After finishing the body scan we can proceed to Pranayma, guiding our breaths. I mentioned it before that on a back bends day we don’t do more inhalations in Pranayama as they are also stimulating and bring the energy upwards. So today we will make only few inhalations and then focus on exhalations.
We start with three to four inhalations and we do them with clear awareness, feeling the physical opening in the chest. Then we move on to the exhalations and we make them long. We exhale fully until we get to very foundations of inhalation. This is similar, but now breath is fast to come up to that fullness of the chest. Then the chest is open and we keep that fullness of the chest by keeping the awareness under the breath, just below the nipple. As we exhale our awareness continues to be there. If we hold that awareness muscularly the whole rib cage becomes hard. The rib cage drops, it is natural in the exhalations, but because our awareness is there, it drops less. And that is that exhalation done in Pranayama. While making inhalations we have to be clear about the energy not moving into the head. In the exhalations we have to be clear that the physical body does not drop. Keeping this very clear, we will make exhalations. Just four-five of them. And then that is going to be our Pranayama. Two to three inhalations. Four to five exhalations.
I must warn you that if you are not ready either in an emotional state or your mind is agitated, then do not undertake any kind of control with the breaths. Resume whatever you were doing. Exhale. Get to the fullest quietness that you can before you start. Make sure that you take plenty of rest in between. Every controlled breath requires a pause. Remember that struggle is part of learning. Don’t give up easily. Don’t give up.
Always make sure your breath is without any jerks. It should be smooth when it turns round from exhalation to inhalation, from inhalation to exhalation. Never hold the breath making the diaphragm hard. Never breathe in until the upper chest is becoming hard. Above all, don’t just play around with the breath. As you move up into the chest with the inhalations, as you move down from the chest towards the navel with the exhalations. As you pass through, the scenery changes, feelings change, consciousness changes. In the same way you start on a walk, it gets thicker and thicker, you enter the forest. Everything is different, the sounds, the smells. So also it is a journey and you are feeling this. Everything that there is to feel. Total presence is required. Action and sensitivity should be in equality. The moment I become more action – I lose sensitivity. The moment I am just sensitive – I lose the action.
There is no hurry. In fact there is nowhere to go. The whole thing is about learning what we are. Nothing else. Learning what this energy is about, what this mind is about. That is all. There is nowhere to go. So you are doing things with that understanding. All I want to know is how this reality of this body is. When I do something – it is revealed to me.
We are not trying to inhale more or to exhale more, because then we do not understand this reality. I am so much into what I want, that I don’t see what the effects are of what I am doing. So if you are into trying to breathe in an out as long as possible, as more as possible – drop that. All ambition takes us away from this understanding of ourselves. All ambition – including this one. It’s not the purpose.
We have a couple of more breaths to do. The goal is within us. The more we clear the ignorance about us, the closer we are. There is nowhere to go. Everything is us. Now you should make your last controlled breaths. When you have finished, exhale, surrender, and turn over to the right side.
Consider this, we are doing something consciously. That doing something consciously – well or not well – matters less than the watching of what happens. On the other hand, if we don’t do anything, we can still watch, but that is a difficult part. Doing something and watching is an easier part. It is only when we get to a certain stage that we can just be quiet and watch. Being “doers”, we also watch what we do and that is easier. But it is the watching that is important. Without that all we have been doing up to now was unaware and we have learnt little.
To finish the session we will sit and do three AUMs together before we go our way. Do so, sit straight and being clearly aware of the buttock bones. Straightness, which is relaxed indicates presence.
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