there is excess of fatigue.  Suitable Pranayama should be practiced at first to improve one's condition before working on Nadi Shodhana.  It is always conceivable to have done either Badha Kona Asana or Maha Mudra or Paschimathana Asana as the last Asana before doing Nadi Shodhana.

3.    NADI SHODHANA with Bahya Kumbhaka influences more the mental plane.  When we talk of mental plane, we talk of the emotions (ANUBHAAVA) and sentiments (STHAAYI BHAVA), having their physical or physiological response.  A disturbed mind, is the mind whose natural functions are overtaken by emotions or sentiments.  As long as these persist, mind will not be clarified, and without a clear mind (MANASSHUDHI) it is not possible to have an insight.

      Nadi Shodhana with Bahya Kumbhaka breaks the link between the emotions, sentiments and their physiological response.  So its action is more on the interrelation between the physical mode of emotions, and the emotional or sentimental impulse.  It goes without saying that this Pranayama comes in the end of a session, that the duration of Bahya Kumbhaka should not exceed on fourth the time of Puraka, that the conditions mentioned for Nadi Shodhana (without Kumbhaka) apply here as well.
     
      SURYA BHEDHANA in view of the important Kumbhaka it has, can be practised only when one has the physical and mental capacity and capability to assume the Kumbhaka.  Here we come to some of the important Pranayama of Yoga.  The technique clearly shows that this Pranayama outwits the physiological basis of the respiratory system.  Yet, when well practised, does not alter the O¨-CO¨ relations, and thus does not create any adverse reaction in the chemical imbalance in the body.  Moreover this Pranayama has the possibility of maintaining the Alpha Waves at will.  If the great Yoga Masters relayed on Surya Bhedhana, it should have been because they found that it works at the root of our emotions.  A regular practice of this Pranayama provides a proper control of the emotional activities of the mind.  This needs ample preparation and constant practice of Mudras like the Viparitha Karani, Maha Mudra, Ashvini Mudra and Asanas like Badha Kona Asana, Ardha Matsyendra Asana etc.  That is to say, those that have the centre of action at the root of our emotional response -- the Naval (NAABHI).  To obtain good results, this Pranayama is to be practiced sitting, facing East.

4.    For any spiritual quest, one has to purify the mind, in a way as to free it from sentiments, that are against those of the Creator or God.  At the same time, the Home of the Soul, the Heart (HRUDAYA) should be cleared of all emotions, except those that are Divine.  This can be done only if the  outward tendencies of the sense perceptions revert towards Inward Insight (ATMA AVALOKANA).  Since the Mind follows the senses, the sentiments follow the mind, the emotions follow the sentiments, PRANA follows the emotions, and the Soul (ATMA) follows Prana, we have to work in such a way as to reverse these outward tendencies.  That is to say, as long as the sense perceptions do not look Inward, it would not be possible to bring back the Prana, the Mind and Soul into the Heart.  This is the essential role of the Pranayama of the 4th Category.                 
     
All the Pranayama under this heading belong to principle of Nadi Shodhana. They are always to be practised at the end of a session.  Further, they are to be followed by Nadi Shodhana with Concentration on HRUDAYA.  The practice session containing Pranayama of this category should contain Asanas like Matsya Asana, Bhujanga Asana, Dhanura Asana, Sarvanga Asana, Shirsha asana, Ardha Matsyendra Asana, Badha Kona Asana, Paschimathana Asana. Moreover, the number of breaths used in all the Asanas and Mudras put together should be inferior to the number of breaths of all the Pranayama finding their place  in the same Session. All the Pranayama of this series should be done facing East.
     
      According to Hindu Tradition, the Pranayama under this category should be SAGARBHA (= Conceivable).  That is to say, during the practice of these Pranayama, the image in the Mental Space should be that of God, or a Divine Object of Contemplation, and there should be silent muttering of God's name (or a Mantra).  Non believers in God, or those not having conviction in such an entity should adopt appropriate means.  They can use a non-physical object like an unique Star, a Horizon Point or the Dark Hallow of the Early Morning Rising Sun.  In any case, the object in the mind should be beyond the Time-Space Reality.

