Lesson 32: Online Education in Yoga by Sri Prashant S Iyengar recorded 8-14-20
Vayu (Air) & Prana Separated by Eight Generations
Last time, we were discussing the confusion between vayu (air) and prana. The five vayus and the five pranas have the same names. Therefore, those who are not familiar with the esoteric aspects of pranayama can become confused. The pancha vayu (five airs) are: prana-apana-samana-vyana-udana….
There is confusion because of the [same] nomenclature. Most of us consider breathing as prana, prana as breathing. But that is layman’s naïve understanding….
The vayus must be always referred with vayu attached to the name: Prana vayu, apana vayu, samana vayu, vyana vayu, udana vayu. Vayus should not just be denoted by prana, apana, samana, vyana, and udana. That is only possible for the pranas. In classical yoga prana, apana, samana, vyana, and udana refer to the pranas, not to the vayus. When it refers to vayus, then… the suffix of vayu must be attached in formal yoga.
I also made a point that there is a big difference, generation-wise, between prana and vayu. There is a difference of almost eight generations… between prana and vayu. Eight generations is an… enormous difference, a substantial difference, a characteristic difference. Therefore there’s no room for confusion between the five pranas, and five vayus…. [although they have] the same nomenclature. However, the surname vayu must be attached to vayus.
Then, as I said, there is a distance of eight generations between prana and vayu. How is that a distance of eight generations? In Samkhya the mula-prakrti (root of prakrti) is the first principle, the primordial principle. From that pradhana (“first, primary:” the principal unevolved matter in Yoga), from avyakta (“uncreated:” mula-prakrti), from noumenal, primordial matter, comes the first mutation called mahat (“great” in Yoga), which is rendered as the intelligence principle in English.
Prana is an offshoot of the mahat tattva (principle). From mula-prakrti, comes not only the mahat, but also the prana.  The mahat – buddhi tattva, and prana are contemporaries according to the Vedantic process. Vedanta has divulged this.
From mahat, the next generation is ahamkara. That is the first generation from mahat. The second generation is shabda tanmatra (sound subtle sense); third generation is sparsha tanmatra (touch). Then comes rupa tanmatra (form), then rasa tanmatra (taste), then gandha tanmatra (smell), then comes akasha tattva (space), and then vayu tattva (air). There is a difference of, and distance of, eight generations. If prana is contemporary of mahat, then there is a distance of eight generations.
The prana doesn’t generate… any progeny.
But mahat has progeny. Mahat, ahamkara, shabda tanmatra, sparsha tanmatra, rupa tanmatra, rasa tanmatra, gandha tanmatra, akasha tattva, and, then, vayu tattva. The pancha vayus come in the generation of the vayu tattva. All these pancha vayus are vayus. That is why I said there is a big difference between prana tattva and vayu tattva.
If you count, it is distance of eight generations between the pancha pranas and pancha vayus. If mahat and prana come at the number two position, the vayu tattva comes in the ninth position. The pancha vayu comes there. Therefore, there should be no mix up between prana and vayu. Which is the case for neophytes, or those who are not really well initiated.
Five Pranas, Four Prana Kriyas +06.20
One more thing which I made clear last time is that there are only four kriyas (actions) of the pancha (five) pranas and four kriyas of the pancha vayus. The pancha pranas don’t have five kriyas…. They have four kriyas. Vyana is a common factor [to each]…. In precise technical terms, the prana kriya is prana vyana kriya. Apana kriya is apana vyana kriya. Samana kriya is samana vyana kriya. Udana kriya is udana vyana kriya. These are the four kriyas for five pranas.
Similarly, in the case of vayus, it is not just prana vayu kriya: it is prana vyana vayu kriya. It is not just apana vayu kriya: it is apana vyana vayu kriya. Similarly, samana vyana vayu kriya and udana vyana vayu kriya. So, there are four kriyas with respect to pancha pranas and pancha vayus. That is enough for the time being to decipher the difference between prana tattva and the vayu tattva, or pancha pranas and pancha vayus.
