3.4) Breath and Pranayama

Abhyasa Ashram
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Traditional Yoga (11 courses, 74,000+ enrollments)
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Lecture description

Breath or pranayama practices are a bridge between body and mind, preparing one for meditation itself.

Learn more from the full course

Summary of Traditional Antar (Inner) Yoga Practices

Comprehensive review of Self-awareness, Meditation, and Contemplation

10:22:03 of on-demand video • Updated December 2020

  • A greater understanding of the subtler, inner/antar traditional goals of Yoga.
  • Have a solid foundation in traditional antar/inner yoga practices, not just modern exercise postures.
English [Auto] OK. Now let's talk briefly about the breathing part of the sequence remember that we're talking about systematic meditation which is part 3 of the poor four parts we have in the summary of practices. And we're speaking of systematic practice having to do with preparation stretches relaxation then breathing and then meditation. And so the part we're talking about now is the breathing we've already talked about simple stretches and relaxation as well as preparation. And then how that moves into breathing if you have done some form of systematic stretches whether simple stretches or joints and glands stretches you know or more complex yoga asanas and you've done that for a little while. You probably already know. And if not but by experimentation you'll notice for yourself that it feels very very natural to then do some relaxation lay on your back and do relaxation which of course is itself an arsonist. And then it feels very smooth and natural to go into breathing which leads into meditation. A very important point with all of the breathing practices is to remember that ultimately there's one goal of all of the pranayama and breathing practices. It has to do with so the channel which is the subtle energy channel of the subtle spine yogis speak of 72000 energy channels and we don't need to try to find them or know them all. But there's a few of them which are dominant and the central one is the subtle stream called the Schoeman that can be called for convenience sake to let our mind understand the subtle spine. If you look at artists pictures of chakras you see that they have chakras mapped out on a body and then they have a thin pipe something going through it and that is the show the channel but the show the channel does not actually just it's not a separate thing that is piercing through objects called chocker. Rather it is the subtle energy that is the source of the chakras and the chakras are highway intersection spokes so to speak of energy flowing. So the thing was the the channel is we want it to be functioning in a centered balanced way. It's in our common language which someone will say I'm feeling off center today I need to be balanced and energetically what we're talking about is shown to channel and the Left and Right are it. And pingala energy. And if those are centered then the mind wants to do nothing other than do meditation. Once the Shum is opened or awakened there's something a phenomenon that has happened that happens that has been called Sanjeeda which is the wedding of the sun and the moon. It's the wedding of it and paying and paying it. And pingala It's the wedding of left and right and then the energy flows in a centered kind of way. Now the easiest way to notice this physically in the body is that the two nostrils are flowing freely left nostril is flowing right nostril is up flowing and they're both even and you can feel a sense of calmness in your mind and throughout your body and this is an indication that now the mind really does want to go anywhere that wants to be quiet and go inside. And if that if it's not there if that balance is not there you can probably notice that your mind is disturbed It's it's thinking it's worrying it's jabbering about daily life and problem solving and and a funny thing happens when we've talked before about our friend the circle chart and there's a simple thing that can be seen on here. The body is here and the mind is here and the breath sort of sits even in the picture right in the middle while breath is a connector so to speak between the body and the mind. And if the breath is smooth and so some is awakened or centered then the body feels calm in the end the conscious mind feels calm and quiet and it's ready to do meditation so it sits right in the middle. And that's what we're trying to do. Without going into great detail on these. The first part here in our breathing section on the summary of practices which you have in your hand and you're looking at with me is breath awareness and a removal of irregularities. Look at the resources. Download it and read through that. Become familiar with this notion of irregularities irregularities is jerkiness and doing things like this. And sometimes you notice the habit of holding your breath where you inhale and you hold your breath and you release it like that or at the end of the isolation you just stop breathing. Each one of these kind of moves causes a jolt a jerk to go through your central nervous system into your brain. Physiologically this happens it