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Pranayama. Practice Tips

Pranayama, or control of breath and energy, is the most important practice of hatha yoga. At first glance, pranayama is just different breathing exercises, and it seems that you just have to follow the execution technique correctly and everything will work out. But it is not certainly in that way. There are many subtleties, without knowing which pranayama does not give the desired effect, it becomes boring or unsafe.

Here are some tips on the practice of pranayama that can help in its proper mastering and further development:

  • Practice pranayama in the same place, at the same time, regularly. This gradually leads to a "cumulative" energy effect in a given time and space, which is very supportive to the practice.

  • It is best to perform pranayama on a cotton or wool mat, such a mat is called asana. Asana as a body position is also important – you should be comfortable, your back is straight, and your shoulders and chest are straightened. For pranayama are well suited: padmasana or semi-padmasana, sukhasana, vajrasana, swastikasana.

  • Master first the simplest forms of pranayama: full breathing and belly breathing. Learn to inhale and exhale smoothly and consciously, without tension and haste. Inhalation (puraka) is filling, and exhalation (rechaka) is emptying. Calmly observe how your state changes with each inhalation and exhalation.

  • After mastering simple breathing, you can move on to kapalabhati, anuloma-viloma (alternate breathing), ujjayi. Anuloma Viloma is the main basic pranayama and should be given a few months of practice before moving on to holding the breath.

  • Start pranayama in a calm state of mind, in the absence of hunger, but not on a full stomach. It is important that you be distracted as little as possible by the physiological processes of the body.

  • In life, try to follow yama and niyama – yogic principles that are focused on the of energy saving and proper interaction with the world. Pranayama gives a lot of energy, but if it is wasted in thoughtless daily activities, then such a practice is meaningless.

  • Watch your diet, avoid heavy, indigestible and tamasic foods. Regular practice of pranayama can increase vata dosha, so it is usually recommended to add warm dairy or oily foods to the diet.

  • During practice, always observe not only the breathing process itself, but also your condition. Try to do it in a relaxed, easy way, without forcing or trying to achieve some ideal (this creates anxiety in the mind). Right practice quickly becomes meditation if there are no worries and expectations.

  • If you practice mantra yoga, you can add a mantra to pranayama. It should be recited mentally during inhalation and exhalation. This type of pranayama is called samantrika ("with a mantra"). The mantra helps to stabilize the mind, it becomes a support for it, a kind of "place" of concentration. The energy of the mantra can also bring you into the state of pratyahara quite quickly, which will surely take your pranayama practice to a deeper level.


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