Advanced Yoga Practices
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Lesson 41 -
Spinal Breathing Pranayama
AYP Plus Additions:
41.1 - Nadi Shodana Pranayama (Video: Alternate Nostril
41.2 - Spinal Breathing Pranayama and Chakras? (Audio)
Moving Beyond the Mind in Spinal Breathing Pranayama (Audio)
Getting Started with Spinal Breathing Pranayama (Audio)
Visions during Spinal Breathing Pranayama (Audio)
Spinal Breathing Pranayama: Strong at the Root and Weak at the Brow (Audio)
Changing Seats between Spinal Breathing Pranayama and Deep Meditation (Audio)
Date: Thu Dec 11, 2003 8:15am
We will now begin an advanced pranayama practice called spinal breathing. It has several
components to it, and is done right before our daily meditation sessions. The procedure of
meditation will not change in any way. First we do our pranayama. Then we do our
Sit comfortably with back support, and close your
eyes just as you do when you meditate. Now, keeping your mouth closed,
breathe in and out slowly and deeply through your nose, but not to the
extreme. Be relaxed and easy about it, breathing as slowly and deeply as
possible without discomfort. There is no need to be heroic. Work your
muscles so each breath begins in your belly and fills you up through your
chest to the top of your collarbones, and then comes back down slowly. Next,
with each rising inhalation of the breath, allow your attention to travel
upward inside a tiny thread, or tube, you visualize beginning at your
perineum, continuing up through the center of your spine, and up through the
stem of your brain to the center of your head. At the center of your head
the tiny nerve makes a turn forward to the point between your eyebrows. With
one slow, deep inhalation let your attention travel gradually inside the
nerve from the perineum all the way to the point between the eyebrows. As
you exhale, retrace this path from the point between the eyebrows all the
way back down to the perineum. Then, come back up to the point between the
eyebrows with the next inhalation, and down to the perineum with the next
exhalation, and so on.
Begin by doing this
spinal breathing practice for five minutes before your regular meditations.
We don't get up between pranayama and meditation. Just keep your seat, and
begin meditation when your pranayama time is up. Take a minute or so before
effortlessly beginning the mantra, just as originally instructed. Once you
get comfortable in the routine of doing pranayama and meditation, one after
the other, increase the time of pranayama to ten minutes. You will be doing
ten minutes of pranayama and twenty minutes of meditation twice each day.
Continue with this practice.
In a week or so, or
whenever you are feeling steady with the ten minutes of pranayama before
your meditation, add the following features: On the exhalations, allow your
epiglottis to close enough so that there is a small restriction of the air
leaving your lungs. The epiglottis is the door in your throat that
automatically closes your windpipe (trachea) when you hold your breath or
swallow. By partially closing it as you exhale, a fine hissing sound will
occur in your throat. This is called "ujjayi." Be easy about it. Don't
strain. Keep the slow, deep rhythm of breathing you have become accustomed
to as you add this small restriction in the throat during exhalations. On
the inhalations, allow the throat to relax and open more than usual. Do not
restrict the air coming in. Rather, allow the deepest part of your throat to
open wide, comfortably. Do not change the slow, deep rhythm of breathing you
have been doing. Keep your mouth closed during pranayama. An exception would
be if your nose is stopped up and you can't breath easily through it. In
that case, use your mouth.
While all of these
mechanical actions may seem complicated at first, they will quickly become
habit as you practice. Once the mechanical habits are in place, all you will
have to do during pranayama is easily allow the attention to travel up and
down inside the spinal nerve with your automatic slow, deep breathing. When
you realize that your attention has slipped away from this easy up and down
procedure of traveling inside the nerve during spinal breathing, you will
just easily come back to it. No forcing, and no strain. We easily come back
to the prescribed route of attention in pranayama, just as we easily come
back to the mantra in meditation.
This pranayama will
quiet the nervous system, and provide a fertile ground for deep meditation.
With this beginning in spinal breathing, we are also laying the foundation
for additional practices that will greatly enhance the flow of prana in the
body. Once we have stabilized the practices we have learned so far, we will
be ready to begin gently awakening the huge storehouse of prana near the
base of our spine.
The guru is in you.
See this complete instructional lesson
on AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama, with additions and all the expanded and interactive AYP Plus lessons at:
Spinal Breathing Related Lessons Topic Path
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For detailed instructions on spinal breathing, see the
AYP Spinal Breathing Pranayama book,
and AYP Plus.