Lesson 30: Online Education in Yoga by Sri Prashant S Iyengar: recorded 7-17-21
We have been dealing with pranayama. Last time I said that there is a lot of mockery of pranayama going on. Basically, shvasayama is being taught and practiced, [while being] called pranayama. There is no logic in considering shvasayama as pranayama, or [vice versa].
Then, a greater mockery comes in so-called nasal breathing, or what is called digital breathing, by way of Anuloma, Pratiloma, Surya Bhedana, Chandra Bhedana, and Nadi Shodhana pranayamas. It is suggested that one should be breathing through a particular nadi [tubular channel]. The [entire] nostril is not a nadi. Nadis are in the nostrils. Ida, pingala, and sushumna, the three nadis, are in the nostrils.
[When] the proper mudra for pranayama is not used, it is a mockery. The proper pranayama mudra, as I said last time, does not use the index finger and middle finger. Only the ring finger, [little] finger and thumb of the right hand [are used].
The pranayama mudra should be rounded…. Don’t clip the nose with aggressive fingers. It should be almost like a delicate ornament of the nose — soft palm, soft fingers and beautifully curved knuckles.
The tips of the fingers are enough to do pranayama, rather than the whole upper part of the finger…. Only tips of the fingers should be used. [Else, if] this is done as a mockery, people start blocking their whole nostril with straight fingers, and sometimes with straight thumbs…, and the septum is deviated, disfiguring the nose. Whereas in the classical approach, that is not the case. We don’t need to block the nostril to block the nadi. When we have a cold, our nostrils are blocked. Sometimes one nostril is blocked, sometimes both the nostrils are blocked…, but the nostril [opening], as such, is open…. The nasal hole is open, but the nostrils are blocked.
The nadis are blocked, [but] the holes of the nose are open, with the same diameter. Yet the nostrils are blocked. [If] the nostrils are blocked with a cold, but the nasal holes [are not] blocked, what is the point of blocking the nasal holes for blocking the nadis? This simple logical question doesn’t occur. It is [mistakenly] done quite aggressively in pranayama, deviating the septum, tilting the nose, and making the nose crooked. Moreover it is shvasayama.
Therefore, we need to consider, why are the fingers used on the nose…? How are they to be used? However, that pranayama is not a beginner’s pranayama. It doesn’t really commence there. Today it is commencing [there] because of… consumerism and quackery.
Pranayama Commences with Shvasayama +04.40
Pranayama means Anuloma, Pratiloma, Surya Bhedana, Chandra Bhedana, and Nadi Shodhana pranayamas. But that is not where pranayama starts. Pranayama starts elsewhere.
In the classical approach…, pranayama should start there. Basically, it has to be pranayama. However, when we are learning, the learning is on the plane of the breath.
Shvasayama is not delineated by classical practitioners. Shvasayama [is introduced] at the beginning to become… familiar with the functions of the breath. [Breath] is the vehicle, but ultimately it has to be pranayama. Shvasayama is not opposed to pranayama. Shvasayama is not being rejected… now.
It is so important… to commence learning the breath activities of shvasayama. [Although] children learned to fashion the alphabet on a slate [chalkboard] in their earlier [education], their education [does not remain] on slate for the rest of their lives. However, learning started on slate.
Similarly…, shvasayama is like [learning on] slate. That’s a wonderful condition, a wonderful concept, to learn certain practices with regard to the breath…, prana…, and pranayama.
Shvasayama is not being rejected, not being refuted, not being looked down upon. It’s a very important instrument to learn. So, pranayama starts with shvasayama, but shvasayama itself is not pranayama. This is what I’m trying to convey to you.
Anyway, where, then, will [beginners] start? As I said last time, they should commence in various asanas…. The breath has enormous potentials within our embodiment.
Breath — Integral Aspect of Body & Mind Functions +07.20
The breath comes as a component of body and… mind. The breath is not a totally independent thing, as it might be construed by this classification of body, mind, and breath…. [There] is no point in having a watertight compartment of body matter…, mind matter…, and breath matter. We are living by breath. Breath comes in all physical functions, physical manifestations, physical activities. Breath comes in all mental manifestations, mental activities and mental functions.
