“Dahyante dhamayamananam, dhatunam hi yatha malaha, tatha indriyanam dahyante, doshaha pranasga nigrahat.”
“By heating gold or silver metal in a cupola, all the slag of the metal could be removed out as a scum; similarly by the practice of Pranayama, one can clear all the toxins in the body.”
Sukhpurvaka, or Nadishodhana, Pranayama is the only Pranayama to maintain equilibrium in the catabolic & anabolic processes in the body and for purifying the Nadis (blood vessels). Purification of the Nadis gives firmness and lightness to the complete constitution. By practice of Sukhpurvaka Pranayama, you consciously regulate the flow of the breath. Most of the time, one or the other nostril is more dominant and this disturbs the flow of the energy.
By doing this Pranayama, the mind is used directly to regulate the breath and the energy flow, which is more subtle than the physical breath. All the five systems of our body (the nervous, circulatory, respiratory, alimentary, and genito-urinary), work properly, as a result of regular deep breathing. This is the real key to self-regulating your own energy system, whether used for meditation or for improving one’s physical health. It is also an important part of self-healing.
Sit in any comfortable and balanced sitting posture with the spine, head, and neck straight. The shoulders are fully relaxed, and the weight of the body should be centered over the base of the spine. The pelvic, abdominal, and navel regions are fully expanded and relaxed, which free the diaphragm to move up and down. This balanced sitting posture also allows the chest to expand, so that the lungs can inflate and deflate with the motion of the diaphragm.
Rest the left hand on the left knee in Gyan Mudra posture. (Join the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb, while keeping the other fingers loose). Bring the right palm of the right hand in front of the face. Bend the first two fingers at the root of the thumb inside; use the right thumb for closing the right side of the nostril; and the last two fingers, i.e. ring finger and little finger for closing the left side of the nostril. Do not use the index finger for closing the nostril because the magnetic current from the finger is polluted.
FIRST STEP (Single Nostril)
By closing right: INHALE: left (OM mentally 5 times) EXHALE: left (OM mentally 10 times). The proportion is 1:2. Repeat the exercise 15-20 rounds. Do the same with the other nostril.
By closing left: INHALE: right (OM mentally 5 times) EXHALE: right (OM mentally 10 times). Repeat for 15 to 20 rounds.
This is one round. Do 15 to 20 times. Practice this exercise for 15 days and then slowly increase the proportion to 6 seconds inhalation and 12 seconds exhalation. Do within your capacity and never overdo.
The purpose of inhaling and exhaling, through one nostril, is to correct the flow of the breath. Do not make any sound during inhalation. In exhalation, try to expel as much as possible. It will remove carbon dioxide from the lungs.
SECOND STEP (Single Nostril with Retention)
By closing right: INHALE: left (OM mentally 5 times) HOLD: by closing both the nostrils (OM mentally 5 times) EXHALE: left (OM mentally 10 times). Repeat the exercise 15-20 rounds. Do the same with the other nostril.
By closing left: INHALE: right, (OM mentally 5 times) HOLD: by closing both the nostrils (OM mentally 5 times) EXHALE: right (OM mentally 10 times). Repeat for 15 to 20 rounds.
This is one round. The proportion is 1:1:2. Do 15 to 20 times:
Practice this exercise for 15 days to a month and then slowly increase the proportion to 6 seconds inhalation, 6 retention and 12 seconds exhalation. Do within your capacity and never overdo.
THIRD STEP (Alternate Nostril Breath)
By closing right: INHALE: left (OM mentally 6 times), by closing left: EXHALE: right (OM mentally 12 times), INHALE: right (OM mentally 6 times), EXHALE: left (OM mentally 12 times).
This is one round. Do 15 to 20 rounds. The proportion is 1:2.
Once you are comfortable with this ratio, and then increase to 7 and 14 seconds, and later to 8 and 16 seconds. You should practice this exercise for 2-3 months before increasing to 8 to 16 seconds. These increases must be undertaken slowly. Stay at the old level, until it is effortless, before proceeding to the next step.
FOURTH STEP (Alternate Nostril Breath with Retention)
By closing right: INHALE: left (OM mentally 8 times) HOLD: by closing both the nostrils (OM mentally 8 times), by closing left: EXHALE: right (OM mentally 16 times). This is half round.
Without removing the thumb from the left: INHALE: right (OM mentally 8 times), HOLD: by closing both the nostrils (OM mentally 8 times), by closing right: EXHALE: Left (OM mentally 16 times).
This is one full round. Practice 15-20 rounds daily. The proportion is 1:1:2. The ideal ratio between inhalation, retention, and exhalation should be 1:4:2.
