(The image is from this site)
Its intriguing that I have students who resist pranayama. Obviously, they are the ones who need it the most.
I once had an American lady student, who insisted that I was very strict and set in my ways, because I was not open to her suggestion that I must allow the class to proceed without any structure and just do "what one felt like doing." She gave me a lot of notes by some enlightened yoga instructor who felt that was the way yoga must be done. She felt I was being set and strict and stubborn (ass-headed, she did not say, but implied) and added a sugar-underline to it by claiming she was also like that, but trying to change and I must seek a similar open-mindedness.
But you know, I am not these "do your own yoga thing". I believe there is something mystical and yet scientific about the practice as it was found and has grown along the thousand of years its been around. Partly why it works is because of elegance of the structure and immense scientific and intuitive instinct that props all of that up to withstand any rational scrutiny.
And I've also learnt that what you resist, possibly is what you need to do the most, on the mat. Plus, it is about impulse control (including the much-maligned tantra practices which are much-misunderstood) and not about indulgence for the sake of it.
The lady would snivel and snort with fever or cold. Could not do headstand despite claiming to have devoted a life-time to yoga and having learnt it somewhere along the way and resisted surya namaskar. She wandered off, after one long argumentative conversation with me, trying to make me drop my "set" practice. And I was happy to see her go, simply because I was not willing to be converted by her at all.
So yes, over the years I have become adamant about pranayama practices and believe there is no yoga without it. I am also glad that I can manage the essential pranayamas in my hour-long class come what may. And that will take me into the idea of quantum time (for which, you must read the classic Yoga of Time Travel), which I'd like to discuss later on. That time expands to fill your need and if you want to do a five-minute head, and a full practice, including a nidra, it is absolutely possible within an hour. We nowadays have edged up to 40 sun salutes, without being bound by time. I believe that time expansion comes partly from the power of my students and their will towards a strong practice. More on that later.
Here I merely wish to say I am glad I hung on to pranayama in my classes (sadly many yoga classes in Mumbai neglect this crucial practice) because while reading Harish Johari's Tools of Tantra I found this connection as to why it is so important in mind control. Pranayama works on the brain stem!!
This part has three sub-divisions, which control autonomic functions
* Heart beat
* Blood pressure
* Movement / Co-ordination
* Reticular formation -- subconscious -- also controls sleep
* Controls attention
* Integrates information coming in from the senses (means, there is connection to your reactions)
* In learning, this could define how you classify information that you learn.
In fact, this part of the brain is the oldest, next to the Reptilian brain, and its reactions are automatic and immediate. Working on this is a powerful way to deal with impulse control.