“To die with elation is a crappy way of dying… A warrior dies the hard way. His death must struggle to take him. A warrior does not give himself to it.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Pranayama Exposes Mind

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Over the past week a change has occurred in Pranayama practice.

My current Pranayama practice was something like:
10 – 0 – 15 – 0  x8
10 – 0 – 15 – 5  x8
10 – 5 – 15 – 5  x8
10 – 0 – 15 – 0  x8

When my nasal passages are open and free I practice Nadi Sodhana, at other times I use Anuloma Ujjayi. Usually in the morning my nasal passages are still partly blocked, so I use Anuloma Ujjayi, while in the evening I usually practice Nadi Sodhana. Though it does vary.

A few weeks ago I felt there was a space for me to take the practice one step forward and I tried adding 10 – 5 – 20 – 0  to the sequence. I was able to contain it rather well. Shortly after (a few days) I felt like my entire practice receded – I was unable to reach the 20 second exhale peacefully (I could do it more or less with force) and my nasal passages became more blocked and I lost access to Nadi Sodhana. So I took a step back and resumed the core practice with Anuloma Ujjayi.

Then a few days ago I again felt in my body an invitation to bring back 10 – 5 – 20 – 0 but my mind resisted – I thought I could not do it. When this happened again I began to wonder if my mind was trying to push me away from something which I could do. So I gave it a try. The practice confirmed my suspicions. For some reason I got it in my mind that I cannot perform a quality 20 second. Even as I reached the extended breathing ratio with a sense of calm and space in the body I had thoughts like “no, this won’t work”. I set those thoughts aside and had a steady and calm sequence of breaths. Even then, when I had actually done the practice, there were doubts in my mind. Amazing! Thoughts (of self doubt!) were preventing me from using the breathing capacity I had in me.

Over the next few practices I focused on this internal dialogue. I answered the “no I can’t” doubts with “of course I can” convictions. A part of my practice was to practice a new perception – one which would replace the inhibiting patterns.

This morning’s practice surprised me even further. As I was doing my practice I felt my body inviting me to take even another step forward (it usually takes months or weeks at best for Pranayama to evolve – this time it happened in days) and I added a 10 – 5 – 20 – 5 ratio (I also made a few other small changes in the overall practice to make room for this new formula). Again I was able to go through a steady and calm sequence – though at the end I felt I had exhausted my stamina.

My practice is now:
10 – 0 – 15 – 0  x4
10 – 0 – 15 – 5  x4
10 – 5 – 15 – 5  x8
10 – 5 – 20 – 0  x8
10 – 5 – 20 – 5  x8
10 – 0 – 15 – 0  x8

Note: A few days after writing this came this

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