      The SAMAVRITHI, to be effective should have a minimum of duration of 8 sec. at each phase (or 32 secs for one breath), and it is always practised in Nadi Shodhana.  This Pranayama works at the base of our Verbal Expressions.  This, in the Manifested State (VYAKTHA) is located in the Perineum (MULA), while at the Unmanifested state (AVYAKTHA) it is situated in NAABHI, considered as the Link between the Creator and Man. From the Manifested Sound Expression, the Shabda (the sound) assumes `colour' through the emotions, which find their root at Naabhi.  (It is to be noted that the SHIRSHA or the fontanelle becomes the link between Man and the Creator, in his transcendental path).  So much so, Naabhi has a dual role:  That of linking the creator with man, and that of `shading' the manifested sound through emotions.  This manifest sound, is what is at the basis of expression--spoken or otherwise, and when used through words, becomes language or as the Indian Psychology calls ALAMKARA (= Aesthetic Language).  All our reactions -- sentimental or emotional --  raise from the interactions or the disequilibrium amongst these various localisations.  As long as a perfect balance is not acquired between these, man is subject to emotional disturbances and they will not provide him Peace of Mind (CHITHA SHANTI).  SAMAVRITHI PRANAYAMA acts in this direction.  Its main centre of action is at Naabhi, and its aim is to delay the emotional activities, a delay sufficient for the mind not to follow the emotions.  The actions of this Pranayama is not felt immediately, but in our daily life.
     
      It is imperative to have had long practice of the Pranayama of the 3rd Category, before putting into practice those indicated in this last category.  Moreover, this Pranayama is efficacious only if the mind is in concentration with some Vital Points like Naasagra, Kanta, Hrudaya, Kurma Nadi, Naabhi.  The Points to be chosen depends on the psychological constitution and emotional set up of the student.  This Pranayama has a good complementary if Ujjayi Anuloma 16 breaths is introduced at the beginning of a session.  Similarly, Samavrithi is not to be practiced when one is under an emotional stress or in a depressive mood.  Also, it is advisable not to practice this Pranayama when one is not used to Concentrate on Vital Points.  The above mentioned actions of this Pranayama reside mainly on the  Concentration Points introduced (SAGARBHA PRANAYAMA).  If practiced as a respiratory exercise, it has every chance of bringing to surface emotions with their physiological response. The importance of this Pranayama in Yoga is to be measured from the fact that it is one the very few Pranayama with Kumbhaka as long as Rechaka  that the Yogic Literature describe. 

      We now come to the Pranayama that has already been reviewed under the 3rd Category (SURYA BHEDHANA). Technically speaking, this Pranayama is the same as the one we studied before.  But in this category the aim is to render Prana its natural and original function of being in close association with ATMA, and to show ATMA the path of the Supreme soul (PARAMATHMA) or the Creator.  (It is here that we understand the meaning of Prana Aayama: extending Prana towards the Creator).  In this Surya Bhedhana, concentration is an essential factor. The concentration during Puraka (Inhalation) is used in such a way as to centralise all the mental faculties including the sensorial ones in HRUDAYA, to stabilise them in HRUDAYA during Antah Kumbhaka, so that cleared of all influences with regard to the external world, the mind reflects  itself, during Rechaka, its Original Nature of revealing the qualities of Atma.
     
      This Pranayama is also called ABHYANTARA VRITHI (or the Inner Movement), because the Sense and the Mental activities instead of going outward, turn inwards.  In this Pranayama, the Concentration Points applied are: Naasagra, Bhrumadhya, Lalaata, Kanta, Kurma Nadi and Hrudaya.
     
      Yet another Pranayama, which should be practised facing East.  The effect of this Pranayama, is increased if followed by a Prayer.  It would not be a repetition, if it is said that a Practice Session having this Pranayama should have only the Asanas and Mudra as is indicated under Sama Vrithi.  Moreover, the only occasion when Nadi Shodhana, can be introduced as a Pranayama at the beginning of the session, is when Surya Bhedhana as mentioned here finds its place in the end of the session, and the Asanas and Mudra are those that are mentioned under Sama Vrithi.

      Here are but some indications for the application of Pranayama, and it is beyond doubt that if properly used, under the keen observation and guidance of a Teacher, any student of Yoga will find the real value and benefit that Yoga Stands for.

---------------------------------

For more on Pranayama take a look at Claudia's blog where she is conducting a book club on Gregor's Maehle's Pranayama book. 
Pranayama The Breath Of Yoga, by Gregor Maehle.


I enjoyed the book but as with so many of the books on pranayama one can end up spending more time reading the book than actually practicing it, perhaps never getting around to actually practicing at all (this should not suggest that I support the overused "5% theory 95% practice" idea, my least favourite quote in yoga but rather theory and practice, hand in hand skipping through the daisy's). Claudia's series of posts might help to avoid that and offer a way into the text.