Pranayama Differs From Shvasayama — Desha Kala Samkhya Paridrshtah +07.50
How does breathing become pranic breathing? If you recall, I said when the matrkas (divine mothers) are used it becomes prana kriya. The breath… of vayu kriya, and prana kriya, do not change with respect to the physical dimensions of volume, velocity, density, confines, or graphic modes…. It is done with one and the same instrument…. But in prana kriya, svara varanas (sacred vowels) are used for amantraka (unaccompanied by mantra) pranayama, and nama (divine name) mantras used for samantraka (accompanied with mantra). Then it becomes pranayama. Without that, it would be shvasayama (restraint of breath).
In Patanjali’s scheme, just… inhaling, exhaling, or retaining, doesn’t make it pranayama… or even shvasayama. Just inhaling is not shvasayama, just exhaling is not shvasayama. Just exhaling slowly, deeply, completely, or soft inhalation and exhalation is not shvasayama. Even retention after exhalation or inhalation is not shvasayama.
How does it become an ayama (restraint)? Patanjali has given the scheme of stambha (cessation), kala (duration), desha (place). His sutra is:
|| bahya abhyantara stambha vrttih desha kala samkhyabhih paridrshtah dirgha suksmah ||
(Pranayama has three) movements (vrttis): prolonged (dirgha) and fine (sukshma) inhalation (abhyantara), exhalation (bahya) and (stable) retention (stambha vrtti); (all) regulated (paridrshta) with precision (samkhya) (according to) duration (kala) and place (desha; also referring scope and breadth). [PYS II.50]
This paridrshtah (regulatory) aspect makes it ayama (restraint).
Now, paridrshtata of what? Desha (place), kala (duration), and samkhya (precision). These are the three factors. Regulation takes place with the assistance of, or within the framework of, desha paridrshtata (regulation of place), kala paridrshtata (regulation of duration), samkhya paridrshtata (regulation of technique).
Whether it is shvasayama, or pranayama, just one deep, conditioned breath, or slow and deep breath, or complete breath, is not going to make it shvasayama. It must be desha paridrshtata, confined to a region. Or within a frame of a region…, a velocity pattern…, or number of cycles. So, this is how ayama (restraint) takes place — [through] desha, kala, and samkhya.
Pranayama— Desha Paridrshta (Regulation by Place) +11.30
Desha means what? Desha means a region in the body, such as the nose, mouth, throat, chest, diaphragm; abdominal, navel, or pelvic region. These are the schemes.
There must be schematization based on desha paridrshtata. Desha means region-wise. If the breath is confined to the pelvic abdominal region, it will be one kind of breath. If confined to the chest, it will be another kind of breath.
The pelvic abdominal-confined breath has one function, the chest… another function. Head and brain…, the back…, and diaphragm have yet another function. So, by desha, the… function of the breath changes; the process of the breath changes. That’s how it is regulated.
Pranayama— Inflate Chest, Not Brain, Abdomen, or Pelvis +12.35
I will give you a simple example. If you’re doing a pelvic abdominal inhalation, you’re not supposed to inflate the pelvic abdominal region. You’re not supposed to bloat, dilate, puff, open, or inflate pelvic abdominal region.
But when the same breath is confined to the chest, it’s a different terrain. Then you will go for expansion, dilation, and inflation. The chest has to be opened while you’re inhaling. Your pelvic… abdominal region should not be opened while you are inhaling.
The brain should not be inflated while you’re inhaling in the brain confines. When the breath is driven in different terrains, locations, or confines, the drives differ. You’re not supposed to inflate the brain by inhaling more. You’re supposed to inflate the chest when you’re inhaling more. You’re not supposed to inflate your belly while you’re working with the abdominal confines.
If you’re inhaling in the pelvic-perineal region, you’re not supposed to inflate that part. As a matter of fact, there’ll be contraction when you inhale in the hip and perineum region. There’ll be suction-contraction when you inhale, particularly in the [straight] position. Try this out.
But if you’re inhaling in the chest region, the chest will expand…, dilate…, inflate…, and puff. It should be done that way. But… you don’t inflate your back if it is a back-confined inhalation. You won’t inflate the brain when it is a brain-confined inhalation. This is very important field work that one has to carry out to really embark upon pranayama.
