Connect with us

Yoga

Pranayama for Beginners: Reveal the Power of Your Breath

Published

on

Pranayama for Beginners Image

Pranayama is a system of breathing exercises that can significantly increase your energy level. Yogis use this technique not only for the purpose of improving the physical body but also as a way of controlling the flow of life energy. There is a saying that by controlling his breath, the yogi controls the thought, and by controlling the thought, he controls the breath (prana).

In this article, I will share with you what pranayama really is, what are its benefits, and how you can practice it.

What Is Pranayama?

Prana‘ is the Sanskrit word for breath, “life force”, or “vital principle”. ‘Ayāma‘ can be translated as “the suspension of breath” or “control”. Thus, “pranayama” can be translated as “control over vital energy”.

I’m sure many of you have heard the word “breatharianism“. This is a lifestyle in which a person eats not physical food, but prana. But the paradox is that, in some way, we are all breatharians, because food is made of prana, water is made of prana, and air is made of prana. Life is impossible without prana. We consume prana every day. But only pranayama allows us to consume prana most effectively. The pranayama practice increases the amount of energy consumed and also reduces the need for sleep and food.

The Essence of Pranayama

Breathing exercise image

Most often, pranayama is associated with breathing exercises that have a beneficial effect on the body, saturating it with oxygen. However, yogis use this technique not only for the purpose of improving their physical bodies but also as the way of controlling the flow of prana (vital energy).

Prana is the vital energy that fills everything in the Universe. It saturates all living things with life, providing physical bodies with strength. Breathing allows us to absorb prana and control its flow. It is believed that the basis of the entire existence consists of “energy” and “consciousness”, which are very closely interrelated. Prana gives energy to the forming of consciousness.

According to Patanjali, pranayama is the length of time between inhalation and exhalation. During this period, the time of assimilation of prana increases, the fluctuations of the mind decrease and the perception expands. But how is it possible to reduce the excitation of the brain by holding the breath? This is due to the fact that nerve impulses in some parts of the body are suspended, and the structure of brain waves is harmonized. Therefore, pranayama is one of the most important elements in Hatha yoga.

Buddha on Breathing

While holding the breath, there is a deep calm of the mind.

The sutras describe such an episode in the life of the Buddha.

One day, during his sermon, a disciple asked, “Why is the world so imperfect?” Then Brahma, the Creator of the world, who was also present at the Buddha‘s sermon, said that he created this world ideal, and only because living beings have too fast and short breath, their prana “jumps” in the body, and therefore there are “jumps” in the consciousness, and because of this we all see this world so imperfect. This is quite an interesting version, which is worth testing through your own experience. By stopping your breath you can calm your mind. And once your mind is calm you will be able to see the perfect world.

Quality of Prana

It is important to note that since pranayama allows you to effectively receive prana, it matters very much the quality of prana you receive.

It is best to perform pranayama in a clean place with fresh air – somewhere in nature, away from the city.

But if such ideal conditions are not available to you, then, at least, make sure to practice pranayama during a proper period of time.

The Best Time For Pranayama

Pranayama should be practiced early in the morning. The earlier the better the quality of prana. The optimal time to practice pranayama is the so-called Brahma Muhurta. It’s an hour and a half before sunrise. This is a period that has a state called “Nirguna” – the absence of the influence of energies on space. This is the best time for any spiritual practices. This period lasts 48 minutes.

The time before sunrise has the state of Sattva guna, that is, a state of joy and balance between the body and the mind. And after sunrise, begins the time of Raja guna, that is, a state of never-resting mind. And then Tamas guna period starts and lasts whole day till evening. Tamas guna is what leads to destruction – the way by which nature destroys things. Therefore, it is not recommended to practice pranayama during this time.

Always pay attention to during what period you going to perform your pranayama practice since the time of the day affects the quality of prana! Be mindful of what prana you consume.

Pranayama Benefits

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama Image

1.Longevity increase

Pranayama allows you to lengthen the breath, which, according to the ancient yogis, increases longevity. Thanks to pranayama, a person learns how to properly use the lungs.

The fact is that in everyday life, most often only the top of the lungs is involved, which leads to oxygen starvation and accumulation of stagnant air in the lower part of the lungs. The ability to use the entire volume of the lungs allows us to become less exposed to respiratory diseases, increases the level of vital energy and makes it easier to cope with stress and anxiety.

2. Emotional balance

Pranayama practice affects our Central nervous system. Breathing affects the hypothalamus, which is responsible for emotional responses and the transformation of perceived reality into experience.

3. Improves Cardiovascular health

Pranayama increases the blood circulation and oxygen capacity of the blood which helps improve the cardiovascular function of your body.

4. Deep concentration

Pranayama allows you to harmonize the flows of prana in Ida and Pingala. This allows you to direct the energy into Sushumna and achieve a state of deep concentration.

5. Reduces risk of Hypertension

Pranayama allows our bodies to relax and be free of stress and tensions which helps in bringing down hypertension.

6. Detox

Pranayama helps to remove all accumulated toxins from your body.