We need to educate [ourselves] about [the breath]. We should be familiar with this concept that the breath is a factor in [each] human function…, activity…, and manifestation. We don’t live without the breath. The breath is an incessant process. Breathing is an incessant process. All other functions are based on breath. This is what is important. It’s not just because we breathe, that we live, and because we live, we do, manifest and function. The breath is an integral aspect to all functions of body and mind.
Breathing should not be construed as some kind of energy movement, which keeps us animated: The breathing is going on, therefore our body… and mind function… and manifest. It is not like that. The breath is a very vital ingredient in our physical, and mental activities…, functions…, and manifestations.
Breathing is not like electricity. Electricity flows, and therefore…, various apparatuses work when electricity is supplied. It should not be construed that breath is like that kind of energy, which [powers] electrical apparatuses: If there is electricity, apparatuses work. [But], it is not that… [when] the breath is there, we as animated human beings, function and work.
[Breathing] is very much integral to all acts, actions, functions, roles, purposes, and manifestations. As students of yoga, we need to [construe] the breath as an entity. We have to personify the breath, just as we try to understand what…, why…, and how the body…, and mind are.
We study the body in body sciences, anatomy, and physiology. We study the mind in psychology, and neurology. What is mind? How is the mind? There is no study with regard to breath. That’s a shortcoming in our study of human embodiment. We have anatomy and physiology to understand the body. We have psychology to understand the mind. But there is no subject like breath-ology, which is so important… in yoga. We have to study breath-ology.
We’ll come to accord a persona to the breath and breathing. We want to do all actions by our body, senses, and mind. [What] activity is not done by body, or senses, or mind? These are agencies, and also forms of action. There are physical activities of the body, sensory activities of the senses and, mental activities of the mind. Perhaps this is the entire circumference of our activity.
Body and Mind Limited by Karma +12.00
When it comes to… physical activities of the body, the body has so many delimitations. Human beings have bodily limitations. Man cannot do what many subhumans can.
The birds can fly, man cannot fly; animals can take long jumps…, and come down safely. This is not the case of man. If he falls from a height, he will break…. There are so many limitations to the human body.
What the ant does, man cannot do. An ant can carry three times its body weight, and… climb up a vertical tree trunk. If you were given a weight equal to your weight, and asked to climb up a tree, [what would be] your plight? It can carry three times its weight in its mouth and climb up a vertical… trunk of a tree. We don’t appreciate these marvels.
The point is there are body limitations. Because of our body, we have limitations. The body has weight…. The body cannot take so many risks, or cannot have so many ventures. There are lots of limitations.
Then the body has its genetic background. Furthermore, there are a few more limitations — its genealogical, ancestral, and ethnic background. And, then, karmic background. Because of karma, the body has limitations, apart from other shackles.
The mind, similarly, has so many shackles, including karmic shackles. Therefore, although the mind might aim to do certain things, it cannot do many things. You will find that it is not perfectly right to say, “Where there is will, there is a way,” because there are delimitations and incapacities in mind and body.
Merely [wanting] to do something doesn’t mean that you will accomplish it. That’s a fact, and it should be accepted. Basically, there are karmic gravities working on our body and mind that we can’t escape. Karmic gravities cannot be escaped.
Breath Not Limited by Karma +15.00
Therefore, yoga embarks upon using the breath. Breath doesn’t have all those class delimitations which body and mind have.
Basically, there is no karmic background, there is no karmic gravity. The mind is… conditioned by karma. The body is conditioned by karma. The breath is not conditioned by karma. It is a force which comes from outside us, from nature, and goes back to nature. And then it is a new breath every four seconds. So, it is an ever-fresh force.
Our mind… and body are not ever fresh. Our body and mind age. A person who is 80, 90, or a hundred years of age, has a body and mind of that age, a little more or less. But the breath has no age whatsoever…. You might be 80 years of age. So, your body will be 80 plus or minus. Your mind will be 80 plus or minus….
