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.