7. Cures Digestive problems

Pranayama helps in alleviating digestive problems and also helps reduce bloating.

8. Heals Sinusitis

Regular pranayama practice helps treating or preventing sinusitis. Moreover, it helps in clearing out the nasal passages and stuffy noses.

9. Provides good-looking skin

Regular Pranayama can remove the blemishes and wrinkles from the skin and provide fresh oxygen making your skin glow in health.

Preparatory Practice

pranayama meditation image

As a preparatory practice for mastering pranayama, it is recommended to master the so-called “full yogic breath“. In fact, this is exactly the breath that is recommended to breathe in everyday life. And, sadly, most of us don’t breathe properly. Most of us breathe through shallow breathing, or at best through chest enlargement. With this breathing, energy costs for muscle movements are large, and the amount of assimilated air is low. How can we fix it? The answer is we should master the full yogic breath.

Full Yogic Breath

1. Close your eyes.

2. Place your hands on your stomach, slightly interlacing the fingers so that the fingertips come to the second knuckle of the opposite hand. Your navel should feel cradled.

3. Begin to breathe deeply into the navel, into the belly.

4. Practice breathing with a controlled, slow breath so that you feel the fingers slide apart on the inhale and back together on the exhale.

5. Breathe like this 15-20 times as deeply as you can without discomfort or force.

6. Slide the hands up to your ribcage. A good estimation is to have the pinky fingers hang over the edge of your ribs with thumbs right below the pectorals.

7. Keep breathing, except now inhale into the belly, in to the ribs. Fill the belly first before expanding the hands on the ribs. Visualize the breath filling in your body from the bottom up. First the belly, then the ribs. Feel the ribs expand in all directions – not just forward, but sideways and into the back body.

8. As you exhale, retrace the steps from the inhale. Exhale starting from the ribs, finshing off with the belly. The navel drawing in should help fully expel your air. Don’t force your breath in either direction, in or out.

9. Repeat this another 15-20 times. Into the belly, into the ribs. Out from the ribs, out from the belly

10. Separate the hands and place them on your chest, resting the palms above the heart center with fingertips gently curled over the collar bones.

11. Continue breathing. Start into the belly, into the ribs, into the chest. Filling up your torso with breath from the bottom up, all the way to your fingertips. Feel the breath rise along the spine, expanding the insides in all directions. Exhale the way the breath came in. From the chest, through the ribs, out of the belly.

12. Keep the spine as tall as possible. Just by following the breath from the bottom to the top, from the top to the bottom, you’re already mindful of how the spine is stacked.

13. Repeat this 15-20 times.

After you’ve found your full yogic breath expanding throughout these three areas of the body, allow the breath to normalize. Pay some attention to how it feels as you inhale and exhale. Find your smooth, natural breath, keeping a tall spine and your eyes closed. You’ll know when to stop.

Pranayama for Beginners

Eckhart Tolle Quote About Meditation and Breathing Image

If you decide to learn pranayama, you should not immediately begin to practice some complex practices. In case of failure, the desire to master pranayama may disappear for a long time. Therefore, you should start with some simple techniques. One of the simplest (but at the same time very effective) techniques is called “Nadi Shodhana“.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

There are three main energy channels in our bodies: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. Ida is the left channel, Pingala is the right channel, and Sushumna is the Central channel.

The right channel is traditionally considered a masculine energy channel, as it shows masculine qualities. The left channel is a feminine energy channel. For the yogi it is important to balance Ida and Pingala channels and let the energy flow through the Central channel – Sushumna. Only in this case, is balance and harmony possible. And this is the goal of Nadi Shodhana practice.

Regular practice of Nadi Shodhana offers an energy boost in the body and releases stress and anxiety. It should be practiced in the morning in fresh air with empty stomach.

Instructions

  1. Sit comfortably on flat ground.
  2. Now close right nostril with your right thumb and breathe from left nostril. Then close your left nostril with middle and ring finger and breathe out from right nostril.
  3. Now closing in the left nostril breathe in deeply with right nostril and then close right nostril and breathe out deeply with left nostril. Do the repetition.

Bhastrika Pranayama

This is another very simple pranayama that is suitable for beginners.

In this pranayama, body gets the maximum amount of oxygen due to complete inhaling and exhaling.

Instructions

  1. Sit comfortably on a flat ground.
  2. Take a deep breath through both nostrils and fill the lungs with air and then exhale completely with a hissing sound.
  3. Repeat

Kapalbhati Pranayama

This pranayama is very effective in curing stomach disorder, obesity, digestive disorder and other problems related to stomach.

Instructions

  1. Sit on a flat floor folding your legs, keeping the spine straight and close the eyes.
  2. Keep the right palm on right knee and left palm on left knee.
  3. Take a deep breath and exhale with all your force so your stomach will go deep inside.
  4. When you exhale with hissing sound try to think that your disorders are coming out of your nose.
  5. Do not stress on inhaling. Inhalation should not involve any effort. Inhaling will be done automatically after each exhaling.