That’s not the case of the breath, because the breath is ever a new force. Every four seconds, we get a new breath. And our breath goes out every four seconds. It is immersed into the atmosphere every four seconds. That’s why it is a constantly new force. It is always a new force. Our minds are not always new. Our body is not always new, but the breath is new, always new.
All the body matter… changes over a period of time. The skin flakes completely…, in about seven years or so. The body matter is renewable, mind matter is renewable. It is renewable, it is not new. It is not new all the time.
The breath is new all the time. That is the difference. In our metabolism, the body matter changes. We don’t have the same muscles, same bones, day after day, month after month, year after year, it is renewable matter. It is renewed in different cycles…, but the breath is ever new.
Most importantly, breath has no karmic background, no karmic gravity. That’s why using the breath is so important in yoga…. Yoga technology take recourse to the breath for this. One of the major reasons is that it doesn’t have a karmic background, an ethnicity, an ancestry, a genealogical, or genetic background.
But, in the case of the body and mind, you can’t be totally different from your ancestry, and your genetic pattern: it is not possible to be altogether different from your ancestors. Our genealogical transmissions are there. But that’s not the case with the breath…. The breath comes from a unique resource, and goes back to it. That is why breath is used in yoga.
Breath — Welcome Like a Newborn Child +18.55
There are so many perspectives and dimensions of the breath. Every breath is like a newborn child: when a newborn child comes in the house, all discord in the house is set aside. There might be discord between family members, but when a child is born, the whole atmosphere in the family changes. Concord comes. The family members come together. They rejoice together. Otherwise, sometimes they don’t even come together. But when a child is born, they rejoice together.
This [breath] is taking birth every four seconds. The body-mind matters have a different condition because of this incoming force every four seconds. Then the stale breath is disposed of every four seconds. We don’t build up waste in the body. There is in-breath and out-breath, an inward and outward movement of breath, to keep the body-mind matter ever fresh to some extent.
Breath Corresponds to Physical & Mental Action +20.15
Then, there is a corresponding breath to every physical and mental activity… function…, and manifestation. How the breath works for various physical and mental activities needs to be tested in the lab of our embodiment.
There is corresponding breath for a restful… to vibrant condition of body and mind. There are two poles. On one hand there are placid, steady, quiet, and restful conditions in body and mind. On the other hand, [there are] vibrant conditions. So, there is a corresponding breath behind every kind of manifestation, every kind of act, function, and activity. Asanas are the laboratory to study this.
Asana Explores Full Range of Physical Movement +21.25
In asanas as postures, we carry out different body activities — bending forward, backward, laterally; and turning laterally — different contortions of the body to the full range… given by nature. There are some critics who says that these are contortions, [and] contortions are not necessary. If that is the case, why has nature given [such a] range of movement of our body…?
If you are squatting, you can sit down, pick up one leg and put it behind the neck. This range is provided by nature. You might call Ekapada Sirsasana a contortion: you sit with both the legs straight and bend one leg and take that leg behind the head…, over the neck. For some, it looks like a body contortion. But why has nature given us that range of movement?
When we are walking, we do not use the whole range of movement in our hip socket. If man were supposed to just sit, stand, and walk, [why would there be] such an unnecessary range of movement in the knee and hip joint? Why is so much of movement provided in the joints? Asanas, in one sense, use that range to the fullest possible extent. If you don’t use it, disuse will slowly come in…. If not used… [over a period of time], we lose the movement altogether.
We are able to spread our legs to nearly 180 degrees in Hanumanasana, and about 170… to 180 degrees in Samakonasana. Why has nature provided that range? Asanas, as body postures, explore this range of movement available in all the joints and limbs…, the body’s enormous range of movement.
Our neck can turn from one side to the other, [over] a range of movement. If we are not going to use it, then disuse will come…. Postures should not be looked at as contortions. The body is given a range of movement to bend forward, backward, and laterally, and turn laterally…. Even invert.
