Pranayama

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Digital Method in Alternating Breath
Inspired by the method of digital training of the Iyengar School and with comments from the Shaivists-Tantric Schools.

Intro to Digital Pranayama: Good use of the nostrils as if they were a delicate musical instruments.
With a bit of practice, the fingers will tune in to feel the minimum adjustments, and the ears to hear the most negligible variation of sound.
Pranayama may be of two main groups:
Pranayama without digital control
Digital Pranayama where the right hand is actively used to control the air flow.

In the Digital Pranayama we have two big groups:

  • Alternate breath for both nostrils where we block one nostril and allow the thin flow of the air. Inhalation and exhalation are practised by both nostrils.
  • Partial breath breathe with one nostril, Surya Bhedana , right nostril sun – Surya Bhid- to go through, Chandra Bhedana, left nostril, Chandra moon.


The reason we use the right hand exclusively is rooted in propitiatory ceremonies where the right hand is the good hand, but the most probable reason is also hygiene reasons. In India at these times, you eat from your plate with your right hand, the same when you extend your hand in a temple to receive blessed water (tirta). In general, it is the use of the analytical left brain, which is trained for subtler jobs which refines this brain area. You use the thumb, ring finger and little finger, considering the index and the heart finger more aggressive, in general, if using these fingers, the arms would become heavier and the lateral connective chains of the arms would rhythmically go back and forth the medial lines more easily (more hyper active), we use the heart meridian(little finger), the triple Heather meridian(ring finger) and the lung meridian(thumb).

Digital Pranayama: Positive Effects The thorough attention required to alternate the air through the nostrils develops a consciousness, tuned by the subtle vibrations of the Ujjayi sound.
The air currents caress the interior of the skull skeleton, liberating the pressure at the back of the eye and the cranial sinus, promoting the sense of smell through the etmoides bone and increasing our sensitivity by stimulating the limbic system.

Ayurvedic Studies:The air flow is alternated regularly during day and night, predominately the left nostril is used during the night (lunar phase) and the right nostril, during the day (solar phase), except in changes of blood pressure : illness, flu, altered emotional states or very calm states etc.
Practising asanas and other causes can also alternate the air flow through one or the other nostril.

Tantric Knowledge:It is during dawn and dusk when the nostrils regulate the flow naturally and the air flows through both of them in a balanced way. This is due to the rise and fall of the blood pressure and the preparation for the change produced by the Sunrise or the dusk. Therefore, its understandable why yogis choose either dawn or dusk to practice Pranayama and meditation as the flow of air (prana) calms and the channels Ida and Pingala (subtle channels of polar energy) are more predisposed for regulation and contact with the central channel Shusumna nadi.

Methodology: In a stable position with crossed legs on a couple of blankets or on a chair with the feet well placed on the floor.

  • Firm corporal base, immobile pelvic floor, relaxed knees (use blankets or blocks to stabilise them if needed).
  • Soft lumbar curve, open and radiant sides up to the arm pits, we apply the shoulder circuit, integrate scapula.
  • Long neck and upper throat (hyoids bone)backwards.
  • The chin rests on the supra-external neckline, this develops certain thoracic contention which helps in the advanced processes of fair retention (kumbhaka)
  • Arms remain neutral, the left arm rests with the palm of the hand on the left thigh, and from the right hand we activate the fingers (avoid resting the hand on your chest)
  • In some cases, the little finger and the ring finger,which are not used to train in this way, may tense up; if this is the case, place a pen cap, cork or other element between the first phalanx to shorten the distance of the ring finger.

Placing the Fingers In page 200 of the book Pranayama by Iyengar, you have the Photo of the inner-stabilizer and outer areas to make it easier to understand.
I explain this:

  • Inhale: inferior part of the finger/s
  • Stabilise: central part of the finger/s
  • Exhale: superior part of the finger/s

An image that may help you is visualise the air in your hand so that when you inhale you are receiving it from the palm of your hand, upwards palm, when you stabilise the air, you are holding it and when you are exhaling the air you let it go turning the palm of the hand down. In this way, the positioning of the fingers, internal or external part of the finger tips coincide with the visualisation I have just explained to you.

Position of the Fingers: The compression for inhalation, contention or exhalation occurs in the area where the nasal turbinate narrows and the cartilage meets the facial bone, it is there where it is considered that the subtle channel Ida and Pingala end their ramifications and the Third Eye area begins.

Pneumatic pressure, Ujjayi sound and auditive follow-up: Soft and regulated, inhalation and exhalation will be monitored by sensitive listening, avoiding congestion in any of the stages of Pranayama; the fine listening of the Ujjayi sound will indicate:
a) Adequate intake and release of the regular air flow.
b) Adequate pressure of the amount of air that comes in, goes out or is retained.
c) Adequate Speed of the rhythm of intake and outgo of the air.
You may compare it with a pressure pot where the amount of air the container requires support s the pressure that the accumulated air produces. Another example is a car tyre, a pneumatic tyre, that is why we call it pneumo-thorax, the thorax where we sustain the pneumatic pressure of the air we inhale when we breath. The inhalation and exhalation of air is compared to a melodious sound like a soft flute, which produces a distant and ample echo where the Conscience may be revealed in all its splendour.

Nadi Sodhana Pranayama, Time, Rhythm and Training (introduction) In this introduction we are NOT going to cut the flow of the air completely as it is only an introduction to Pranayama. The mind will be kept alert and sensitive avoiding the process being carried out in a mechanical way.
The concept of the introduction to Nadi Sodhana is to restrict the pass of air by means of a light sensitive pressure, for the sake of regulating the flow of the breath and the subtle energy forms associated to it. (Prana Vayus).
Keep your sensitivity in the tips of your fingers and softly press the tips on the fine nose skin without pressing too much.

General Recommendation: Gradual steps and be sensitive to the physiological changes when you increase the length of time, keep the delicate attention in the breath, making sure that the Ujjayi sound is soft and harmonious. Be careful if you have a head-ache, if you fell pressure in the chest, if you have pressure in the eyes or ears, if you feel angry or depressed, leave the practice on these occasions; go back to your practice with less intensity and gradually increase the rhythm.

The Technique
You start by exhaling with the right nostril and exhaling with the left nostril (according to the Iyengar School).

  • Begin with a regular rhythm in the inhalation and in the exhalation while alternating the nostrils, you count for three seconds without retention in any case.
  • Gradually increase length of time to five seconds (an advanced technique)
  • Increase the exhalation up to eight seconds ( expert level)
  • Add gradually Kumbhaka in the inhalation with a length of 1 second up to 5 seconds, when you consider that you dominate the technique without generating pneumatic pressure you pass to the next point.
  • Train the exhalation in Kumbhaka, 1 second at first and up to 5 seconds in the end.
  • After months of practice, you may link all the processes together: 5 seconds inhalation, 5 seconds retention, you change nostril, 8 seconds in the exhalation and before inhaling by the same nostril, you retain for 5 seconds.

Subtleties of Pranayama

The entrance hall to meditation: Give yourself time at the end of Pranayama, for meditation between 10 and 20 minutes and another 10 minutes or so for relaxation at the end.
The optimal subtle energetic state in which this practice puts you is the entrance hall to delicious states of meditation: enjoy them and add your own delight to them.

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