“What is called good is perfect and what is called bad is just as perfect.”
Walt Whitman

Change in Morning Pranayama Practice – Surrender?

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A couple of days ago my teacher changed my morning Pranayama from this:

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

To this:

8 – 0 – 16 – 0 Gradually build up Ujjayi breath
8  – 4  – 16 – 4 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
8  – 4  – (8 – 4)2 x12 Anuloma Ujjayi
8  – 0  – 16 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi

My evening practice continues to be:

10 – 0 – 15 – 0 Gradually build up Ujjayi breath
10 – 0 – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 5 – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 5 – 20 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 5 – 20 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 0 – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
6 – 0 – 6 – 0 x6 Ujjayi

Both practices are built around a 1-2 ratio which demand longer exhales. In both practices I’ve encountered resistance in mind and embrace in body – I thought I didn’t have enough capacity but I did.

Emphasis on the exhale has had an immediate effect on attention. If I am present and stable and attentive to the breath – then I can comfortably contain both practices. But if my attention wavers, a strain develops – the practices place pressue on me from the inside out.

After 2 or 3 practices (of the new morning sequence) I came to wonder about my previous practices (which I had set out for myself). Generally, the stop afer the inhale has a quality of strength and control, while the stop after the exhale has a quality of surrender and assimilation. The direction I chose for myself was to stir up a sense/experience of vitality – placing emphasis on the stop after the inhale. My teacher seems to be redirecting me towards a sense of surrender.

I am in a state of intense transition – an intense transition in which many things seem to be coming to an end and in their place is a large void of unknowns. I am taking my faith to new heights – and I am doing this with an almost complete sense of surrender. I feel I have very little control over what’s to come – and most of me wants to keep it that way. All this is to say that my life off-the-mat is about surrender – and yet my choice of practice was to counter that by trying to conjur up vitality – as if I was going against the grain. The practices my teacher gave me seem to be going in a different direction – embracing the quality of surrender. There is still a challenge – but it is now with the grain – refining my experience of surrender.

Both of the pranayama practices deliver me smoother then before into a meditative state. They demand more attention and lead to a more subtle experience.

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