Breath Circulation in Asana +24.20
We work on breath circulation, not only on blood circulation. This concept should be conceived, construed and explored. [Just as] we want the whole body to have good blood circulation, why not breath circulation also?
Otherwise, the breath is considered [solely] as the respiratory movement for the respiratory organs, or the respiratory system. But, then, it has such a range of movement, and it has such potential, that the breath can be holistic — to [benefit] the entire body and mind as well. In asana we are given this laboratory to explore, observatory to observe, and an academy to study.
Therefore, in asana we must have some amount of practice dedicated to studying functions of the breath. If we want to bend a part of the body, how do we use the breath for that? If we want to rotate a part of the body, how do we use the breath? If we want to bend backwards, how do we use the breath?
There is a corresponding breath for every body activity, action, position, and condition. If we want the body to be tough and hard, the breath will [act] as a hardener. If we want the body to be soft and flexible, the breath make the body flexible. It can mobilize… or freeze the body. It can tighten… and harden the body, or soften the body. The breath comes as a hardener or softener.
We know we have to stretch our body in asana. So, [the breath] comes as a straightener…, and stretcher breath…. Do you want to bend the body? [Use] the bender breath. [If] you want to bend the body in various possible directions, there is a bender breath. There is a bender breath, a straightener breath, a turner breath, a hardener breath, a softener breath. This breath, as a fluid, needs to be explored through asana — how the breath comes for various physical body movements…, and different mental states.
In asana we want to traverse the mental realm. We want to go through different states of mind. We want the mind to be vibrant sometimes, sometimes electrified, and sometimes… restful, quieted, sublimated, and ennobled. From a tranquil to an ennobled, sublimated, mind.
We want so many manifestations in the mind, as well as in the body. How does the breath come for every state and condition of the body? How does the breath come for every state and condition of mind? This needs to be explored through the practice of asana. Asana provides a wonderful academy, a wonderful field, to really understand… how many ways the breath can work.
The breath is really a multitasking agency within us. Not only that, when associating with the breath, the mind…, and body, too, also become multitasking agencies…. [That]… association of body and mind with the breath will go past their usual activities and functions. This needs to be explored in asana.
Uddiyanic Inhalation & Exhalation In Supta Baddha Konasana +28.40
In asana we have to just see how [it is] a holistic breath. Let’s try to have… a few practical examples here. So, settle down to a position such as Supta Virasana, or Supta Baddha Konasana, which is, perhaps, possible for all of you. Settle down with a bolster, lay down in Supta Virasana, or Supta Baddha Konasana — in one of these positions.
Now…, after you get settled in the position…, try to understand how much, and in what way, the breath can work for the pelvic, umbilical, and abdominal regions…, from below the ribcage to the pit of the trunk.
Let’s see how much the breath can function there, how much it can carry out the abdominal operations — by the… volume of in-breath and out-breath, velocity of in-breath and out-breath, by the combination of velocity and volume of the in-breath and out-breath. It’s a tremendous agency to accentuate and actualize… the belly region.
In Supta Virasana, rather than just settling into normal breathing, start doing hyper-normal breathing. In terms of volume, exhale more and more with reference to the belly. Find out how many operations it can carry out. Then, similarly, exhale with reference to the belly. How many exhalation operations can be carried out?
Then, the Uddiyana mannerism advocated by yoga technology. You must uddiyanicaly inhale, uddiyanicaly exhale. Then uddiyanic mannerisms to abdomen…, both, inhalation and exhalation. In simple words, the uddiyanic mannerism means deflating the abdomen. When you are inhaling, see that the belly goes down, towards the back.
[It is] a deflated, contracted and sucking condition, rather than an inflation…, or bloating of, the abdomen. In the chest inhalation, we can inflate the chest…, bloat and puff the chest. But we are not supposed to do that in the belly, according to… yoga technology.
