Pranayama Prerequisites: Preparations for Breathing Yoga
Before we get into the technicalities of Yoga pranayama, let us have a look at some of the prerequisites we need to keep in Mind, before we start as well as during the practice in order to actually benefit the most from practicing pranayamas. Apart from the prerequisites listed in this article we also need to adhere to certain other considerations while doing the pranayama for enhancing its benefit.
To start with prepare yourself for harmonizing the Prana within you via Yogic breathing by completely calming and decluttering your Mind. The mind needs to be conditioned or attuned to receiving Prana riding on the waves of your breath. A restless Mind or the Mind fazed with a volley of thoughts is incapable of doing the same.
Conditioning for Pranayamas
For doing so sit in any Meditative posture, Sukhasana, Padmasana, Vajrasana, and close your eyes with the palms resting on the knees. In case you are unable to sit on the floor sit in a chair and follow all the other details as mentioned. Be in the present, concentrating your Mind on the blank between your eyebrows. You can also concentrate on the flow of your breath. Slowly remove all your thoughts one by one. Let the thoughts appear as clouds on the sky of your Mind and vanish, don't stick to them. Training the Mind on letting go off any attractions or irritants helps as good release for any unwanted thoughts, which enhances the impact of Pranayama.
Stay Steady & Relaxed while doing Pranayama
No part of the body should be held tense during the pranayama practice. Keep the facial muscles relaxed. Any strain in any part of your body creates a blockage for the Prana to flow freely. Concentrate on the flow of your breath during the Pranayama practice. The flow of your breath, inhale and exhale, should be smooth and continuous, without any jerks. One can even practice some innovative ways to relax the mind using elements from daily life.
Keep the Abdominal contour neutral During Pranayama
The abdominal contour should be held taut as under normal conditions during Yogic breathing. Do not let the abdominal cavity distend while inhaling or contract while exhaling unless specified otherwise while doing pranayama.
The Significance of an Erect Spine for Pranayama
The spine needs to be kept erect for this is through where the Prana will flow after being harmonized. The vital capacity of the lungs is the maximum when the spine is held erect. Also, a curved/ bent spine will obstruct the flow of the harmonized Prana through it. Thus during the entire Pranayama practice be aware of your posture, in particular, the position of the spine.
Right time to do Pranayama Practice
Practice Pranayama after at least four hours past any meal. Its advisable to evacuate your bowels and bladder before you start your Pranayama practice. Since all these conditions are present in the morning hours for most of us, morning is the best time for practicing pranayama.
Place: Where to do Pranayama Practice
Choose a calm and adequately ventilated place with free circulating air for your practice. Pranayama should not be performed in open with windy weather conditions. Avoid doing Pranayama in a moving vehicle too. Stability of the base of the body is an essential requirement for doing any kind of Pranayama. Avoid places where insects could be potential irritants.
Number of Rounds: Pranayamas
The total number of rounds as recommended in a single sitting should not cross 30, and for each Pranayama the maximum number should be 10 rounds. Implement the concept of Matra, or time measure for executing the correct duration of a single round for different pranayama.
Accessories for doing Pranayamas
Always use a mat for your Pranayama practice, preferably made of natural fibers like cotton, wool, jute etc. and not the synthetic ones as the later interferes with the absorption of the negative ions from the earth's magnetic field, by the body, of which the Prana is supposedly composed of. In fact traditional literature suggests dear skin as a mat for doing pranayama and other yoga practices.
Do not forget to remove your spectacles in case you wear them before starting the Pranayama practice. The clothing should be loose and comfortable.
Do not be in a hurry while doing Pranayamas
Concentrate on the points in your body as specified for each Pranayama throughout the practice. Do not ponder over how many more repetitions still needs to be done. Instead, try to savor the feeling being generated from performing the Pranayama that is in progress.
Pranayama has to be a calm and meditative experience for it to be effective. It is not a mechanical exercise at all.