Sheetali Pranayama

‘Sheeta’ means ‘cooling’, which is exactly the effect of this pranayama. It’s great for relieving stress, anxiety, and tension.

Instructions

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with the back and head erect, hands on the knees in Jnana mudra and eyes closed.
  2. Make a puckered circle with your mouth then stick out your tongue and curl the edges inwards to form a tube.
  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through the tube as if sucking air through a straw to the count of 4.
  4. Fill up your abdomen and chest to full capacity.
  5. Retain the breath.
  6. Straighten your head and exhale through the nostrils until all air is expelled.
  7. Repeat

Bhramari Pranayama

This is the excellent breathing practice which plays an important role in releasing agitation, frustration, and anger. It is the best breathing exercise in calming your mind.

Instructions

  1. Sit comfortably on a flat ground.
  2. Place your index fingers on the forehead and with the remaining fingers close your eyes.
  3. Start inhaling through both the nostril deeply and slowly.
  4. By keeping mouth close, exhale by making a humming sound like “hmmm”. While making humming sound say “Om” in soft humming sound.
  5. Repeat.

The Bottom Line

Pranayama is an amazing practice that can allow you to gain quite an interesting experience. Its advantage is that pranayama for beginners and exercises like full yogic breathing can be mastered by anyone without any difficulties.

Yoga

Understanding The 5 Yamas For Gaining Self-Awareness And Inner Peace

Published

on

5 Yamas Image

The 5 Yamas are the first limb of the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’ originating from the ancient philosophical text, ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’. By practicing the 5 Yamas you gain self-awareness, transform negative energy into positive, and cultivate a deep sense of inner peace. In this article, I will introduce you to the 5 Yamas and give you some practical tips on how you can integrate them into your life!

8 Limbs of Yoga

There are 8 limbs of yoga, and Yama is the first limb.

The first limb: YAMA

Yama is a set of ethical norms that teaches us to communicate with others in the right way. To be brief, it means one thing: treat people the way you want them to treat you.

The second limb: NIYAMA

The step of forming the self-discipline and uplifting spirituality. This step involves regular visits to temples, meditative practices, a study of nature, thinking and walks.

The third limb: ASANA

Asana means ‘posture’ or ‘pose’. So by saying ‘asanas’ we mean body poses. Yoga practitioners know that our physical bodies are temples for our souls. Body care is one of the most important stages on the path to spiritual growth and enlightenment. Performing certain asanas, a person learns concentration and self-discipline.

The fourth limb: PRANAYAMA

Pranayama for Beginners Image

Pranayama is the ability to control your breath. It is a set and a system of special techniques that make it possible to establish a relationship between breath, mind, and emotions. Literally, pranayama translates as ‘extension of the prana’ or ‘breath control”. Pranayama practice allows you to rejuvenate the entire body and prolong your lifespan. We can practice pranayama as a separate type of yoga technique, or use it as a component of the complex of yoga practice.

The fifth limb: PRATYAHARA

‘Pratyahara’ means ‘gaining mastery over external influences’.

The purpose of this limb is to achieve a state of the distraction of the senses from the surrounding reality and the circulation of the gaze and consciousness inside of you. In other words, pratyahara is the ability to concentrate and not be distracted by various external stimuli. This step gives you the vision of the internal systems, understanding what can stop your personal and inner growth.

The sixth limb: DHARANA

Dharana means ‘concentration’ or ‘single focus’. By concentrating and abstracting, we get distracted from external ‘noise’.  This is how we can calm down our minds, which distracts us from knowing more than we are able to understand. It helps us to see the limitless of our possibilities. At this stage, there is a skill to slow down the thought process by focusing on sound, image, energy or body.

The seventh limb: DHYANA

Dhyana means ‘contemplation, reflection’ and ‘profound, abstract meditation’. This is the stage of the full development of the properties of meditation and concentration. Conscious inhibition of thought processes allows one to calm the mind, to feel serenity, not to give rise to new thoughts. To reach this stage, you need endurance and strength. For achieving this, you have to put in a lot of effort and time.

The eighth limb: SAMADHI

Osho Kundalini meditation 5 yamas image

Samadhi is a state of intense concentration that can be achieved through meditation. This is a state of bliss and understanding. On this stage, you extend the boundaries of your Self. You start feeling the connection between the divine origin and all living things, unity with nature and the world.

Samadhi is the highest stage of meditation, in which a person experiences oneness with the universe. In samadhi, the mind becomes still. You become totally aware of the present moment.

What Is Yama?

As you can see, Yama is the second limb of yoga.

Yamas represent a series of “right living” or ethical rules. It means “reining in” or “control”. These are restraints for Proper Conduct as given in the Holy Veda. The 5 Yamas are a form of moral imperatives, commandments, rules or goals.

The 5 Yamas are:

  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness.
  5. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint

Mastering these 5 Yamas is necessary in order to practice niyamas, asanas, pranayama and all other stages of the “eight-step path of yoga”.

Now let’s take a deeper look at each of the 5 Yamas!

The 5 Yamas

Yama #1: Ahiṃsā

Meditation Quotes 5 yamas Image

As I already said, Ahimsa focuses on nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.