Let’s see how, by inhaling a hyper-normal volume of breath, we are able to carry out different operations on the belly, and abdomen — by [using] the Uddiyanic inhalation to the extent possible.
Once you [are no longer able to] do it, you can let go and just do the inhalation as it comes. So, in exhalation Uddiyanic mannerisms. It will carry out a myriad of functions, a myriad of operations, on the abdomen.
We know [about] gastroenterological operations in surgery. There are an n number of gastroenterology operations. Here you can carry out a gastroenterological yogic operation by the in-breath and out-breath, by confining your breathing to the abdomen.
Breath — Plows & Loosens Abdomen +32.25
See how many processes are available. When you [increase] the breath velocity a little, when it starts working like a pneumatic force, find out how you can carry out agricultural acts like plowing, scraping, and combing. These are the operations.
Imagine that you are combing your abdomen by the in-breath. You’re combing your abdomen by the out-breath. You’re scraping your abdomen by the in-breath. You are scraping your abdomen by the out-breath. [By] scraping, combing, plowing — like plowing the field to loosen the soil…, for it to be worthy of farming. If you don’t loosen the soil, it is not worthy of farming. Loosen the soil for it to be worthy of farming. Loosen the field of your abdomen by the in-breath and out-breath.
The breath will seep [through]. The abdomen become seepage worthy for your breath. The breath will seep through, like water seeping through when the ground is loosened, rather than compressed…. When we loosen it, the water seeps through the earth easily…. The sun rays also penetrate easily. The temperature penetrates easily. If it is a hard surface, it doesn’t penetrate so easily. So, we have to plow the abdomen, comb the abdomen, see the abdominal processes.
Now, go for a rarefied breath. Find out in a rarefied breath, how gentle operations will take place on the abdomen. Flat, delicate, tender, operations of the abdomen, fine and super-fine operations in the abdomen. So, velocity, volume, variations, and the combination of them.
Breath — Graphic Modes in Asana +34.35
Then there are graphic modes of the breath. In various asanas you are taught various graphic modes of the breath. If I tell you to breathe across from the right corner of the waist to left corner of the chest, can you do that? You can’t do it.
But, if you’re in a twisting position, rotated position, you can do that. The breath will go oblique. It will go across… from one corner at the bottom to the opposite corner at the top. And from one corner on the top to the opposite corner at the bottom when you exhale. Because of the posture, like Ardha Matsyendrasana, it will go obliquely when you read the breath.
Now [the breath] is going vertically, up and down. If you are sitting upright or lying down straight, it goes up and down. There are so many aerodynamics of breath. Different asanas give you different aerodynamics of the breath, and encourage different aerodynamics of the breath.
Explore… the basic graphic modes of the breath, which you will experience in asana…. There are basic graphic modes, such as a cylindrical breath, and a columnar breath. Visualize these forms. These are configurations of the breath — columnar breath, cylindrical breath, obverse, or upward, conical breath and, then, reverse conical breath, like an upward triangular and reverse triangular, or upward conical and reverse conical breath.
The breath can take place from anterior to posterior, and posterior to anterior. You can exhale from anterior to posterior. You can inhale from posterior to anterior. All these graphic modulations of the breath take place in various asanas, which goes unnoticed [when] we… are obsessed with body activities, body positions.
Breath — Varies In Supine, Prone, Inverted Asana +36.50
We don’t really watch the breath. We are not even experiencing the breath in Tadasana, the upright standing position, or when inverted, like in Sirsasana. The breathing process is totally different between the upside down and [right side up] pole positions…. We don’t take cognizance of this. We only see the body… [in the] upright… and inverted position. We don’t look at the breath, how the breath takes place.
You are laying down in Supta Virasana. If you lay down in a prone position, you breathe differently. You will see how much the back is mobilized, when you’re lying down in a prone position. If you are on the right or left side, it’s a different kind of breathing. When you lay on a side, either right or left, you breathe differently. From prone to supine, we breathe differently. Now this is all a matter of study for you, as a student of yoga.
