Pranayama makes the body strong and healthy. There comes lustre in the face. The voice becomes sweet and melodious. The inner anahata sounds are distinctly heard. Nadis are purified. The mind becomes one-pointed. Rajas and tamas are destroyed. The mind is prepared for dharana and dhyana. Steady practice of pranayama arouses the inner spiritual force and brings ecstatic joy, spiritual light and peace of mind.
With the right hand in Vishnu mudra, close the left nostril; inhale through the right nostril. Close both nostrils and retain the breath while applying Jalandhara and Moola bandhas. Hold the breath as long as is comfortable, after which time, raise the head, release the bandhas, and exhale slowly and silently through the left nostril. This is one round. Start with 10 rounds and gradually increase to 20 rounds. In Surya Bedha, inhalation is through the right; exhalation is through the left.
Sit in any meditative pose. Close the mouth and inhale through both nostrils in a smooth uniform manner. Partially close the glottis in order to produce a soft sobbing sound of a sweet and uniform pitch. At the end of inhalation, close both nostrils with the right hand in Vishnu mudra. Put on Moola and Jalandhara bandhas and retain the breath. Before exhalation, unlock the bandhas, bring the head and neck into a straight position. Exhalation is performed by sealing the right nostril with the right thumb, and exhaling through the left nostril. Begin with 5 rounds, gradually increasing to 20 rounds. Ujjayi removes phlegm from throat, dyspepsia, dysentery, and cough. It helps to unite prana and apana in muladhara and awaken Kundalini. In ujjayi, inhalation is through both nostrils; exhalation is through the left.
The tip of tongue touches the upper palate. Inhale through the mouth, and exhale through both nostrils. Sitkari purifies the blood, quenches the thirst, and cools the system.
Fold the tongue into a tube and protrude it between the lips. Inhale through the mouth and exhale through both nostrils. Sitali purifies the blood, quenches the thirst and cools the system.
Kapalabhati and bhastrika may appear similar. However in kapalabhati, only the diaphragm is used. In bhastrika, the entire respiratory system is brought into play, though the diaphragm plays an important part. Also, in bhastrika the bandhas are applied during retention in order to unite the prana and apana and awaken the kundalini. Sit in any meditative pose, preferably padmasana, the Lotus Pose. Inhale and exhale rapidly, working the intercostal muscles as well as the diaphragm. In the beginning, start with ten rapid expulsions of the breath. When the final expulsion has been performed, follow with the deepest possible inhalation. Both jalandhara and mula bandhas are applied; the breath is suspended as long as can be comfortably held. Then exhale through the left nostril.
Start with ten expulsions gradually to thirty in each round. Start with three rounds and increase to eight rounds. Do not overdo this exercise.
Bhastrika is performed to break the three Granthis or knots:
(1) Brahma granthi at the muladhara chakra;
(2) Vishnu granthi at the manipura chakra and
(3) Rudra granthi at the ajna chakra. These 3 knots prevent the free flow of pranic current in the sushumna. Their purpose is to protect the individual until he/she has gained sufficient purity and inner strength. Bhastrika helps to break them, allowing the kundalini shakti to rise gradually towards the sahasrara chakra.
Inhale through the nose, producing the sound of the honey bee (snoring sound) then exhale, producing a humming sound. Try to do ten rounds.
The vocal cords and throat muscles are strengthened; the voice becomes sweet. A meditative state is induced.
Inhale deeply, apply bandhas and retain until the point of fainting is expected. Then raise head, release bandhas and slowly exhale. During kumbhaka, the mind is fixed on Atman. During its practice, the mind will become senseless and you will experience joy and happiness.
Caution: Do not practice unless under direct guidance of an expert teacher.
After closing the glottis, little by little, the air is swallowed until the stomach becomes bloated. After retaining for a few minutes, the air is belched out along with the foul gases. This exercise also makes it easy to float on water.
Q 1. Name the eight advanced pranayamas.
Q 2. What are the differences between kapalabhati and bhastrika?
Q 3. What are the benefits of surya bedha, ujjayi, sitali, sitkari and brahmari?