“Who needs 'please' when we've got guns?”
Jack Johnson

Observing Pranayama: August 2010

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Following is a 10 day journal of observations in and around my Pranayama practice.

My current morning Pranayama practice is:

10 –  0  – 15 – 0 Gradually build up Ujjayi breath
10 –  0  – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  5  – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  5  – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 10 – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 0   – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
6 –   0 –   6 –   0 x6 Ujjayi

My current evening practice:

6 – 0 – 12 – 0 x40 Anuloma Ujjayi
6 – 0 – 6 – 0 x4 Ujjayi

Recurring ideas/terms in observation:

  • Late/Early Morning: early morning practice begins before 07:00am, late morning usually around 08:30. Body is very different in the late morning – warmer, more dynamic, lends itself to movement – but there are more disturbances in outside world.
  • Panick Exhale: a combination of mind and body experience when extending overall breath length – manifests in exhale. Mind expresses a sense of urgency early in the exhale – as if it isn’t expecting to hold out. Breath demands refined attention – usually ends up with a push and struggle in the end (manifesting as overly-tight abdominal control).
  • This period of observation is fairly aligned with the phase of Andreea’s cycle in which ovulation takes place. We are open to pregnancy – which makes this a more physically taxing period of the month for me. Pregnancy has brought with it much tapas – and this is an emotional period for Andreea and therefor also emotionally taxing on me. I need to remember that this is a period of sustaining.
  • The eletric metronome I am using has a flashing light in addition to the sounds. After practicing numerous times in relative darkenss and noticing the light more often then I care to admit – I realized that my eyes are having difficulty staying closed peacefully.
  • I have known a more subtle experience of Pranayama – I feel that life frictions are effecting the quality of my breath. Dealing with frictions in Pranayama does seem to offer support in life – is it possible to take it further?

Observations:

Date Time Observations
Aug 21 Morning
  • Off-the-mat: weird/confusing day yesterday – decided not to practice.
  • Physicality: Late morning practice, left shoulder feels inflamed – agitated by inhale movement. Body seems to be pulling to the left.
  • Flow: Both nostrils slightly congested – overall flow OK
  • Left-Right: Left side panick on exhale from the point at which holds are added. Overall better on right side – smooth consistent exhale.
  • Presence: Good -steady counting with only a few mental distractions
Evening
  • Repetition was experienced as boring.
  • Though a relatively short breath ratio demanded more subtle control in nostrils.
  • Flow OK – there is definitely space for refinment.
Aug 22 Morning
  • Off-the-mat: hot practice last night followed by spontaneous late-night wealth-celebration dinner – including french fries.
  • Physicality: Got up (a little later then usual) feeling heavy – did late-morning 20 minute practice standing & seated forward bends. Sitting was fine after practice
  • Flow: Both nostrils slightly congested – overall flow OK. Grew tired towards end of practice – less endurance.
  • Left-Right: Left side much more blocked then right side. Right side fairly smooth flow
  • Presence: So so – background drilling and construction noises didn’t help.
Evening
  • Better adjusted but still adjusting to the 1-2 ratio which I haven’t been experiencing as frequently as this practice demands.
  • Left side requires no physical nostril contol, right side requires nostril control to peacefully maintain the ration
  • Left side is more congested then the right side.
  • After practice left side felt heavier and tighter – right side felt more open and spacious
  • Better overall presence then yesterday
Aug 23 Morning
  • Slightly compromised food day yesterday – getting over and through the unusual dinner from the previous day.
  • Physicality: later then usual late morning practice – heaviness in body, short standing forward bend practice then Pranayama.
  • Flow: echoes from last night neutral (40 breath) practice carrying over into quality of exhale, more attention to using finger for nostril control – led to a slightly refined exhale experience – softer & smoother.
  • Left-Right: the same
  • Presence – surprisingly OK – was expecting easy diversion – maybe heaviness had stabilizing effect?
Evening
  • Crappy energy day – a head-ache-like presence, still managed to be productive, just didn’t particulary enjoy it.
  • No asana practice – just Pranayama
  • Surprising quality of presence.
  • Adjusting to 1×2 ratio – barely needed physical pressure on either nostril to sustain it.
  • Left still more congested then right
  • Thankful for practice.
Aug 24 Morning
  • Resumed complete morning practice
  • Left-Right: same deal, left inhibited, better flow on right
  • Presence – OK
  • Added a bit of chanting at the end
Evening
  • Full practice – including mahamudra.
  • Used a short mantra chant today (haven’t done that in a while) – both after morning and evening pranayama practices.
  • nothing to add on breathing practice – same as before
Aug 25 Morning
  • Heaviness in practice – though it didn’t inhibit me from completing the entire practice sequence
  • Left still less flowing then right.
  • Surprisingly – it was difficult to sustain the crown of the practice on the left side – usually it’s easier because the blocked nostril acts as a natural valve – though today something wasn’t in place. Inhales in the crown practice (and partly in tht stage before it) were a bit forced. There was objection in my mind to doing the crown formulat – but I did manage it and though it began with friction – it ended on a softer note.
Evening
  • Long and mindful day – much mathematics and programming – left me with a mind in overdrive.
  • No Asana practice – just Pranayama
  • Poor presence
  • Sides have been reversed – left side was more open and better flowing then the right side which was slightly more congested
Aug 26 Morning
  • Nice, full practice.
  • Usual pranayama – nothing to note
Evening
  • Day included two demanding conversations – drained my energy. Second conversation stretched longer then planned – consciously overriding my practice.
  • Objection to practice in mind and body
  • No practice.
  • No pranamaya
Aug 27 Morning
  • Had a very difficult time falling asleep – much disturbance in the body, itches that can’t be itched all over my body. Took time and patience to find sleep.
  • No motivation/will to practice. Not forcing it.
  • By not forcing it, appeared a space for Pranayama.
  • Began with chanting which opened the door softly into practice.
  • Surprising quality of presence.
  • Surprising quality oe balance between the two sides (though both still a bit blocked)
Evening
  • Another day of math and code – softer, better pace and more rewarding then previous day.
  • No asana practice today. We went for a short walk.
  • Pranayama practice – ok presence.
  • Again left side has better flow then right side.
Aug 28 Morning
  • Heaviness in body, late practice – standing sequence only + chanting
  • Pranayama practice – with OK presence.
  • Overal balance between the two sides.
  • On inhales – physical pressure pain around left shoulder – reaching shoulderblade on back side and heart space in front.
Evening
  • Money is on my mind
  • Short standing sequence, savasana + reiki + Pranayama practice
  • Flow blocked more then usual – very prominent on left side.
  • Basic presence
Aug 29 Morning
  • Woke up and practiced later then usual
  • Nice practice – appreciation
  • Pranayama was a bit difficult – especially sustaining the crown formula – especially on the left side
  • The two sides were different – but not in a consistent/describable way.
Evening
  • Money fears and now the presence of death near by
  • Good practice
  • Good pranayama – refined experience of exhale control
  • Fairly similar experience between two sides.
Aug 30 Morning
  • Again woke up late
  • Shakuhachi + very short standing sequence + chanting + Pranayama
  • Though nostrils felt blocked more then usual in regular breathing, Pranayama was surprisingly OK
  • Funny – I can’t seem to recall anything about left-right experience
Evening
  • Nice practice + pranayama + short meditation
  • Both nostrils slightly blocked – but with less noticeable difference between the two sides
  • Nice presence
  • First time in a while that I’ve felt pranayama usher me into a meditative space
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