You did [Uddiyana] in Supta Virasana or Supta Baddha Konasana for the abdomen. Now [breathe] for the chest. See how many functions it can carry out in the chest. Inhalations and exhalations can work on the field of the chest. Volume: normal to hyper-normal. Velocity: from normal to hyper-normal, and from normal to hypo-normal.
You will carry out different operations on the thoracic. In different asanas you operate differently on the thoracic. How do you breathe in the chest when you are in Paschimottanasana? How do you breathe in the chest when you’re in Dhanurasana? Or Urdhva Dhanurasana…, or Chakrasana? The chest breathing will differ in a back arch from a front bending position, or in a lateral turning position. Survey… all of this to qualify and empower yourself to become students of pranayama.
In asana learn the breath dimensions. We want to do a good asana…, a proper asana, an intense an asana…. We want to be able to stay in an asana for a longer duration. We are not happy doing all asanas for a couple of microseconds. We want to stay in an asana.
There are different time scales for different asanas. In some asanas we stay for ten minutes, some… for a minute or two. And that is more than enough. Staying for a minute or two in Paripurna Matsyendrasana is almost equal to staying ten… or twenty minutes in Sirsasana. There are different time scales for asanas. The breath works differently in different time scales. All this field work is important for a student of pranayama in the classical approach.
Breathe For Senses In Supta Baddha Konasana +40.10
Now, for a while, do the breathing in the head and face region in Supta Virasana or Supta Baddha Konasana. See how the breathing is taking place for the face…, head, brain, skull, cortices, lobes, and even the senses.
The breathing is taking place for eyes. There is something called the ophthalmological breath and breathing, which a student of yoga should be… familiar with. Understand ophthalmological breathing in asana with reference to the… eyebrows, eyelids, eyeballs, pupils, corneas, retinas, and optic nerves…. See how the breath takes place for the cells, tissues, and matter of the eyes; and mind awareness of the eyes.
The breath is a great conditioner of the eyes. Ophthalmology has not studied the breath perspective and dimension of the eyes. Breath can also flow in, and around, the eyes. It can seep into the eyes. See how the exhalation… and inhalation can seep; how the exhalation… and inhalation will flow in the eyes. So, eye parts, nose part, mouth part, ear part.
Even in the mouth: [although] not breathing through the mouth…, the breath works on the mouth lips, teeth, jaw, palette, throat, tongue. Your exhalations can work on the parts of the mouth. It’s not inhaling and exhaling through the mouth. How the exhalations work on the parts of the mouth must be something with which a student of yoga is familiar with, knowledgeable about, and literate about.
We know that we breathe through the nose, but how the breath works on the nose is hardly considered. We breathe through the nose, but how does the breath interact with the nose? What functions will work on the nasal part? There are nasal parts, such as membranes, septum, gates of the nose, floors of the nostrils, roots of the nostrils, cavities of the nostrils. Carry out this field work in a survey, which is implied in the classical approach to taking up pranayama.
The breath can work on the senses, head, brain, face, skull, lobes and cortices. Find out how it might work, and how it works. Exhale, and inhale, in different qualities, in different densities, and different velocities.
You can’t do a pneumatic inhalation without a negative effect on the head and brain region. You can do a high velocity inhalation in the lungs, the abdomen, and in your back. You can’t do it in the head that way, [else] it will be atrocious. [Become] familiar with how the breath moves in this location [pointing to his face].
Pranayama — Study How Breath Moves in Body +43.50
How does the breath moves in the throat, chest, diaphragm, abdomen, umbilicus, pelvis…, lower back, and upper-back? These are different terrains for the breath to function, to move. This… must be [learned by] students of pranayama in the classical sense.
Otherwise…, we just embark upon some kind of pranayama which has come out of quackery. Pranayama is embarked through Ujjayi, Bhramari, Nadi Shodhana, Surya Bhedana, Chandra Bhedana, Anuloma, Pratiloma, to Bhastrika.