Try to understand how you inhale differently, and should inhale differently, between the anal mouth – perineum, hip, pelvis-navel, abdomen, diaphragm, to chest and breast confines; then back…, to head, brain, and face confines.
These are different terrains in which the breath is moved, and, therefore, different conditions. While inhaling, the pelvic [region] contracts… and the chest [region] inflates, dilates. In the brain [region] there is neither inflation, nor even deflation, nor even suction. In the pelvic region there will be suction and contraction. In the brain region… there should not be suction – contraction. In the chest region, there is inflation, but not in the brain region.
These aspects of ayama have to be understood by selecting different confines. The function… and manifestation of the breath will change. The functions, roles, and manifestations of inhalation, exhalation, and the two retentions will change when you go by desha paridrshtata — which is the scheme given by Patanjali. It is such an important scheme.
Experiment with this. Try inhaling on your own in the different confines to see how their actions, reactions, responses, and manifestations differ. So, also, in the case of exhalation. If the exhalation is confined to the pelvis, deflate the pelvis. But if the exhalation is confined to the chest, or brain…, you should not deflate it. Exhalation in the back is one kind of dynamics, in the abdominal-pelvic region another kind of dynamics. Diaphragm-chest-breast [yields] another kind of dynamics, and head-brain-face-skull another kind of dynamics. So, you will know how the ayama (restraint) aspect comes by desha paridrshtata (regulation according to region).
Pranayama— Kala Paridrshta (Regulation by Duration) of Volume & Velocity +17.10
The second one is kala paridrshtata. Kala means the time duration. The time duration of your in-breath and out-breath depends upon two factors.
One is volume. It may take a longer time if the volume is greater. If you’re going to inhale… or exhale a greater volume, it might take more time.
The other factor is velocity. If you slow down your inhalation, it [will] take more time. If you drop the velocity of your inhalation, it will take a longer time. If you drop the velocity of exhalation, it will take a longer time. So, the kala paridrshtata has these two dimensions. One dimension is volume, the other is velocity. Then, of course, there [is] the combination of the two.
If, in pranayama, you are supposed to make your breath thinner and thinner, rarefied, finer and super fine, it will take a longer time. If you make your exhalation sharper and thicker, it will take a shorter time.
Similarly, in the case of inhalation, if you make your inhalation rarefied, thin, waft, delicate, tender, it is going to take a longer duration. Or, if you increase the volume of your inhalation, it is going to take a longer duration, as well.
Again, the combination of the two — the velocity and volume of inhalation — will again work on the time factor, duration factor, kala. So, the breath will be conditioned by time in two ways. One is velocity, the other is volume, and… the combination of the two as well.
Carry out some experimentation, observation, and field work with respect to the kala paridrshtata. [When] it depends upon the qualitative improvement of the breath in terms of rarity…, super fineness…, tenderness…, delicateness and a wafting condition, it’s going to take a longer time. And, of course, the volume on the other hand. So, some study, and observation needs to be carried out with regards to the kala paridrshtata, which depends upon the two factors….
Pranayama— Samkhya Paridrshta (Regulation by Cycles) +20.10
The [third] one is samkhya paridrshtata. Pranayama is not done in one cycle. One cycle of conditioned breath doesn’t make it pranayama, or even shvasayama. Just one cycle of breath, or just one inhalation, will not make it shvasayama and pranayama.
Even if there is desha paridrshtata and kala paridrshtata, there must be a number of cycles replicated. A number of homogeneous cycles. A number of identical cycles. This is the third aspect of ayama, or regulation, where there are multiple cycles, and definitely more than one cycle.
Two identical cycles in scheme and process, will become shvasayama or pranayama. Three, four, or five cycles that way will make it pranayama….
Just one conditioned, regulated cycle doesn’t make it pranayama or shvasayama. There must be more than one cycle. Only after multiple cycles — two and more —will it become ayama, in case of shvasayama and pranayama.