creates stress when you have an emergency situation what's called fight or flight response. This is the person. This is the purpose of chest breathing and the clavicles. So if you have an emergency whatever it is in the old days it was the tiger in the forest chasing you. Now it's it's activities in our work environment where something is tense in the moment or driving your car down the road and somebody pulls in front of you. And in these moments the the breathing comes to the chest and the clavicles and we draw more air in. It's called fight or flight. I learned this from watching deer. I was walking at images sonly Ramas Institute in Pennsylvania I was walking in the woods one day and there was a field over there and I rounded a curve a corner of trees and I found myself face to face with a little family of Dear Father Dear Mother dear and a couple little baby deers. And I just stopped and they stopped and their ears went up all together like this and they were looking at me and I was looking at them. And then after it seemed like a long time it was probably. Truthfully it was probably about 30 seconds. And then what I noticed was all of the ears their ears all in unison they all their ears went down their heads went down and they went back to eating grass. They completely let go of the perceived threat. They saw me thought I might be a threat. They didn't run fight or flight. They didn't come and fight me. But then they sensed that there was no danger and they went back to eating grass. What we do because of our advanced brains and all. We carry it with us. We keep the past in the present. And so something happens to us. The emergency passes and we're holding onto it. And the fact is we're still chest breathing and we're using our clavicles because there was an emergency like the deer were ready. They were tight like this. They were ready to run away into the forest if they thought I was a threat. And that's the flight part. And then they weren't going to fight me. But this is they call fight or flight. So this is why we have this kind of it's reserve this kind of breath is for reserve energy in an emergency. Nothing wrong with it. It's what it's there for. But most of our calm breathing most of the time ought to be with the diaphragm down here not up here. And so what we're wanting to do with meditation is to be doing diaphragmatic breathing without using the chest and without using the clavicles and have the breath become balance so sure. So Schumann is awakened. And the first part of this is that look at your sheet is breath awareness then is diaphragmatic breathing and even breathing. The next one on there speaks of two to one breathing. This is a specific practice after you've established comfortable diaphragmatic breathing and you've eliminated jerkiness and pauses. When you've done that then what comes next is 12:58 breathing. And this simply means allowing your exhalation to become longer than your inhalation even breathing is the it comes in and it goes out evenly. One way to do this initially until you get the feel of it we'll talk more about it later but is to simply counter with it. And so you count for example your account in your mind inhale with a count of say three or four and exhale with a count of twice that six or eight. So the acceleration is twice as long. And even if it's only a little bit longer than the inhalation you'll discover for yourself that there is a calming effect that happens with that slow exhalation. And don't don't bring your breath in in a jerky kind of way so it's not as just a gentle inhalation and a gentle exhalation. That's longer than the inhalation. Practice with it to do on breathing the complete breath is an energizing breath. That is an inhalation down here. And inhalation here and an inhalation in the chest and clavicles will do more of that later. But it's an energizing breathing some of the energizing breathings are done in preparation for the show the awakening and are very very beneficial. Oddny Saraa is is a breathing practice that is done emphasizing the acceleration it starts and ends at the muscles just above the of Gong in the lower abdomen. It's not up in the it's not up in the higher part. It's not an abdominal lift. This is the thing that often gets confused. Take a look again and the resources there's some pretty clearly written descriptions of how this works. And when may do more of that later and in the last section on the summary of practices is Ujar which is a kind of breathing with sound. BRAAM Murray is the big Kabbala Bhatti is a vigorous breathing practice by streaker is a vigorous breathing practice and so often you do some vigorous breathing practices then you do. Nadi showed an alternate now still breathing with his diet which is done either with the fingers and thumb like this or done with a mind where you are intentionally breathing in one nostril and then the other nostril and it's called alternate nostril breathing and it has the effect of awakening sition. And then finally the thing that that does that. And then finally the thing that really opens this show is simple breath awareness of the feel of the touch of the air at the nostrils coming and going and very gently it opens and leads you right into meditation.