While reading the book and exploring the subject in more depth you might like to try the approach to practice below. This is a translation of Krishnamacharya's basic 'Life Saving practice' taught to the director of the movie on Krishnamacharya, Der Atmende Gott (The Breathing God) by  the author of the article above, Krihnmacharya's son, T.K. Sribhashyam. This was presented in the sleeve cover to the DVD. It beings and ends with simple pranayama and covers the keys some asana one would hope to include in each asana practice, paschimottanasana, mahamudra, Sarvangasana, Sirsasana.

If you have an Ashtanga practice you could perhaps just add the pranayama sections on at the beginning and end of your practice. 

Here are the practice sheets from my earlier post ( Thank you again to Chiara for the translation of her German edition).
Pimping up Krishnamacharya's Life saving yoga sequence plus 8mm vintage video app for iPhone.



13 comments:

  1. I respect the style of your blog posts, this blog has so much good information in it that i could spend all day reading it.. Keeps me wishing to learn more. I will be sure to follow every day!

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  2. This is a real gem of a resource Grimmly, thank you for sharing it! I currently do a very simple nadi shodana as part of my closing sequence, before uthpluthi. 5 rounds for each nostril, free breathing, no kumbhakas. I find it really calming and plan on working it up to 10 breaths. I want to build on this and gradually incorporate more pranayama in my practice routine but there is - as you just posted about - the question of finding enough time. Thank you again for this!

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  3. Was quite excited when I saw this article D, on one level very clear and straight forward as an approach to beginning practice, but so much here for second and third reading and more.
    Really do feel that pranayama informs the practice, the quality of the breath in asana becomes transformed.

    Must be nice in Mysore now your settled with nothing else to really worry about other than your practice.....although no doubt as you get to know people and your way around the days can easily get filled up.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Grimmly,

    A question that has been bothering me regarding pranayama. To hold the bandhas, or not? When I asked Ramaswami in his workshop, he emphatically said "NO", there is enough to have to focus on in the breathing without also worrying about bandhas. But then Williams/Swenson/Paradise said of course, hold your bandhas, and they used jalandara bandha for all of the exhales.

    Not sure what John Scott thinks (should have asked) but I suspect that he would at least say that we should always hold moola banhda.

    I guess the question is also, what feels right? To me it feels somewhere in between, hold moola bandha gently, but don't obsess over it, and try (generally) not to hold or grasp the body too much when doing pranayama.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Really Ramaswami said that? I seem to remember him quoting Krishnamacharya as saying something along the lines of "pranayama without bandhas...what's the point". Will check his texts/newsletters/my notes etc and get back ton you on this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. maybe because it was not a teacher training, just a simple workshop with possible beginners, he said "to keep it as simple as possible".
    now that i look back on my notes, i see that he did say to hold bandhas in nadi sodhana and kapalabati.
    ok, sorry, i was wrong! he does say to engage the bandhas in pranayama on the hold after the exhale. that is a relief to read, it feels much better to do it that way. he did emphasize to hold them mainly on the exhale, not on the inhale, as the stomach/lungs needs to be empty of breath to hold the bandhas.
    sorry to confuse!! it is good that your posts make me think of these things and sort it out in my head.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello there,
    well thank you for this very nice article !
    i have a question : in anuloma and viloma should we practice full inhalation and full exhalation ? and also does the length of inhalation and exhalation has to be equal ?
    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  8. Obobinde, when I practice them before my asana practice I keep the length of inhalation and exhalation equal and yes breath fully ( I consider breathing fully an essential aspect of pranayama practice and indeed, recently Asana practice).

    This is tricky of course inhalation is usually ( but not always) easier to lengthen than exhalation, however, the throat constriction in Ujjayi gives some control allowing us to even the inhalation and exhalation out. The tricky one is inhaling Ujjayi exhaling through one nostril without Ujjayi. I use my throat constriction to breath in as slowly as possible, long thin slow inhalation but on the exhalation i let the air drop out of my nostril. I'm not forcing it out but letting my chest drop, widening the nostril to allow the air to come out more freely. i find this evens it up.