Ahimsa is similar to the biblical principle “Thou shalt not kill.” In yoga, however, this principle is more extensive. Ahimsa is the renunciation of violence against anyone or anything, including oneself and the natural order of the world.

Why is it so important to renounce violence? If we look at this principle more globally, the main problems on this planet are caused by violence. This applies to the Planet, animals, people and many other living beings, i.e. to nature as a whole. After all, our planet is the same living organism as all the others, only in a slightly different form. That is why it is necessary to have the right attitude to the world.

From the point of view of the law of karma, causing harm or violence to other living beings, we earn negative karma. Accordingly, the more people, for example, kill animals, the more negative karma they accumulate. And each individual karma eventually forms the collective karma of society, as a result of which everyone will suffer in one way or another. If we help others to understand the consequences of their actions, then the overall situation on the Planet will improve.

How to practice Ahimsa?

Practice being more kind, accepting, and forgiving of yourself and others. Stop eating animals, fish, eggs, and other products of murder. Buy only cruelty-free products that were not tested on animals. Recycle your trash so it won’t harm our planet. Stop buying and wearing leather, fur, silk, and other materials that were created as a result of killing. Start being more mindful of what you are investing your money in. Don’t sponsor violence, cruelty, murder, and harm.

Yama #2: Satya

no profanity image

Satya focuses on truthfulness and non-falsehood.

“Truthfulness” means seeing and reporting things as they are rather than the way we would like them to be.

The importance of this prescription is obvious. When we are truthful to ourselves we can see the internal problems that exist, and, therefore, to make efforts to solve them. When we see a problem, it is easier for us to understand and choose the tool that will help solve it. Only when we are truthful with ourselves can we be truthful with others.

Perhaps some of you would ask: “Can we lie for good or saying a half-truth?” To begin with, in many Vedic Scriptures, the Buddha and many other sages of the past sometimes told only half-truths to the disciples. It is important to understand why they could do this. The fact is that their level of development allowed them to see all the karmic consequences of their words for the disciple. Therefore they could do it without hurting anyone. There are not too many people who can do the same nowadays. Most people still struggle to control their egos. And ego can blind anyone! That’s why it’s better not to experiment with karma and stay committed to truthfulness.

There is also the energy aspect of lies. Guided by false thoughts, deeds, and sayings, a person forms a reality that contradicts the objective reality. So with the help of the lies he/she says, he/she creates around him/her such an energy that after a while will make him/her see the world around him/her is not what it really is. Because of this, a person will constantly be making mistakes and experience confusion in life. His life eventually will turn into an illusion.

Moreover, according to karmic law, we always attract what we radiate. If you allow yourself to lie, you also give other people permission to lie to you.

However, by telling the truth you should always remember to follow the first Yama – Ahimsa (non-violence, non-harming). Don’t harm anyone by telling the truth.

For example, if a person is a thief and you know it, you can not hide this fact or lie about it! Otherwise, your lie or silence about it will harm others who will be robbed. Everything is pretty clear with this example.

Now let me give you another example. Many decades ago there was a Brahman who devoted his existence to the study of the Scriptures. Once, during his meditation, a cow ran by. Sometime later, the butcher who wanted to kill the cow came. He asked the Brahman which way the cow had run. Because the Brahman has been speaking only the truth all his life, as the Scriptures say, he showed the direction.

When the butcher overtook and killed the animal, the Brahman went to the hellish planets to be judged by Yamaraj. The Brahman did not understand why he was there. Yamaraj charged him that he was responsible for the death of the cow.

Living without lies is hard enough, especially if the truth hurts others. Lying is a distortion of reality, which entails certain consequences. It is important to learn how to present information so that it does not harm anyone. However, only a few who have reached certain heights in spiritual development can do so.

How to practice Satya?

In order for us to start practicing Satya, we need to learn to recognize the cascade of negative emotions that prompt us to twist reality. Once we have understood and processed those emotions, our thoughts, speech, and actions can be realigned with the truth, even as we look more deeply into our needs and desires. Outwardly, refrain from telling lies and speak with kindness, compassion, and clarity.

Yama #3: Asteya

Emotional Healing From Narcissistic Abuse Clear Boundaries Image

Asteya focuses on non-stealing. In other words, it is the renunciation of the desire to possess what does not belong to us.

Speaking of energy, it should be said that everything that a person has, in one way or another, is impregnated with his/her energy. A good example is clothing that carries the energy of the person who wore it. If a person stole something from someone, he undeservedly appropriated part of the vital energy of its owner. According to the law of conservation of energy, that loss must be replenished. And then the one who stole will suffer to compensate for the energy balance.

It is important to understand that suffering can manifest itself, both in this life and the next. The law of karma is absolute.

Usually, people associate stealing with tangible objects. However, intangibles, such as information and emotional favors, are more likely to be the objects stolen in our world.

How to practice Asteya?

