By Ma Mokshapriya Shakti Ph.D. E-RYT & Co-Founder of Yoga Teachers Training Institute
By manipulating the breath, yoga believes that we develop control over our inner body and mind. Each element of the breath, inhalation or poorak, exhalation or rechak, and retention or kumbak can be controlled in various ways. Primarily we would like to control the duration and depth of each. In this session we will explore viloma praanayam. Viloma extends our breathing capacity. Please note that in all yoga breathing there should not be any strain. We start slowly and increase with practice.
Healing our physical, mental and spiritual body is a full time effort. We might as well “Just Do It,” because the alternative is suffering. So please set aside some time for these breathing practices. Results come slowly, but they come.
In viloma the breath is interrupted by several pauses, either in inhalation or exhalation or both.
Pause in Inhalation
You can sit up straight in a chair or lie down in shavasan. Relax the whole body and breath in for 2 counts, pause for 2 counts, inhale for 2 counts, pause for 2 counts and continue until the lungs are filled. Then exhale slowly. It is like climbing up the stairs, and then sliding down slowly. As you practice this, the number of stairs begin to increase. You can also increase the counts. Remember there should not be any strain. As the lung capacity increases you will also notice the breathing techniques becoming longer and more subtle. Practice 3 rounds to begin with and eventually increase to eleven rounds. Breathe normally after.
Pause in Exhalation
Take a full inhalation and exhale for 2 counts and pause for 2 counts, exhale for 2 counts and pause for 2 counts, continue until the lungs are completely empty. Practice 3 rounds to begin with and eventually increase to eleven rounds. Breathe normally after.
Pause in both Inhalation and Exhalation
In this technique we combine both. You pause during inhalation and your pause during exhalation. Try to make each equal.
There are many more breathing techniques, these are a healthy way to start. Also investigate Diana’s CD, Breath for Health and Recovery. Breath is only one way to gather more praana. It is the fastest way.
Praana or vital energy is separate from breath. They are molecules that attach to oxygen. Therefore we need to become aware of the intake of oxygenated food and water. Bottled water has lost its praana. It is better to filter the water. But if you cannot, allow the water to flow through the air into the glass to put a “praanic head” on it. Eating fresh food like salad and fruits gives us praana from mother nature. Once the food is cooked, chewing thoroughly increases the praana in the food.
No matter how well we eat, how many breathing exercises we do, our mind and emotions are the most important ingredient. As mentioned before, if we are happy we have more energy. If we are depressed our energy is depleted. So we need to really work on maintaining a balanced mental, emotional and spiritual body. This becomes very difficult when we are faced with devastating diseases.
Trust in God is very important. But during these devastating times, we usually ask “why has this happened to me?” Remember that a dis-ease starts in the emotional body. Our suppressed emotions, our anxieties and tensions all contribute. These may not even come from this lifetime. Any disease or even any physical discomfort requires us to make lifestyle changes. If we are willing to change we have a chance of recovery.
I am a firm believer in the healing power of prayer. But we must believe that we deserve it. Through the many years of teaching yoga, and spiritual guidance I have seen one simple technique to be most beneficial. It is simple and just requires us to be consistent. Even consistency becomes difficult. When we begin to feel better, sometimes we sabotage the effort. Therefore I need to remind you that you are a spiritual being having a human experience. As a spiritual being you deserve to manifest health and abundance.
The simple technique is the power of gratitude. Every morning, get up and write down 10 things that you are grateful for. If you have a hard time to find 10 items, remember that you can be grateful for having a more comfortable life like hot water, shoes etc. that many people on this planet do not have. After writing this daily for about a month, you can start doing it within your mind and only write it once a week. That once a week is important and should become a habit for life.
Being thankful is a prayer and is very powerful. That power translates to manifesting positive energy rather than our constant negative chatter; which manifests negativity. We are very powerful beings, we are made in the image of the devine.
I would like to thank you for allowing me to talk to you during this difficult time. If you have any questions, or would like further information you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Love and Respect Ma Mokshapriya
Mokshapriya is ordained as Swami Ma Mokshapriya Shakti Saraswati and has taught yoga, meditation and philosophy for over 40 years. She currently teaches and gives guidance in Queens NY at the Yogashakti Yoga Center. She is the co-founder of the Yoga Teachers Training Institute and has trained over 250 yoga teachers in Long Island and New York. Mokshapriya has a Ph.D.in Education by researching and writing a “Comprehensive Eclectic Yoga Program: A Strategy for Self-Improvement” Curriculum for College. She is very direct, but approachable. You may contact her at email@example.com or www.teachyoga.org.