My friend Michael went back to Pune, India to do classes at the Ramamani Iyengar Institute a few years ago – his previous visit having been 30 years before.
My impression was that Michael was not overly enthusiastic about the classes he attended; he did, however, receive a great suggestion from one of his classmates. The fellow recommended regular pranayama practice to Michael as a way to smooth out his energy and develop enough energy to accomplish all of his many goals.
Michael took on pranayama practice and has never looked back. Pranayama became a staple of his daily life, and the sitting he did delivered more than he anticipated: energy, serenity, and interest.
If like me, you have encountered some hurdles in developing a routine pranayama practice, you might benefit from the methodical way Godfrey Devereux* approaches it. Each step he suggests builds on the next, so you’ll want to go slowly – even if it takes weeks or months to progress. You really will have the time if you’re patient.
(I’ve taken the liberty to paraphrase these steps to make them simpler.)
- Sit in an upright and comfortable position.
- Relax your body and let it be supported right through to your base.
- Release your spine and keep it lightly elongated.
- Tune into your posture: spine, outer body, core, the quality of the perineum and root of the tongue.
- Tune in to your exhalation and let it be a spontaneous release with no imposition of your will.
- Tune in to your inhalation and let it be natural without any meddling from your intent by or habit.
- Tune in to your breath without taking account of either the exhalation or inhalation as such, just letting your awareness be taken fully by its rhythm.
- Tune in and be one with the activity of your mind, allowing it to play out freely and fully. Be present to all that arises in your awareness without reaction.
*Hatha Yoga – Breath by Breath, Godfrey Devereux
Bahya abhyantara visaya aksepi caturthah
As realisation dawns, the distinction between breathing in and out falls away.**
**The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali, a new translation and commentary by Chip Hartranft.