Pranayama— Stages of Desha, Kala, Samkhya Regulation +21.40
Patanjali has introduced us to this scheme of desha, kala, samkhya. We must carry out exercises to develop some familiarity with the desha paridrshtata, kala paridrshtata, and samkhya paridrshtata. We’ll have to go through certain exercises where [a single] dimension of regulation is applied. There are three dimensions to be applied, but first you have to try one dimension — just the desha. Then just the kala. And then just the samkhya.
Then comes the second stage, where you’ll have to work with desha plus kala; handling both desha and kala. Or handling both desha plus samkhya. Or handling both samkhya and kala.
This is the two-dimensional approach, where you have to work simultaneously with two regulation factors. So, there’s one-dimensional regulation, where this is either desha, or kala, or samkhya.
When you are sufficiently proficient [with] some control in the second stage…, then go for two-dimensional regulation. That is desha-kala regulation, desha-samkhya regulation, or kala-samkhya regulation
When you can govern that too, then you have to go for desha-kala-samkhya.
There are three-dimensional exercises to learn the regulation: [first] uni-regulation, then bi-regulation and tri-regulation…. One, two, three. One — just desha, just kala, just samkhya. Two — desha and kala simultaneously, desha and samkhya simultaneously, kala and samkhya simultaneously. And when some proficiency is attained, then you have to go to three-dimensional which is desha-kala-samkhya.
These are three sets of exercises to be attempted for both shvasayama and pranayama.
Dirgha — Long Duration of Pranayama +24.35
Then, Patanjali also mentioned the other aspects —
| desha kala samkhyabhih paridrshtah dirgha suksmah ||
…prolonged (dirgha) and fine (sukshma)… (all) regulated (paridrshta) with precision (samkhya) (according to) duration (kala) and place (desha) [PYS II.50]
What is the meaning of dirghatva (prolongation) here? And what is the meaning of sukshmatva (subtlety) here? It is not the dirghatva of the inhalation, exhalation or retention. When Patanjali refers to dirghatva, it is not duration of inhalation…., exhalation…, or retention. Then, what is it?
Dirghatva is the long duration of pranayama. That is, doing pranayama for five to ten minutes, like what we might be familiar with. We know there is a progression. We want to progress: If we have done pranayama for 5-7 minutes, we want to try 7-10 minutes. When the 7-10 minutes have been attained, we want to go for 10-12 minutes, and then 12-15 minutes, to advance. We have to attempt the longer duration of pranayama — the… replicated desha-kala-samkhya over a longer period of time….
Learning to do Ujjayi pranayama or Viloma pranayama is not just the lesson. Try to do the Ujjayi where you have applied the conditions for a longer duration of time…. A replicated kind of shvasayama – pranayama with a greater number of cycles will show your progress. If that regresses, that means you have devolved.
What is this dirghatva (prolongation) of pranayama, explained in the pedantics? We can only imagine pranayama for 5 -10 – 20 – 45 minutes, or an hour, [and mistakenly conclude]. “Oh if somebody does pranayama for 1 hour, that must be a master!” No, that is not a fact. The commentators, and the yogis, have made it clear that dirghata means… pranayama over a long, long, long time, in terms of days, weeks, months, years, decades, and centuries.
Yogis in the Himalayas appear to be almost like stone. Yogis have frozen into a state of yoga and they have been there for decades and centuries. When it comes to a yogi that’s the meaning of dirghata.
When it comes to you and me, dirghata means what? “Well, I was doing it for 10 minutes, [but] now I started doing it for half an hour. So now I am doing pranayama for a longer time. I was doing it for half an hour, now I can do it for 45 minutes. I was doing for 45 minutes, and now I can do it for an hour…. I can do it for more than an hour.” That’s all the dirghata that we can imagine for ourselves. It will be like that for us.
But, ultimately for yogis, the dirghata pranayama extends to multiple days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, and millennia. That’s the meaning of dirghata.
Subtle Breathing in Pranayama +29.00
What is sukshmata (subtlety) for us? The very fine, silky, thin, tender, fine and super fine breathing — this is what we imagine by sukshmata. But that is not the pedantic meaning of sukshmata.
The breathing of yogi will be so subtle, so very subtle, that the yogi’s electrical heartbeat will also [stop]. We have heard cases of some yogis who have stopped the electrical beating of the heart, and [after] the medicos declared them dead, they have come back to life.