We are dealing with the breath, [but] are not considering how it works in different locations. It is [incorrectly] construed that Bhastrika only works in the head region, as you flush out your brain. You feel really light after a couple of rounds of Bhastrika — you feel lightness in the head. But… what does it do in the belly? What does it do to the chest? Should we not consider what it does to the back?
That’s because of the rampant quackery in yoga in the last… hundred and fifty years. There has been progressively [more] quackery…. It was less so fifty…, or a hundred years back. But quackery has become rampant these days. We must be cautious here. That’s why the classical approach is so important. It will set aside any quackery…. The point is we have to learn how the breath works.
Virasana — Spine as Breathing Organ +46.05
Now… sit in Virasana for a while and find out how much the breath can work for your back. How much the breath can work on your back…, for your back, and in your back….
The spine is also a breathing organ…. Sit in Swastikasana, or Virasana, and identify your spine…, back…, lower back…, mid-back…, and upper back as breathing organs.
The lower back is a fossilized region. The sacroiliac spine is a fused body of the spine…. Why not create some kind of seepage of the breath to defossilize the lower back…, the waist and below.
How much can you defossilize the buttock and hip region? Anatomy doesn’t tell you that your buttocks and hips are breathing organs. But, in a sitting position, how much can you explore that your buttocks, hips, and perineum are breathing organs? How much they can participate in breathing? How much they can be addressed by the breathing? How much can they address the breath and breathing?
Asana — Allocate 10% to Breath Study +47.30
For a while all these asanas should be learned in the dimension of breath, and breathing. Try it in all the asanas. That’s why I say that you should allocate at least 5-10% of the time in asana…, or the number of rounds you do of one asana…, to study of the breath — on the breath, by the breath, with the breath, and for the breath. That’s the breath dimension of all asanas. This must be highlighted. This must be sufficiently pursued to [become] qualified to do pranayama.
Asana — Breath Role in Psychodynamics +48.15
I want to conclude this session by giving a suggestion…. You do the asanas with various purposes. Sometimes you might do an asana because you are dull in body and mind. Sometimes you might do the same asana because you are hyperactive in body and mind, you are super mercurial in body and mind.
For instance, Sirsasana can be done [both] to electrify the inert mind, or to quiet the super mercurial mind…. Become aware of the many psychodynamics in asana.
Then, in the psychodynamics of asana, how does the breath come in different manifestations, in different avatars (divine incarnations)? It’s a very flexible force, it is a highly resourceful force, a resourceful agency. It comes in handy for every condition — a negative condition to be overcome, and a positive condition to be instated, augmented, and escalated.
We do asanas in different states of body and mind. However, the study of the breath must be formally studied for the students of pranayama in the classical approach. Every time you embark upon doing asana, make it a point, on that day, to dedicate some time, and allocate energy, to read the breath participation, involvement, addressals, addressing, as an instrument, benefactor and beneficiary. This study is so important to embark upon classical pranayama.
Asana Teaches Fundamentals of Pranayama +50:20
Asanas teach you some fundamentals of pranayama — breath uses, applications, processes, handling, and application. This education is so important.
The formal commencement of pranayama does not [entail] getting into pranayama straight away — which is a quack process. Because today in a pranayama session, the teacher will tell you to do some pranayama like Ujjayi, Kapalabhati, Bhramari, Surya Bhedana, Chandra Bhedana, Anuloma, or Pratiloma, etc. This is not the classical approach. Let’s [explore] this versatile agency of the breath in asana, which is done with different functions.
Some asanas are inhalative, some asanas are exhalative, some asanas are dynamic, some asanas are static, some asanas awaken body matter, some asanas rest body matter.
Identify Potentials of Breath to Regulate Asana +51.40
We have this enormous scheme for body and mind matters in asana. Let’s take this opportunity to understand how the breath works in such a versatile manner. It’s really a multitasking [agency], but we have not identified that.
We need to identify the potentials of the breath. Unless we identify the potentials of the breath, it is not really [logically] sound to regulate it. If you want to regulate me, try to know my potentials, and my traits. Try to know where I’m good, where I’m not so good, and where I’m so bad. Only then can you really be my regulator: [If] you don’t do this, you are not good here. Do this [to be] good here.
