Thursday, October 04, 2012

Chakras and your breathing

Like I keep saying, the more I dig into yoga, the less I know I know...

Here are some things we do not know about the pranayama practices that everybody is talking of

Ujjayi : Vishuddhi  (Serenity/ Communication center at the throat)

Anulom Vilom -- Ajna (Intellectual center, between the eyebrows)

Bhramari -- Ajna

Bhastrika -- Manipura (Ego center, at the navel)

Kapalbhati (Ajna)

For me, what this means is that each of these pranayamas impact these chakras, to harmonise them. Though Swami Ramdevji has popularised bhastrika, I myself find it an exhausting practice and to be resorted to only when intensifying sadhana, and in a protected environment like the ashram. Some spiritual schools that have an international footprint have also combined kapalabhati and bhastrika to create a concoction which I find very overstimulating. Bhastrika, in the Sivananda tradition, we do only five to ten rounds, to ensure we keep within safety limits. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that it immediately impacts the body, creating a powerful heat.. how many people need to overheat their bodies?

I like the intellectual center pranayamas -- kapalabhati (which is actually a kriya, a cleansing practice) and anulom and bhramari. I find them  safe, health-assuring and powerful as daily practice. I find they help with advanced poses too.

Sadguru Sivananda, on pranayama:
Sagarbha Pranayama is that Pranayama, which is attended with mental Japa of any Mantra, either Gayatri or Om. It is one hundred times more powerful than the Agarbha Pranayama, which is plain and unattended with any Japa. 

(In the Sivananda tradition we do the samanu. I myself feel my day is complete when I do samanu, said with certain beej mantras for each movement of the breath. ) But again, Samanu is a very powerful practice and I feel such practices must always be initiated by an appropriately strong yoga guru. Samanu can topple u, make you disinterested in life (ha ha, me) and shift your perspective. It is not for everybody.

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