Where to Start?
To answer this question lets refer to one
definition of 'knowledge.' Knowledge is the expression of and experience
gained from an action performed.
“Where to start?” That is the first question one asks
when getting ready to begin a practice of Yoga. Some answer, begin with
meditation, while others suggests Asanas or warm up postures and exercise. As in
all good questions, this question should be answered by another question,
“Where did life start?” and the answer to both
of our above questions is “….with the breath of life”. Our Yoga
practice should start with the breath disciplines which will later on lead us to the
The ancient masters advocate that the practice of yoga
actually begins in the mind and through the medium of the breath extends into
the physical body.
In the beginning, Pranayama is very much a case of simply
moving air in and out of the body, or vayu-yama. As long as the pulse of prana
is pervading in the body vayu-yama, breathing out and in like the ebb and flow
of the ocean. Becoming aware of the pulse of life -Prana- increase the force of
the flywheel called breath. on the other hand to force the breath in a
'particular way' is an act of the ego.
Even when practicing Specific Pranayama exercises it is
vital to be aware of the process and not to simply force the event.
Pranayama is actually a higher
form of controlled breathing bringing under domination the Divine Life Force,
represented by the Prana.
The first exercise is simply to become aware how the body
wants to breathe and let that go on for a while about 2 minutes would be
sufficient. In this practice it is more important to be aware of the movement of
breath in and out of the body.
There is a special way to observe this process that causes
the movement of the breath to switch from being generated from the lower brain
to the more conscious upper brain.
The Second Pranayama to be learned is a simple, easy form
of involved, deep, regular inspiration and expiration of breath. It is called
Sukha Pranayama and can be done in any upright sitting position. Sukha means
“pleasant” and this breath should always be approached with a positive sense
of enjoyment, where the breath is also deep or Dirgha, sending powerful
reflexogenic feedback signals through to the brain advising the “respiratory center”
that Pranayama is being done.
This is the safest and best approach although to many
is not exciting.
The first rule is to cause no harm. Any practice which has
the potential to cause harm to the body should be avoided. Any practice which
would interrupt natural breathing and further cause labored breathing should be
Attempting to do Yoga postures and when there comes a
strain, then and only then one tries to breathe in order to allay the pain or
difficulty is wrong practice.
In the beginning the practice of breathing is to get
introduced to the body and what to do with the body comes next.
Sit comfortably with the head neck and trunk in a straight line as much
as is possible.
Place the palms of the hands down on the legs, close in against the body
or fold the palms together and rest them in the lap.
Breathe deeply in and out, slowly six to ten times. The incoming breath
should take a minimum of a six count, and equally also the outgoing breath.
After a few days of practice, extend the number of rounds so that five to six
minutes of deep breathing is easy to do.
In performing this simple breathing exercise pay attention to how the breath
impels the body. As in the more advanced lessons the use of advanced breathing
practice is used to make the body flexible...this is the true Tapas (heat
that comes from within) and not to raise the temperature of the room.