They… could not feel the arterial pulse, the heartbeat…. The breath becomes so subtle for a yogi, that these things are not there. Nothing vibrates in the very deep hibernation of physiology…, cellular physiology…, psychology and mind-ology of a yogi, that nothing vibrates, even for a machine. The breath is so subtle: that is the meaning of subtle.
The meaning of subtle breath for us is very fine, thin, linear and thin, fine and subtle, tender and soft, and waft and delicate breath. But in case of a yogi, that is the meaning of sukshmata.
But then at our hierarchy, we should try to work on increasing the duration of pranayama. If you’re able to regulate the shvasa (breath) or prana, it must be progressive. So, we’ll have to [aim] towards that also. How will the duration of pranayama increase? How will the duration of shvasayama increase? How will the duration of retention increase? How will the duration of kumbhaka increase?
What is sukshmata (subtlety) for us? More and more rarefied, as far as possible rarefied, breath. As far as possible fine and super fine and microscopically fine. That is what is we have to attempt in this kind of conditioning which is dirghata and sukshmata.
So, there are five kinds of conditions suggested by Patanjali — desha paridrshtata, kala paridrshtata, samkhya paridrshtata, and then, dirghata and sukshmata. These are the five factors we have to exercise. Understand these concepts and develop the necessary capacities.
Pranayama— Kumbhaka Regulated by Desha, Kala & Samkhya +32.20
Then comes the kumbhaka (retention). The kumbhaka also has desha, kala, and samkhya paridrshtata. There is desha related kumbhaka — pelvic-confined kumbhaka, abdomen-confined kumbhaka, diaphragm-confined kumbhaka, chest-confined kumbhaka, back-confined kumbhaka, and spine-confined kumbhaka.
There are all retentions — stambha pranayama and kumbhaka pranayama. We will only be doing stambha pranayama, but not kumbhaka pranayama. I will explain shortly about this.
So, there is desha paridrshtata in the bahya (external) vrtti, abhyantara (internal) vrtti, and stambha (cessation) vrtti. There is samkhya paridrshtata (regulation of cycles) of bahya vrtti, abhyantara vrtti, and stambha vrtti….
Abhyantara Bahya Stambha Vrtti are not Puraka Rechaka Kumbhaka +33.30
We all inhale and retain. We exhale and retain. That is very much within our scope. We can inhale and retain the breath. We can exhale and retain the breath. Retention is not kumbhaka, as much as puraka is not inhalation, and rechaka not exhalation. That’s why Patanjali has used the words bahya vrtti, abhyantara vrtti, and stambha vrtti.
In the case of you and me, who are not proficient yogis, we’ll be doing inhalation and exhalation, and post-inhalation retention and post-exhalation retention. So bahya vrtti is done, abhyantara vrtti is done, and stambha vrtti is done.
But in the case of a yogi, there is a condition that [just] happens…. Asanas happen for a proficient yogi. [Unskilled] people… have to do it to accomplish it, whereas for a yogi it will happen. So, in the case of a yogi, all these things start happening. When they start happening, then it becomes puraka (inhalation), rechaka (exhalation), and kumbhaka (retention).
The inhalation of a proficient yogi is [aptly] called puraka, but our inhalation should not be called puraka. That is not precise. That does not have a classical bearing.
Although you might retain the breath, it doesn’t become kumbhaka. You might have an internal retention and external retention, but it doesn’t become abhyantara kumbhaka and bahya kumbhaka. It is only in case of a yogi — because of his qualification — that his inhalation breath becomes puraka in pranayama, and his exhalation breath becomes rechaka in pranayama.
There’s a big difference between our qualification of inhalation and exhalation, and yogi’s qualification of inhalation and exhalation. Or, the qualification of our in-breath and out-breath, and the qualification of the in-breath and out-breath of a yogi. The qualifications differ, and significantly differ. [Only] with that qualification they’re to be called puraka, and rechaka.