Since the urge to steal arises from a sense of unhappiness, incompleteness, and envy, the solution is to practice giving any chance you get. Get involved in charity, get a volunteering job. Give food; give money; give time. Since abundance is ultimately a state of mind, you will feel increasingly abundant; and through selfless giving and serving, your sense of inner abundance may bring you outer wealth.

Yama #4: Aparigraha

Material Possessions Image

Aparigraha focuses on non-avarice and non-possessiveness.

This yoga principle teaches not to be attached to things. It is similar to the previous Yama, however, when practicing aparigraha you should not get attached to anything. In other words, you should follow the principle: “all the things of the world are yours to use, but not to own”.

For every single thing you own you need to invest a certain amount of energy. Everything you have needs to be fed by energy. And you are the one who unconsciously gives your energy to every single thing you own.

We should be very careful about what we buy, how often and for what purpose. It is necessary to ensure that each purchase was as rational as possible. In addition, the principle of non-violence should always be kept in mind. Before you buy a thing, think about what it is made of.

We need to learn how to make good use of the possessions that come to us and enjoy them without becoming emotionally dependent on them. Then they neither control us nor lead to false identities and expectations.

How to practice Aparigraha?

In order for us to start practicing Aparigraha, we need to examine our own tendencies toward possessiveness. To learn more read my article “Quiz: Are You Attached To Material Possessions?”.

The practice of non-possessiveness helps us to examine our assumptions and guides us back to healthy relationships with others.

Yama #5: Brahmacharya

Tantric meditation image

The literal translation of brahmacharya is “walking in God-consciousness.” Brahmacharya turns the mind inward, balancing and supervising the senses, and leads to freedom from dependencies and cravings. When the mind is freed from domination by the senses, sensual pleasures are replaced by inner joy.

Brahmacharya focuses on chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint.

This requirement has a very broad basis. Starting from excessive sexual pleasures, ending with attachment to taste sensations.

Now let us consider in more detail why the sages of the past tried to avoid sexual relations almost completely. This was done in order to accumulate and raise energy as much as possible, to serve as much as possible for the benefit of society, using the seed only for procreation. It is worth making an important reservation that orgasm and ejaculation are completely different things.

Of course, in modern society, all the media and the so-called mass culture, constantly propagandize and install in the people’s consciousness of the maximum possible satisfaction of sexual desires. Because of this, it is very difficult to change what has been laid in the mind for decades. But nothing is impossible.

The need to control sexual energy is connected with the fact that, satisfying sexual passions, a person loses a huge amount of vital energy in the process of obtaining such a short-term pleasure. And when there is no energy, it becomes impossible to think about self-improvement and engage in spiritual practices on a higher level.

Of course, you may say: “Though I have sex 3-4 times a week, I still have the energy for my spiritual development”. And then I would answer: “You have no idea what you are capable of! You’re using just a very small percent of your potential! If you had more energy you would be able to master so much more in this life! You would discover hidden talents, passion for science, psychic abilities, immediate manifesting abilities, healing gifts, etc.”

The same applies to attachments to taste sensations. It is believed that the more you are attached to taste, the more vital energy you spend on the enjoyment of food. In this way, you need to strive to ensure that the food is simple and healthy and doesn’t stimulate your taste in the way that you get addicted to it. This will save more energy for a more efficient life and development.

Usually, attachments to taste and sexual desires testify to the energy blockage of the Svadhisthana chakra. In this case, an effective method, in addition to the practice of the asanas, is a cleansing technique Shank Prakshalana. It allows you not only to physically cleanse the body of toxins but also it can cleanse your energy.

How to practice Brahmacharya?

Be honest with yourself about what dependencies and cravings you have. Start making wise choices about the books and magazines you read, the food you eat, the movies you see, and the company you keep. It will help you conserve energy and keep your mind focused and dynamic.

Learn to be moderate in all sensual activities so that you don’t dwell on them. Staying committed and faithful to one partner in a relationship. This is a good way to start practicing Brahmacharya.

The Bottom Line

It is through your personal practice that you can learn the basics of yoga, which will help to achieve spiritual enlightenment in the future. Attentively study and find your own ways to practice the 5 Yamas in your everyday life. Then you’ll be able to build your own path to spiritual enlightenment. Even if you are just a beginner in yoga and meditation, practicing the 5 Yamas above will help to make a great start on your spiritual path!

Continue Reading

Yoga

Understanding the Niyamas for Attaining a Higher State of Consciousness

Published

on

Niyama Image

In classical yoga, ‘Niyama’ refers to the second limb of yoga that leads to achieving ‘God Consciousness‘. Niyama has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances. When we learn how to put the 5 Niyamas of yoga into practice, we maintain a positive environment for our growth and develop the self-discipline and inner-strength necessary to progress along the path of yoga. Moreover, these 5 Niyamas are wonderful tools for cultivating happiness, self-confidence, and making every day meaningful.

8 Limbs of Yoga

There are 8 limbs of yoga, and Niyama is the second limb.

The first limb: YAMA

Yama is a set of ethical norms that teaches us to communicate with others in the right way. To be brief, it means one thing: treat people the way you want them to treat you.

