A number of pranayama techniques that Sri T. Krishnamacharya taught do not appear in the classical texts or the Veda. They have been introduced by various Masters during this dark age of strife and adharma known as Kali Yuga (3,606 BC – 2,442 AD) in order to help us return our disturbed minds to a peaceful state suitable for contemplation. In the more enlightened ages of the past, people had peaceful minds that were able to go into Samadhi easily. They could chant the Veda, perform the rituals and meditate on the Divine reality.
As the moral and cultural decline has deepened over time, various methods have been introduced to purify the mind of the poisons that afflicted it. The mind states that are enemies of peace are called sadurmi (six waves); they are kama (desire), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (delusion), mada (arrogance/ego), matsarya (jealousy/envy).
The natural state of the mind is santa (peace) according to the Vedic tradition. Yoga Sadhana (yoga practice) is to return our mind to its natural state. The primary manifestation of a peaceful mind is love and not desire and its offspring.
The disturbances afflicting the human being are physical, mental and emotional. These are addressed directly by the limbs of yoga.
Yama and Niyama are the disciplines applied in our day to day activities to avoid situations and activities that disturb our system.
Asana is a ritual designed to reduce passion and purify and discipline the body. A practice is begun and ended with chanting and pranayama to prevent the orientation of asana towards more attachment to physical sensations.
The purifying pranayama techniques are then applied. They are all based on ujjayi breath which is mastered in asana. Anuloma ujjayi purifies the physical aspect, Viloma ujjayi the mental aspect and Pratiloma ujjayi the emotional aspect. Sitali pranayama is added to cool the mind of excess heat in the form of anger and passion.
After the practice of the first three limbs of yoga and the purifying pranayamas, the classical pranayama of nadi sodhana can be attempted. The practice will have to be adjusted on a daily basis to remove any acquired impurities. Regular personal retreats will be of great benefit to ‘detox’ the system and therefore make progress.
The basic methods of purifying pranayama are:
Ujjayi pranayama – breathing in and out through both nostrils, controlling the flow of breath with the glottis.
Anuloma ujjayi – inhale both nostrils with ujjayi, exhale left nostril, inhale both nostrils with ujjayi, exhale right nostril.
Viloma ujjayi – inhale left nostril, exhale both nostrils with ujjayi, inhale right nostril, exhale both nostrils with ujjayi.
Pratiloma ujjayi – inhale both nostrils with ujjayi, exhale left, inhale left, exhale both nostrils with ujjayi, inhale both nostrils with ujjayi, exhale right, inhale right, exhale both nostrils with ujjayi. (This technique takes four breaths for one round).
Sitali pranayama – curl the tongue into a tube and protrude it. Slowly draw air in over the wet tongue while gently lifting the head. Lower the head with the breath held in, apply mrgi mudra and exhale through left nostril. Repeat inhale then exhale through right nostril.
In all practices the nostrils are closed and opened using the right hand in mrgi (deer) mudra. Traditionally the right hand is preferred for this.
It is difficult to live in Kali Yuga and maintain peace. The yoga masters have given these techniques out of their infinite compassion to aid us in these dark times.
Pranayama techniques should be learnt from a gurumukha (competent teacher).