Sunday, January 22, 2012
PATANJALI YOGA SUTRAS - V.2.49 - What is Praanaayaama?
gathi vichhhedah praanayaamah
Ø thasmin = upon that (perfection of meditation posture)
Ø sathi = being accomplished
Ø shvaasa = inhalation
Ø prasvaasayoh = exhalation
Ø gathi = of the uncontrolled movements
Ø vicchhedah = slowing, softening or braking of the force behind
Ø praanaayaamah = expansion of prana, regulation of breath
Praanaayaama is the fourth step on the ladder of Ashtaanga Yoga.
Patanjali says very clearly that the Sadhaka must practice aasana siddhi, the third step of Yoga, and become stable and comfortable in his aasana – and then practice Praanaayaama.
This means – sit in your favourite aasana, preferably at your favourite place suitable for it, achieve asana comfort and stability and start your Praanaayaama.
Most Sadhakas perform various aasanas for some time, and then, relax and sit in their favourite aasana for performing Praanaayaama. This is normal.
But, beyond a certain level of practice, sadhakas will get into the requisite comfort and stability levels within moments of sitting in their aasana and can start their praanaayaama practices immediately.
Patanjali givers a simple definition for Praanaayaama. Sadhaka must regulate the path of inhalation (svaasah) and exhalation (Prasvaasah) both.
When we watch with some care, we will find that we are breathing in, with both nostrils simultaneously and then, we are breathing out with both nostrils, again simultaneously. For a very short period, the air is retained inside lungs before the exhalation process happens. Modern science explains well, what happens to inhaled air inside us and how exhalation happens.
With some more care, we can find, that the inhalation happens through one nostril a little more and with another nostril a little less for some time. Thereafter, the two nostrils interchange this. The one which inhaled less earlier will inhale more now and the other one will inhale less. A similar phenomenon can be noticed in exhalation as well. This also is a cause of unsettlement of the body and mind.
Praanaayaama essentially gives us control over this movement of Praana through Air into and outside of us in a more methodical, stable way. After some amount of Paaraayaama practice – we can find that both nostrils breath in approximately equal amount of air and exhale equal amounts similarly, giving the mind and body much more stability than earlier.
Modern science talks of assimilating oxygen and pushing out the carbon dioxide etc. This also is regulated much more efficiently through Praanaayaama.
But, Yoga science talks of Praana or Life force, which is going in and out of us, through the inhalation and exhalation process. It is invisible and not under our normal, conscious control. But, Praanaayaama processes seek to obtain some degree of control over this life force into us.
There are various methods of Praanaayaama – which we shall examine in next Post.
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