The second limb: NIYAMA

The step of forming the self-discipline and uplifting spirituality. This step involves regular visits to temples, meditative practices, a study of nature, thinking and walks.

The third limb: ASANA

Asana means ‘posture’ or ‘pose’. So by saying ‘asanas’ we mean body poses. Yoga practitioners know that our physical bodies are temples for our souls. Body care is one of the most important stages on the path to spiritual growth and enlightenment. Performing certain asanas, a person learns concentration and self-discipline.

The fourth limb: PRANAYAMA

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama Image

Pranayama is the ability to control your breath. It is a set and a system of special techniques that make it possible to establish a relationship between breath, mind, and emotions. Literally, pranayama translates as ‘extension of the prana’ or ‘breath control”. Pranayama practice allows you to rejuvenate the entire body and prolong your lifespan. We can practice pranayama as a separate type of yoga technique, or use it as a component of the complex of yoga practice.

The fifth limb: PRATYAHARA

‘Pratyahara’ means ‘gaining mastery over external influences’.

The purpose of this limb is to achieve a state of the distraction of the senses from the surrounding reality and the circulation of the gaze and consciousness inside of you. In other words, pratyahara is the ability to concentrate and not be distracted by various external stimuli. This step gives you the vision of the internal systems, understanding what can stop your personal and inner growth.

The sixth limb: DHARANA

Dharana means ‘concentration’ or ‘single focus’. By concentrating and abstracting, we get distracted from external ‘noise’.  This is how we can calm down our minds, which distracts us from knowing more than we are able to understand. It helps us to see the limitless of our possibilities. At this stage, there is a skill to slow down the thought process by focusing on sound, image, energy or body.

The seventh limb: DHYANA

pranayama meditation image

Dhyana means ‘contemplation, reflection’ and ‘profound, abstract meditation’. This is the stage of the full development of the properties of meditation and concentration. Conscious inhibition of thought processes allows one to calm the mind, to feel serenity, not to give rise to new thoughts. To reach this stage, you need endurance and strength. For achieving this, you have to put a lot of effort and time.

The eighth limb: SAMADHI

Samadhi is a state of intense concentration that can be achieved through meditation. This is a state of bliss and understanding. On this stage, you extend the boundaries of your Self. You start feeling the connection between the divine origin and all living things, unity with nature and the world.

Samadhi is the highest stage of meditation, in which a person experiences oneness with the universe. In samadhi, the mind becomes still. You become totally aware of the present moment.

What Is Niyama?

As you can see, Niyama is the second limb of yoga. Niyama is the Sanskrit term for duty or observance recommended by yogic philosophy and teaching as part of the yoga path. In the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, he outlines five niyamas as part of the second limb of yoga.

The Five Niyamas are:

  1. Śaucha (शौच): purity, clearness of mind, speech, body, and soul.
  2. Santoṣa (सन्तोष): contentment, acceptance of others and of one’s circumstances as they are, optimism for self.
  3. Tapas (तपस): austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, perseverance.
  4. Svādhyāya (स्वाध्याय): study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches and actions.
  5. Īśvarapraṇidhāna (ईश्वरप्रणिधान): contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality), attunement to the supreme consciousness.

Mastering these 5 Niyamas is necessary in order to practice asanas, pranayama and all other stages of the “eight-step path of yoga”.

If you want to practice Niyama you will need to fully focus on developing self-control. Let me share with you 5 ways to bring niyamas in your daily routine.

5 Ways to Practice Niyamas

Niyama #1: Saucha

yoga asana image

As I already said, Saucha focuses on purity, cleanness of mind, speech, body, and soul.

Saucha niyama teaches us to observe perfect purity. A person who practices yoga must observe the purity of his/her own body because it is a temple of the spirit.

The one who practices yoga must keep clean not only his/her physical body, but also the food he/she eats, and the house in which he/she lives.

The most important thing in practicing Saucha is the purity of the soul. In this regard, if a person is really serious about practicing yoga, then he/she should get rid of envy, anger, lust and other negative emotions.

And os course, the speech of yogi should be free from lies, curse, profanity, gossip, flattery, and judgments.

Niyama #2: Santosa

Daily Prayer And Meditation Image

Santosa focuses on contentment, acceptance of others and of one’s circumstances as they are, optimism for self.

Santosa involves the ability to find satisfaction from life, despite all the suffering and losses that we might face.

The main purpose of the second Niyama is to teach us to be happy, friendly to others and grateful for all that God gives us. The practice of Santosa involves being unattached to the material world and life events while accepting everything that life gives you as lessons.

Usually, we try to avoid situations that give us discomfort. But acceptance means being willing to see the problem and go in the direction that scares you (leaving your comfort zone). If there is something in your life that you avoid, Santosa encourages you to be honest with yourself and admit it. For example, if you are exhausted but don’t admit it, you won’t take steps to heal and recover.

Niyama #3: Tapas

Osho Kundalini meditation image

By practicing the third Niyama, we should develop such qualities as austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, and perseverance.