Therefore, the kumbhaka will come, if there is a puraka. The kumbhaka will come if there is a rechaka. Kumbhaka will not come in our abhyantara vrtti shvasa (uncontrolled inhalation). Or our bahya vrtti prashvasa (uncontrolled exhalation). Kumbhaka will not come there.
When the technical processes have been completely adhered to, without a compromise, while inhalation… and exhalation are happening, then it is puraka and rechaka respectively. And therefore, the kumbhaka…, retention, happening in such process, gets called kumbhaka.
So puraka – kumbhaka – rechaka is only a yogi’s pranayama, not your pranayama and not my pranayama. We do shvasa-prashvasa. Shvasa pranayama, prashvasa pranayama. Therefore, it will be only… stambhanam, and not kumbhaka. We can retain the breath. However, it won’t become a kumbhaka.
When all the governing factors are adhered to, and accomplished, while you are inhaling, then it becomes puraka. While the same is happening in exhalation it will be rechaka. Therefore, when it happens after such a puraka, it will be a kumbhaka. After such rechaka, it will be a kumbhaka….
It is fashionable to call inhalation puraka, exhalation rechaka and, then, retention kumbhaka. This has no validity in the… pedagogy of yoga.
A yogi’s breath becomes puraka, rechaka, kumbhaka. Our breath doesn’t become puraka, rechaka, kumbhaka, because of lots of shortcomings…, compromises…, and pilferage in our process of inhaling and exhaling. Therefore, those terms cannot be used in our pranayama.
Pranayama — Nadis are not Nostrils +38.50
Then, a more fascinating aspect is nasal pranayama these days. Pranayama people embark upon nasal pranayama, and then know [of] the ida-pingala-sushumna (left, right, central channels), chandra (moon) nadi, surya (sun) nadi and shunya nadi.
The right nostril [houses] the surya nadi. The left nostril [houses] the chandra nadi. Therefore, people [mistakenly] think that if they inhale through the right nostril, it becomes surya nadi pranayama. If they exhale through the right nostril, it becomes surya nadi pranayama.
If they do on the left nostril, in-breath or out-breath, it becomes chandra nadi pranayama. That is very naïve. It’s not just the nostril. There are nadis in the nostrils. The breath is through those nadis, not through the nostril…. The right nostril has the surya nadi, but the whole of the right nostril is not the surya nadi. The left nostril has the chandra nadi, but the whole left nostril is not the chandra nadi. The nadi doesn’t have the dimension of our nostrils.
You know the dimension of the nostrils, and the gates — the openings — of the nostrils. Or that the whole hole of the nostril… is not the nadi. There is a nadi in that nostril. When [pranayama] happens through the nadi, it should be called surya nadi. Just inhaling on the right, or doing shvasayama on the right, doesn’t [make it] surya nadi pranayama, or even shvasayama. By just doing on the left nostril, it doesn’t become chandra nadi shvasayama or pranayama. It has to flow through that particular nadi.
We have to understand how marvelous the organ of the nose is. Statistically, let me tell you that there are not only 350 nadis in the right nostril, and 350 nadis in the left nostril for pranayama, but countless, countless nadis! The 350 number I gave you [is derived from] the number of vowels and consonants. Akara (forms) diksha (consecrated) akaranta (inner form). When you vowelize them, you get that 350-odd number.
They don’t have only 350 nadis for each sound form, but a countless [number]. Why? Listen to this. In the right nostril…, where you have the surya nadi, there are 350 prana nadis. Then, in the right nostril you [also] have prthvi, ap, tejas, vayu, akasha (earth, water, fire, air, space tattvas). So pancha tattva kriya and pancha prana kriya of the right nostril is, again, a huge set. [These also exist in the left.]
Then, the shat (six) chakras. The right nostril has a shat chakra scheme. The left nostril, too, has a shat chakra scheme. So right and left nostril have these schemes….
Then, the pancha tattvas (five principles) — those 9 + 9 = 18, + 1 = 19. How is it 9 + 9? Say, [for] prthvi — la, laa, li, lu, le, lai, lo, lau, lah — [there are] nine [prana kriyas]. Lum, lam, lim, lum, lem, laim, lom, laum, laham are another nine [that constitute the tattva kriyas]. [Plus] lum as a bija mantra. So, there are many nadis of the prthvi…, ap…, tejas…, vayu…, and akasha tattvas. There are five principles (tattvas) — prthvi, ap, tejas, vayu, akasha. So (9 + 9 + 1) [times] 5 [results in] so many nadis.