That means you must know my potentials. You must have a map of my potentials. You must have data of my potentials. You must have literacy about my potentials. Only then can you regulate me.
Otherwise, it is tyranny. Without considering my potential, abilities, capacities, and capabilities, you will just be a dictator to me. That’s not regulation. Let’s not be dictators of the breath: Inhale on the right, exhale on the right, etc. dictates. Let’s know their potentials…, inclinations, and resources.
A lot of study is required… in the realm of breath and breathing. And asana is a wonderful scheme, a wonderful academy, a wonderful field. So, let’s avail ourselves of it. This is one of the very fundamental lessons in pranayama.
With that, this session ends. Today you did Supta Virasana or Supta Baddha Konasana…. Study the breath and breathing in other poses — Janu Sirsasana, Marichyasana, Dhanurasana, Tadasana, Utkatasana, and Malasana. [Start with] Tadasana upright, then semi-sitting… in Utkatasana, and then go to Malasana. The breath changes in every [one]. We are just getting obsessed, carried away, by the body position, condition, profile, and state.
Breath — Watch to Prevent Maya +54.20
We must [escape from] the… gravity of maya (illusion). The more you are trying to watch your breath, the more you will be [weaned] away from maya. That’s the magic. The more you are getting entangled with the body and mind, the more you will enter the maya atmosphere. You’ll be caught in maya. The more you watch your breath and breathing, its functions, its roles, its acts, and its manifestations, [the more] you will be relieved of the grip of maya, which is so important in adhyatma, spirituality.
 Last time I said that there is a lot of mockery of pranayama going on: What Prashant disparagingly called “neo-yoga” has mistakenly substituted svasayama — respiratory breath — for pranayama. See “Pranayama — Breath is Vehicle of Prana Shakti +29.35,” Lesson 29: Pranayama — Vehicle of Prana Shakti 7-10-20 .
 Pranayama means Anuloma, Pratiloma, Surya Bhedana, Chandra Bhedana, and Nadi Shodhana pranayamas: Chandra Bhedana (“Moon Flow:” inhale L, exhale R); Surya Bhedana (“Sun Flow:” inhale R, exhale L) These digital pranayamas are described in B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Pranayama, New York: Crossroad, 1994.
 I said last time, they should commence in various asanas: Asanas will induct us to the enormous potentials of the breath. See “Pranayama Linked to Asana +44.15,” Lesson 29: Pranayama — Vehicle of Prana Shakti 7-10-20 .
 It’s not just because we breathe, that we live, and because we live, we do, manifest and function. The breath is an integral aspect to all functions of body and mind: Prashant has established that the breath cannot be separated from body and mind. He will go on to state 1) The breath must be objectified. (He used the term personified.) 2) The entity of the breath determines the purpose and action of body and mind. 3) The breath is not comparable to the flow of electricity that powers a light bulb. There is a spiritual role of the breath beyond mere respiration: Electricity cannot determine the purpose of light. [However, when light manifests, it promotes our ability to perceive. Thus, electricity can power perception. —BMR]
 There are physical activities of the body, sensory activities of the senses and, mental activities of the mind. Perhaps this is the entire circumference of our activity: While this very statement seems reductionist, physical activities refer to the karmendriyas (organs of action), sensory activities to the jnanendriyas (organs of sense), and mental activities to aspects of chitta (consciousness).
 The breath is not conditioned by karma. It is a force which comes from outside us, from nature, and goes back to nature: Patanjali has described inhalation as abhyantara — internalization of that which is external to us. Exhalation is bahya — externalization of that which has been within, a return to its external status. [PYS II.50]
 The more you are getting entangled with the body and mind, the more you will enter the maya atmosphere: Equating body and mind with maya suggests identification with prakrti in lieu of purusha. This is confirmed with the final term of the lesson, adhyatma, which conveys the pursuit of atman, the Self.