Discipline is very important for advancement in yoga practice. Take time for yoga every day: spread out a mat to practice asanas and meditate. Let this be the basis of your consistent practice.

If you practice Tapas, you will be able to fully take control of your desires and obsessions. Eventually, this niyama will help you to overcome your own ignorance.

Niyama #4: Svādhyāya

Mala Beads Prayer Image

This niyama focuses on the study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches, and actions.

In the process of practicing the fourth Niyama, we get engaged in the realization of our own essence. We can also say that Svadhyaya is a so-called ‘prism’ through which can we see the Divine within us.

In this regard, in the process of mastering the fourth Niyama, we should devote ourselves to the study of yogic Sutras, Vedas, other sacred texts, and spiritual literature, as a devotion to our spiritual development.

Choose a text for spiritual reading and devote yourself to reading this book in the morning before watching the news and checking your emails. Let these words that you read be your parting words for this day. Think about these words during the day, and in the evening analyze their impact on you.

Niyama #5: Īśvarapraṇidhāna

praying girl image

This niyama focuses on the contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality), attunement to the supreme consciousness.

The divine principle is universal, even though there are many religions and spiritual teachings. In one way or another, many believe in a power that transcends us, and it doesn’t matter what each of us calls it. Devotion is a key aspect of faith.

The purpose of the last Niyama is to plant in the heart of the disciple the highest degree of piety through which the mind comes to Samadhi.

This Niyama teaches that we should always remember to dedicate the results of our efforts to God so that everything material that is valuable for us turns into a feeling of love for the Supreme.

The Bottom Line

Consciously approach the practice of these niyamas. Practice them only if you feel you are ready for the next step in your spiritual development, not because someone says so.

Continue Reading

Yoga

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama: Yogi’s Antidote to Stress

Published

on

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama Image

Anuloma Viloma is a pranayama technique or breath exercise used in Hatha Yoga practice. It’s also known as “alternate nostril breathing”. Everyday practice of this pranayama exercise has lots of different benefits. Not only it helps to get into a deep meditative state and relax but also it helps general rejuvenation of the body.

In this article, I’ll share with you step by step guide on how to practice Anuloma Viloma, what the benefits of this practice, what mistakes people usually make during the practice, and inspire you to turn this breathing exercise into your everyday practice!

Anuloma Viloma Benefits

To get you excited about this practice I want to start with its benefits which are really incredible!

Here are the benefits of a regular Anuloma Viloma practice:

  • purifies energy channels;
  • balances the two brain hemispheres;
  • stabilizes the nervous system;
  • strengthens the respiratory system;
  • restores blood circulation;
  • relieves muscle tension;
  • eliminates CO2 and other waste products from the blood;
  • increases the resistance to stress;
  • improves mood;
  • expels stale air from the lungs;
  • improves heart and blood vessels;
  • oxygenates the blood;
  • increases concentration;
  • profoundly calms the mind;
  • increases creativity;
  • helps to activate Third eye chakra;
  • boosts intuition;
  • stabilizes blood pressure;
  • balances inner solar and lunar energies;
  • relaxes muscles and internal organs;
  • harmonizes prana (the life force energy);
  • increases blood supply to the digestive system;
  • prepares the mind for meditation;
  • stimulates various brain centers;
  • cleanses the stomach of toxic substances;
  • increases the clarity of thought;
  • improves the immune system and strengthens the body’s protective functions;
  • lowers stress and anxiety;
  • stabilizes the endocrine system;
  • purifies the Nadis (subtle energy channels);
  • boosts rejuvenation processes in the body due to regulated hyperventilation;
  • improves digestive processes.
Pranayama Image

Short-term lack of oxygen increases resistance to diseases, improves the immune system, starts the process of healing the body and cleansing of toxins.

As a result of performing Anuloma Viloma, aging of the body slows down, metabolic processes are restored and cell formation increases. When switching to the energy-saving mode, the muscle clamps relax while holding the breath.

The Essence of Anuloma Viloma

Anuloma pranayama is a fairly simple breathing practice for everyday use. According to ancient yogic texts, the human energy body consists of 72 thousand Nadi channels. For our Anuloma Viloma practice, we are primarily interested in three main Nadis: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.

Ida and Pingala symbolize opposites: Moon and Sun, Yin and Yang, Day and Night, cheerfulness and relaxation. Sushumna is a level of consciousness in which there are no divisions.

Main Nadis and Chakras for beginners

The basis of the practice of Anuloma Viloma is alternate breathing with the nostrils. In yoga, the left nostril is associated with the Ida and the right nostril – with Pingala. The main task of pranayama is to balance these two opposites as much as possible.

Even scientists have shown that breathing through the right nostril stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, and through the left nostril – parasympathetic. Breathing only through the right nostril increases the heart rate, and through the left nostril – reduces it.

Basic Principles

There are two main principles we should always follow while performing Anuloma Viloma.

Principle 1: the Alternation of the Nostrils

Even with the normal breathing of a healthy person, the nostrils take turns breathing every 90 minutes. When performing pranayama Anuloma Viloma it is very important that both nostrils are clean and breathing well.