After a month of practice of this Pranayama, gradually lengthen your retention and increase it up to 1:2:2 ratio (8:16:16). The minimum starting proportion is four seconds inhalation, eight seconds retention, and eight seconds exhalation. Beginners are advised to follow 1:2:2 ratios for a few months. When you are able to do 8:16; 16 comfortably, change the ratio to 1:4:2 (8:32:16). It should be eight to twelve months of practice to reach this timing.
Do not try to hurry it.
FIFTH STEP (Full Alternate Breathing with Two Times Retention)
By closing right: INHALE: left (OM mentally 8 times), HOLD: by closing both the nostrils (OM mentally 32 times), by closing left: EXHALE: right, (OM mentally 16 times). HOLD: by closing both the nostrils (OM mentally 16 times). This is half round.
Without removing the thumb from the left: INHALE: right (OM mentally 8 times), HOLD: by closing both the nostrils (OM mentally 32 times), EXHALE: Left (OM mentally 16 times), HOLD: by closing both the nostrils (OM mentally 16 times).
This is one full round. Practice 15-20 rounds daily.
The proportion is 1:4:2:2 (8:32:16:16). The correct ratio between inhalation, retention, and exhalation is 1:4:2:4 (8:32:16:32). Beginners are advised to follow a 1:4:2:2 ratio, for a few months, before taking up the 1:4:2:4 ratio.
Now, your goal is to reach the point where you can comfortably retain your breath for 16: 64: 32: 64. It may take several months or longer to reach this timing. If at any time, during the practice, you notice jerks and tremors in the body, disturbance in the heart beat, or flashes of colored light, then you are increasing the retention ratio too fast, or you have introduced retention before the Nadis were sufficiently purified. If such symptoms keep recurring, then you should immediately curtail the practice and consult an expert teacher.
As you continue to unfold your inner potentials, through this systematic practice of breath retention, you will feel stronger, healthier, and more balanced. During Kumbhaka, there is an increased blood flow into the brain, and simultaneously, the heat is generated in the nervous system, leaving one feeling light, fresh, and peacefully energetic. Kumbhaka makes the senses and mental leanings introspective, and draws them into depths of the soul, as well as concentrates the mind. By practicing respiration process in this manner, one earns a long span of life.
Normally, we breathe in and out 15 to 18 times in a minute. If we take the basis of 15 breaths in a minute – one breath would take 4 seconds for both coming in and going out. If we follow the minimum starting proportion, which advocates a ratio of 2 seconds of breathing in, 8 seconds of holding in, 4 seconds of breathing out, and 8 seconds of holding out for 1 breath, it will total up to 22 seconds for 1 breath. With this technique, we will be taking only 3 breaths in a minute, compared to normal 15 to 18 per minute. Thus, we are saving 12 to 15 breaths in a minute and increasing our life span.
SANSKRIT TERMS OF THE BREATH
Breathing in: Puraka, Holding the breath: Kumbhaka, Exhale: Rechaka
Holding of the breath inside: Antar-Kumbhaka
Holding of the breath outside: Bahya-Kumbhaka
POINTS TO BE REMEMBER
• Begin this Pranayama quite slowly and with ease.
• To increase your capacity, by making the period of retention longer than the exhalation, it may take several months or longer. Do not rush.
• Anyone, who is working up to this count of Pranayama, must observe the principles of the right diet, proper exercise, and keep the body and mind clean; also, be temperate in all things.
• You should hold the breath inside as long as you can do it without suffocation.
• Don’t hold the breath in case of Asthma, high Blood Pressure, Heart Problems, and Epilepsy.
• The first, second, and third steps are safe. These can be done by anybody. No side effects.
• While inhaling, feel all the divine qualities, e.g., mercy, love, forgiveness, Shanti, joy, etc., entering into your system, along with the inspired air – and all devilish qualities, such as lust, anger, greed, etc., being thrown out, along with the expired air.
• Repeat OM or Gayatri mentally during Puraka, Kumbhaka, and Rechaka.
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Dr. Rita Khanna
Dr. Rita Khanna is a well-known name in the field of Yoga and Naturopathy. She was initiated into this discipline over 25 years ago by world famous Swami Adyatmananda of Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh (India).
She believes firmly that Yoga is a scientific process, which helps us to lead a healthy and disease-free life. She is also actively involved in practicing alternative medicines like Naturopathy. Over the years, she has been successfully practicing these therapies and providing succour to several chronic and terminally ill patients through Yoga, Diet and Naturopathy. She is also imparting Yoga Teachers Training.
At present, Dr. Rita Khanna is running a Yoga Studio in Secunderabad (Hyderabad, India).
More posts by this author:
- YOGA FOR ANEMIA
- YOGA REGIMEN FOR THE MONSOON
- YOGA FOR KNEES
- NADIS OR THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
- DHYANA… THE PERFECT MEDITATION