The process by which the práńas in the body are controlled is called práńáyáma. Práńa, apána, samána, udána, vyána, nága, kúrma, krkara, devadatta, and dhanaiṋjaya – the collective name of these ten vital forces is práńáh. If you wish to increase your apperceptive power you must control the práńáh. Through regular practice, the mind will become concentrated. Práńáyáma is meant for sádhakas – it is better for non-sádhakas not to take the risk of injuring themselves by doing práńáyáma.
Práńáyáma is also very beneficial for the physical body. Special práńáyáma practices are prescribed for specific diseases.
No one should practise práńáyáma without the permission of an ácárya.
1) Sádhárańa Práńáyáma An ácárya will teach
2) Sahaja Práńáyáma } A purodhá will teach
3) Visheśa Práńáyáma
Procedure for Sádhárańa Práńáyáma:
Closing the eyes, sit in either siddhásana, padmásana or bhojanásana. Do bhútashuddhi. After doing ásana shuddhi, concentrate your mind on the point that the ácárya will fix. Then, after doing cittashuddhi, ideate on the first syllable of your Iśt́a mantra, press and close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand, and draw in a deep breath through the left nostril. During inhalation, ideate that infinite vital energy is entering the point from the infinite Brahma who is existing all around. After taking a full breath close the left nostril with the middle, ring and little fingers, and, taking the thumb away from the right nostril, slowly let out the air (Ideate that the infinite vital energy is returning from the point to that Infinite Brahma). During exhalation ideate on the remaining syllable of your Iśt́a mantra. When the breath has been fully expelled from the right nostril, inhale as fully as possible again through the right nostril. Afterwards, closing the right nostril with the thumb and removing the fingers, exhale the air through the left nostril. This completes one round.
For the first week, complete three rounds each time. The number is increased by one round every week until seven rounds is reached.
Práńáyáma can be practised up to four times in a day. If a person practising práńáyáma twice daily wishes to practise three times on any particular day, he/she may do so, but the person who practises twice daily must not suddenly increase to four times, because that will result in the body falling sick. Therefore it is advisable at first to do the practise twice daily, increasing it by one round per week. If, however, on any day two times práńáyáma is not completed, then at the end of the week, the number of times missed must be practised in compensation before increasing the number of rounds.
Practitioners of práńáyáma should try to keep themselves away from dust, smoke, bad-smelling environments and excessive labour. It is very helpful to take a sufficient amount of milk products for the first two months following commencement of the practice.
The following práńáyámas are prescribed for specific diseases. An ácárya will teach them. It is forbidden to practise these práńáyámas within an hour before or after the practice of práńáyáma connected with sádhaná. As far as possible it is not advisable for any person to practise more than one kind of práńáyáma.
(1) Vasti kumbhaka: Sit in the ásana given by the ácárya and inhale deeply. Now press the two principal nádiis of the scrotum with the thumbs and the forefingers of both hands and exhale gradually. Practise this seven times.
(2) Shiitalii kumbhaka: Sit in padmásana. After closing both the nostrils and sticking out the tongue, inhale as deeply as possible the cool air of the morning, evening or midnight hours. Keeping the nostrils and mouth closed, hold the breath for eight seconds, then exhale gradually through the nose. Do this eight times continuously. After completion, massage the diseased portion of the body.
(3) Siitkárii kumbhaka: Sit in padmásana. Breathe in through the nose and, closing your nose and mouth, hold the breath for eight seconds. Exhale through the mouth, simultaneously pronouncing “s-s-s” with the tongue.
The practice of shiitalii or siitkári kumbhaka is forbidden for a period of one hour before and after the practice of práńáyáma connected with sádhaná. As far as possible it is not advisable to practise more than one type of práńáyáma.
(4) Karkata Práńáyáma:
(only in the morning and at noon) Before doing práńáyáma, fix the mind on the centre of the spot where you feel pain, then do sádhárańa práńáyáma.
Explanation: Suppose there is a back pain felt during the night, then in the morning, Práńáyáma should be done on a point in the centre of the affected area. If a pain is felt in the thigh at 10 or [] A.M., then at noon, do práńáyáma on a point in the centre of that area.
(5) Pakśabadha práńáyáma: The point of concentration shall be the bone-joint or gland nearest to the affected area and between the affected area and the heart. And in this way, as the condition of the disease improves, move the point away from the heart to the next bone-joint or gland. In the case of arms, the tip of the middle finger, and in the case of legs, the tip of the big toe, will be considered as the last point of práńáyáma. (In other parts of the body, the last point of the diseased area.) After the disease is cured, the ácárya will direct you to concentrate on the points he or she thinks advisable for the requirements of your sádhaná.
If the disease appears in both upper and lower parts of the right and left sides of the body, then the práńáyáma should be done in the morning on the appropriate bone-joint or gland in the upper part of the body, and at noon on the bone-joint or gland in the lower part on the opposite side. If the disease occurs on just one side in both the upper and lower parts of the body, then the práńáyáma should be done, in the morning and at noon respectively, in the upper and lower parts. If the disease occurs in only one part of the body, then the práńáyáma should be done both in the morning and at noon on only one point.