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Sit on Padmasana or Siddhasana in your meditation room, before the picture of your Ishta Devata (guiding deity). Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Draw in the air very, very slowly through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril also with little and ring fingers of the right hand. Retain the air as long as you can comfortably do. Then exhale very, very slowly through the nostril after removing the thumb. Now half the process is over. Then draw air through the right nostril. Retain the air as before and exhale it very, very slowly through the left nostril. All these six processes constitute one Pranayama. Do 20 in the morning and 20 in the evening. Gradually increase the number. Have a Bhava (mental attitude) that all the Daivi Sampat (divine qualities), e.g., mercy, love, forgiveness, Santi, joy, etc., are entering into your system along with the inspired air and all Asuri Sampat (devilish qualities) such as lust, anger, greed, etc., are being thrown out along with the expired air. Repeat OM or Gayatri mentally during Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka. Hard-working Sadhakas can do 320 Kumbhakas daily in four sittings at the rate of 80 in each sitting.
Kapalabhati can also be done during walking. Those who are very busy can practise the above Pranayama during their morning and evening walks. It is like killing two birds with one stone. You will find it very pleasant to practise Pranayama while walking in an open place, when delightful gentle breeze is blowing. You will be invigorated and innervated quickly to a considerable degree. Practise, feel and realise the marked, beneficial influence of this kind of Pranayama. Those who walk briskly, repeating OM mentally or verbally do practise natural Pranayama without any effort.
Q. Is it dangerous to practise Pranayama without the assistance of a Guru (Teacher)?
A. People are unnecessarily alarmed. You can practise ordinary Pranayama exercises without the help of a Guru. A Guru is necessary if you want to practise Kumbhaka or retention of breath for long time and unite Apana with Prana. The books written by realised Yogins can guide you if you are not able to get a Guru. But it is better to have a Guru by your side or you can get the lessons from him and practise them at home. You can keep regular correspondence with him. You can retain the breath from 1/2 to 1 or 2 minutes without any difficulty or danger. If you cannot get a realised Yogi, you can approach senior students of Yoga. They also can help you.
26. You must find out for yourself according to your health and constitution what sort of dietetic regulation will suit and what particular Pranayama will exactly help you. Then only you can safely proceed with your Sadhana. First read all the instructions of the various exercises given in this book from the beginning to the end. Clearly understand the technique. If you have any doubts, just ask any Yogic student to demonstrate and then practise it. This is the safest method. You should not select any one of the exercise at random and begin to practise it in a wrong way.
49. Once again I will tell you that Asana, Pranayama, Japa, Dhyana, Brahmacharya, Satsanga, solitude, Mouna, Nishkama Karma are all absolutely necessary for spiritual attainments. One can hardly obtain perfection in Raja Yoga without Hatha Yoga. At the end of Kumbhaka you should withdraw the mind from all the objects. By gradual practice you will be established in Raja Yoga.