    I'm adding a couple of extra comments quoting Krishnamacharya from Yoga Makaranda 2 on these pranayama's below

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. UJJAYI - ANULOMA
      Sit in one of the asanas, padmasana, siddhasana in the case of recluse. There should be chin lock, and both the arms stretched with the palms on the knees. The palms should be open and the fingers together. The elbows should not be bent.
      Inhalation: Breath is slowly and evenly drawn in through both nostrils, with a rubbing sensation in the throat. With practise, the rubbing sensation will be felt as low down as the diaphragm.
      Holding in: The breath is held by constricting the throat and not by closing the nostrils by the fingers. The arms should continue to remain stretched.
      Exhaling: right hand is now brought to the nose with the fingers in Mrigi Mudra and exhalation regulated, in the first round through the right nostril, in the next through the left nostril and so on alternately. The breathing out should be as slowly and as evenly as possible. After exhalation is completed the right arm is brought back to its original position of being stretched with the palm on the knee-cap.
      In the initial stage of this pranayama as well as other pranayamas, BAHYA KUMBHAKAM or holding out of breath need not be practised. It is enough if the periods of breathing in, holding in the breath and breathing out are made of equal duration. After sufficient ease of operation has been attained in practising pranayama with only these three stages, the fourth or BAHYA kumbhakam stage may be cautiously attempted.
      As already mentioned this pranayama is to be done with the three bandhas - JALANDHARABANDHAM, MULABANDHAM and UDDIYANABANDHAM. Thus during the inhalation stage there is only on Bandham (jalandhara bandham), during the retention two (jalandhara bandham and mula bandham established during the previous exhalations), and during the exhalation stage all the three bandhas.
      Krishnamacharya Yoga makaranda ( part II) p 91

      Delete
    2. UJJAYI - VILOMA.
      This is a counter process to the ANULOMA pranayama, and should be practised immediately after anuloma pranayama. Here breathing-in is done through alternate nostrils, and breathing out through both nostrils, through throat and with rubbing sensation in the throat. In this process phlegm is brought out, and this should be spit out. The practice of anuloma and viloma ujjayi, cleans up the breathing passages, and the air vessels. As far as asana, mudra etc. are concerned the remarks made about anuloma ujjayi are equally applicable here.

      PRATILOMA UJJAYI
      This combines both anuloma and viloma ujjayi pranayama. Before practising this, however, the following preliminary exercise should be done to clear the nasal and throat passages. PRELIMINARY EXERCISE. Inhale through both nostrils open, mouth closed, retain and exhale through one of the nostrils, say the right, holding the nostrils in mrigi mudra. Repeat this process ten times always breathing in through the throat, retain and breathe out through the same nostril, the right. Now repeat ten times, breathing in through the throat, retaining and breathing out through the left nostril.

      PRATILOMA UJJAYI proper: Technique: Sit in a proper asana.

      1. Inhale through throat, retain and exhale through right nostril. 2. Inhale through right nostril, retain and exhale through throat. 3. Inhale through throat, retain and exhale through left nostril. Inhale through left nostril, retain and exhale through throat. The above four steps together form one round of pranayama. The above describes the pranayama with only antar kumbhakam. After this type has been practised for some time and proficiency attained, the pranayama should be practised with only bahya kumbhakam but without antar kumbhakam. Bahya kumbhakam will be after the exhalation. When practice has sufficiently progressed, the pranayama can be done with both antar and bahya kumbhakam.
      The periods of kumbhakam should not be so long as to affect the normal slow, even and long and thin breathing in and breathing out. The periods of inhaling and exhaling should be as long as possible. The period of bhaya kumbhakam should be restricted to one-third the period of antar kumbhakam. It has been stated earlier that in the beginning stages the period of antar kumbhakam should not exceed six seconds. Thus in the beginning bahya kumbhakam should not exceed two seconds.
      This pranayama should not be practiced without first mastering the Bandhas. Jalandhara bandha will not be possible if the region of the throat is fatty. This fat should first be reduced by practising the appropriate asanas.
      Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda (Part II) p 91-92

      Delete
  9. Grimmly thank you for your thorough answer.

    There is something weird tough : in his letter he advises about viloma : "Its action is very fast, so much so, it should be practised for a short duration say, for a continuous period of 15 days, followed by Ujjayi Anuloma which stabilises the results obtained through Ujjayi Viloma." but before he listed first anuloma then then vilom as the proper order of practise. Is there a mistake ? If not, from where does this inconsistency comes from ? or did i miss something ?
    thank you again

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see what you mean. he seems to be using it here similar to a kapalabhati, vigorous, energising, perhaps it makes sense before practice. just goes to show that there as many ways to approach these pranayama as there are ways to approach asana.

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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