Principle 2: the Exact Proportions of the Inhalation-Exhalation-Delay

Using the exact proportions and their gradual increase help to balance the flow of prana.

The Technique

Anuloma Viloma should be practiced on an empty stomach!

Sit comfortably with the straight spine.

Rest the left palm on the knee in Jnana Mudra (thumb and index fingers touching) to create a pranic circuit that drives energy toward the brain.

Place the right hand in Vishnu Mudra (by tucking the index and middle fingers into the palm). The thumb, ring, and pinky fingers will be more or less extended.

Close your eyes. Inhale comfortably. Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Exhale slowly and completely through the left nostril.

Now for the first round, inhale slowly and comfortably through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the ring or pinky finger – and then release the thumb from the right nostril.

Exhale slowly and completely through the right nostril. Now breathe in through the right nostril. Close the right with the thumb, release the ring or pinky finger from the left, and exhale through the left.

This completes one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

Advancing Anuloma Viloma

In the beginning phase, the inhalations and exhalations should match, and the breath is never held. Master this technique before moving on.

Next, the inhalations and exhalations can be extended gradually up to a count of 10.

The next stage is to incorporate internal breath retention and to begin extending the exhalation. After inhaling for 4 counts, hold both nostrils closed for eight counts, then exhale for eight counts.

The next stage is to move on to a 1:4:2 ratio (inhalation: internal retention: exhalation). According to ancient yoga texts, this ratio has profound psychological effects. Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 16, and exhale for 8. Work with this ratio for weeks, months, or even years until it feels comfortable and natural. Slowly, increase the count to 5:20:10, 6:24:12, or even 7:28:14.

Anuloma Viloma Preparatory Level Image
Anuloma Viloma Table

There should be no hurry in mastering any pranayama. All attention and efforts should be directed to the correct development of the technique. Only after one hundred percent development of one of the stages you can move on.

Possible Mistakes

Read this section again after several sessions of Anuloma Viloma. After real practice, you will be able to assess your capabilities in a different way and identify your own mistakes.

When practicing Anuloma Viloma make sure you are NOT:

  • Using the left hand instead of the right;
  • Hunching over;
  • Using the wrong fingers;
  • Tensing the right shoulder;
  • Dropping the chin;
  • Inhaling too deeply;
  • Exhaling too quickly;
  • Keeping your eyes open.

Conclusion

Anuloma Viloma is breathing pranayama that purifies you on the energy level. And with a certain persistence in its development, this practice helps to get rid of diseases and even rejuvenates the body. By simply practicing it 5-10 minutes twice a day in 2-3 months you will feel significant changes in your body!

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Travel

Awareness

Gift of time image Gift of time image
Gratitude12 hours ago

The Gift of Giving: Benefits of Generosity

Tis the season for Gift Giving! What are the true benefits of giving? In what place do you give from?...

Abundant Living2 days ago

Feng Shui Christmas Tree Placement Rules for Abundance and Happiness

Christmas is just around the corner, so it’s time to decorate your Christmas tree! You might be asking, what’s so special...

Sacred Geometry Image Sacred Geometry Image
Awareness1 week ago

Sacred Geometry: The Hidden Significance Of Geometrical Shapes

Our physical reality is located within Space and Time. Modern esoteric knowledge has revealed the possibilities of practical work with...

Feng Shui Astrology December 2019 Image Feng Shui Astrology December 2019 Image
Astrology1 week ago

Feng Shui Astrology for December: the Month of the Fire Rat

Feng Shui astrology is based on the Chinese calendar. The dates of the beginning and the end of the months...

most accurate horoscope imagebased on Feng Shui Astrology image most accurate horoscope imagebased on Feng Shui Astrology image
Astrology1 week ago

The Most Accurate Horoscope for December 2019

In this article, I will share with you the most accurate horoscope for December 2019 based on the Feng Shui...

Abundant Living2 weeks ago

Abundance Haircuts In December: Good And Bad Days To Cut Your Hair

Abundance Haircuts is a little-known sutra which reveals negative consequences of cutting your hair on the bad days and incredible benefits of...

gratitude affirmations image gratitude affirmations image
Gratitude2 weeks ago

Powerful Gratitude Affirmations for Health, Joy, Love and Success

The law of gratitude is one of the most important Universal laws. Gratitude is an energy exchange that leads to the...

gratitude changes everything image gratitude changes everything image
Abundant Living2 weeks ago

Gratitude Changes Everything: This Is How It Works!

One of the most important Laws of the Universe is the law of Gratitude. Most people neglect it, and some...

Osho Quotes On Women Image Osho Quotes On Women Image
Inspirational quotes3 weeks ago

Osho Quotes On Women: 38 Thought-Provoking Sayings

In this article, we want to share with you the most thought-provoking Osho quotes on women. Osho was an Indian...

Walking meditation image Walking meditation image
Meditation3 weeks ago

Walking Meditation: How To Perform It Properly And Why?

In this article, I want to share the practical aspects of walking meditation. I will share with you how, where...

Daily Inspiration