When we prepare for Pranayama we want to settle our body to neutrality, so we put ourselves in the Shavasana following the steps previously described. Only then we are able to calmly watch the breath going in and going out. The breath shows us those parts in the body that are not letting go. So therefore breath and body become instrument for us to let go at the deeper level.
Enlightenment is a state where there is no holding on to anything, it is a state of nothingness. So in our body when we make that freedom to come about, this influences also our energetic system. Pranayama is using the breath as a tool to free everything through the touching of the breath in the trunk. When it becomes free-flowing, this is it.
Hatha Yogis they take this on farther. They influence the mind and change it by using the breath. But we are not going to that, we are going till there. That is what interests me – to become free. When you start to influence your breath, changing your energies, an attachment arises. And I just want to be free in my life. That is why I don’t teach you how to hold your breath on purpose.
When the breath becomes flat and it gives the impression as if one is not breathing anymore, it is good. It is a highest state, in which occurs a natural Kumbhaka (breath retention) as described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. When you become absolutely quiet, the breath anyway stops. The trouble is that the one might get afraid of it.
Another trouble in Pranayama is that when you arrive to that quietest state, you know it is good so you start to like it and you become attached to it. As Goenkaji was saying, you get attached to pleasant sensations and it is as much of a problem, as getting attached to the pleasant sensations that you want. Once you are starting to get these nice sensations, you want hold on to them. Whether you want to build a swimming pool for your comfort or you hold on to your nice, pleasant sensations – that is exactly the same problem.
What we know is this physical body, which is flesh and bones, but we have many bodies. When we are at peace with this physical body, then we also connect with our other bodies. It is important to realize however that the only reason to connect with them is to purify them and not to use them as a means to travel. When you reach a level of freedom it happens naturally that you don’t do anything and yet you appear in another place with your astral body. As Patanjali describes it in the Yoga Sutras: should this happen, these are the things that you can perceive, that you feel happening to you as a warning to not use it in any way.
Since there are people who are not doing any meditation practice and have this kind of experiences, it is clear that we are products of our past. It shows that the practice of their past life brought them to a certain level. Therefore people, who can experience it just like that, now they have to go further and be happy of that state of being. And they need a guide. If they have had a good karma, they will spend this life in furthering it, developing awareness and not remaining unconscious.
There was a story about Buddha who was sitting in the posture touching the Earth with one hand asking the truth. He was attacked by Mara, the evil force, who didn’t want another being to be enlightened, because if too much light came to this world the darkness would have disappeared. When Mara said that Buddha was not ready to be enlightened, Buddha answered: ask the Earth how many lives I have spent in this preparation. That is the Buddha Mudra – touching the Earth.
Shiva is the teacher of a Yoga practice. Shiva means the one who has killed everything within, a free spirit. Shava, like the name of the posture Shavasana, means that you have killed everything, there is nothing more as all the disturbances have been eradicated.
Yoga master teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the Intensive Yoga Course
at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre in Goa, October 2010