On a day when we have practised the back bends we cannot do more inhalations in Pranayama because they are also stimulating. Therefore today during the session we are going to do just three to four inhalations and for the rest of the session we will concentrate on exhalations.
We begin by scanning the body from bottom to top. First check the face: allow the eyes to become free and the facial muscles to become less tensed. And then start to scan the rest of the body from bottom to top. It is absolutely necessary to drop all issues before the practice, put aside all preoccupations. In the same way as we dream about our issues, about the day time, in the same way these issues keep coming back when we relax. Once everything is in order in my world then there is a possibility of settling down.
When we encounter very clear tensions, we learn to exhale long and focus on that area to try and drop it. I do my best, then whatever happens, happens. That is then not my concern. When tensions are seen, remember, they are not bad. They are good, they have been revealed to us. Don’t have a negative relationship with tensions. They are us.
Therefore we are not rejecting them, but we are taking them in our arms and dealing with them gently.
So we have half of this amount of time left. It is never too late, if you realise something. Be thankful that you at least realised it now. Whenever realisation takes place – it is our coming out of ignorance. Today’s realisation is tomorrow’s wisdom.
Let go, let go of any tensions. It is a tremendous art to quieten and allow the surrender to take place. We have to give it our attention and loving kindness, not beat ourselves up.
Relaxation happens with the correct letting go. Not rejecting anything – this is important. When we reject something, we create a conflict situation. It is also possible, that you have tried and it is just not happening. Either you continue to just relax, that means continue to try, or you can surrender and say today is not my day – turn over to the side and stay there or get up.
Whenever we come to an end of our scan, we will start to breathe out from under the eyes and allow all that mental energy to surrender into the heart. Sometimes when the mind is very agitated, we also have to start with that. We are exhaling from below the eyes while keeping the eyes of course soft. The exhalations descend and it is as if they are dissolving everything and then surrendering into the heart in the same way as a river ends into the sea. So also conflicts, which is all the mind is about, end into the heart. In the same way as the river is no more individual, it is part of everything, so also all our individuality comes to an end and we are part of that ocean in the heart.
Practice of the back bends automatically bring the energy upwards. If we learn how to relax the neck, it does not come so much into the head. Otherwise it does and the energy going into the head means more thoughts: quantity is more, the speed is more, there could be also sharpness in the thought. But the energy is of logic. Now when we make inhalations deep, we are feed this fire that is already burning. And it is our job, to understand how not to feed it. Therefore when we begin the Pranayama we will make our inhalations with that kind of wakefulness. Just two or three, so that we understand the physical opening in the chest. Only thereafter we will start to make the exhalations long. This is how an exhalation, which is guided, is.
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre
Yoga master teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the Intensive Yoga Course
at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre in Arambol North Goa, 2010