The basics of the Pranayama is to understand the true nature of the inhalations and the exhalations. For that we use a method of watching it. As the breath comes through, some areas don’t allow the breath to come in. They are our tensions, these areas are closed. Slowly, slowly, as you exhale and you are relaxed, you start to understand the keys to get in there. When you start to understand getting in there and opening it, your breath is becoming also open and the parts which were obstructed – restored in balance, harmony.
What have you done by bringing balance and harmony? All the old stuff, which is sitting there in the form of conditioning, is slowly being washed out. Its content is in the same way as imprint. Those imprints are left in the body, of all the things that has marked us, all the things that we run after constantly. Pranayama is a way of getting inside it on the deeper level. By doing Pranayama we are understanding energies, this physical form of the mind. Then we understand the energetic body. And that brings us to our intelligent body.
We are laying there, there is nothing to do, the body is still. What is going to arise? Thought. If you continue to watch your colours and those sounds coming, you continue to remain in the sphere of mind. If you won't allow to be distracted by anything, you continue to be still. Try to understand all those aspects – balancing, adjusting, arranging. There is a lot of work to do. And if we don’t make our breath deep, all those things arise, but their strengths is low.
Eventually the meditation is going to make us understand those things, as they are integral parts of us. We are understanding the substrata of our being. Every meditation will lead to this understanding. But in the Pranayama we create an environment and we watch ourselves in that environment. Shall we say it is a controlled environment that we are watching and all this happens? Those who do Vipassana meditation will see the similarity in creating the right environment, in having the right focus – same thing that we do. Now relax. Relaxation is about not going here, not going there, but being still. When you do Vipassana, you keep the awareness in one place. You find after two minutes – oops! Thought, the clear mind has last for two minutes. Isn’t it what you experience? This is what I experience. Maybe you experience something different. So here we gather ourselves, we quiet and in that quietness we create an environment where we can watch. And there is noise going on, you can’t hear anything. So controlled environment, now we can only hear ourselves. Then we can watch all this phenomena.
Sometimes it is better not to do anything, rather than do something. And the pace is important, if you are the kind that beat yourself, you are going to end up in depression. If you are the kind that is searching for some high experience, because “I am not down there, I am up here”, you will find lots of trouble. Thinking ups are there and all those little beings down there it’s a sad story. Both these things are very fast when you do Pranayama. After all, action is involved.
When you do Vipassana meditation, what do you watch? Aha – this arising, aha – and you have desire to control it. “I am going to stay there”, the teacher says. “Oh, me I can stay one hour, wow great.” All paths are full of pitfalls. I have seen the worst people doing Vipassana meditation in my life. People that are really horrible inside. It does not always bring goodness. And I have seen worst people doing yoga. It does not necessarily bring goodness. It all depends how you do it. It is not an automatic process, it all depends on how. If you are there to gain something, well then you are no different from somebody wanting to gain whatever in life. You are ambitious. Whatever you want to find, you will find. This is the law of the universe. Whatever you project and want you will get it. These are the pitfalls.
Therefore, first relax. Now action is being made. Who is behind this action? The ambitious person? Or the one who wishes to let go and fall asleep? Remember the nine obstacles. All of them will come up when you do your practice. And it is for that reason that we learn. “Oh I see, I can be in one of these. Does it apply also when I do my practice?” Yes of course. Just because you do your practice, doesn’t mean you are floating up there, disconnected.
Yoga master teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the Intensive Yoga Course
at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre in Arambol North Goa, 2010