Pranayama — Chakra & Prana Kriya +43.40
Then comes the shat (six) chakras…. The shat chakras have their formulae: vam, sham, scham, sam [are the chakra kriya sound forms on the petals of the] muladhara chakra…. Then you have the prana kriya, their va, sh, ssh, su, va, sha, ssha, sa, vi, shi, sshi, si, etc.
Then svadhishtana has 6 letters – bam, bham, mam, yam, ram, lam. Again, you’ll be able to use the prana kriya, tattva kriyas, so that’s the formulae of the svadhishtana chakra.
The manipuraka chakra has 10, anahata has 12, vishuddhi has 16, ajna has 2 [chakra sound forms].
All those have gates in the nostrils. There will be muladhara surya, muladhara chandra, svadhishtana surya and chandra, manipuraka surya and chandra. Each nostril… controls the 6 chakras, and pancha tattvas. Therefore there are an n number of nadis in each of the nostrils….
Nasal pranayama doesn’t come in our syllabus, although it is taught in… today’s quackery…. If you’re not taught pranayama with the fingers on the nose, you’ll feel you’re not taught pranayama. That is why the nasal, or the hand-nostril combination in pranayama, has come [to be taught] very, very, very prematurely in the modern world. We don’t really qualify….
It is a long way to experiment, observe, explore without using the hands on the nostrils. But there is a fascination about how we use the hands on the nostrils….
Pranayama Mudra +46.15
Bear in mind that only right hand should be used on the nostrils, not the left. This is a basic, first rule. Only in the case of a contingency, you might use the left. Otherwise, it should be always done with the right hand. Never also by the left hand. Contingency is the only exception.
Do not try, for variety’s sake, “Let me do the right hand digital pranayama, then later let me try the left hand digital pranayama: Surya Bhedana of the right hand, then Surya Bhedana with the left hand. Or Anuloma, or Pratiloma, of the right hand and then same with the left hand.”
No, only the right hand should be used, except for exceptional conditions, such as not having a right hand at all…. Or some problem with the right hand. If the right hand cannot be lifted and used, then the left hand may be used. Otherwise, it should not be used, [to provide] variety.
Look into Light on Pranayama to learn how to place the fingers. In the classical approach, only the thumb, along with ring finger and small finger, is used. Never use the index finger and middle finger to block the nostrils. They not should be used at all. Whereas, in fashionable pranayama, we see that there are many schools who are doing pranayama by [mistakenly] using those, the two fingers or the forefingers on the left nostril and thumb on the right nostril. Those should be folded in.
There is a mudra for pranayama. Look into any classical book of pranayama, or Light on Pranayama, where Guruji has shown how to use the palm with the folded-in index and middle fingers, and the thumb and ring finger and small finger used in bent condition, not straight conditions. So, the thumb should not be straight on the right nostril, and the ring finger-small finger should not be straight on the left nostril. They must be curved. They must be bent. They must be rounded.
Where should the fingers come? The thumb and fingers should come right below the nasal bone. Take your hand on the nose, and feel the nasal bone…. The placement is right below where the nasal bone [ends]. There is lot of skill aspect there….
But there is a long way to go for nasal pranayama. That’s why, it is very prematurely attempted in the modern world. If you’re a classical student, or have a classical approach, postpone it until you have discovered the nasal potentials, and have gone through these ayamas (restraints) which just now I have mentioned.
The next session will be commencing with a fascinating aspect of the enormous shvasayama pranayamic pranayama kriyas even for us. They are nearly seventy…. Seven zero. So, we will start the next session with that. And [add a] little bit more about the fingers on the nostrils, where we are ending today.
 Prana is an offshoot of the mahat tattva (principle). From mula-prakrti, comes not only the mahat, but also the prana: Although it appears that Prashant is saying that prana originates from two different sources — both as an offshoot of mahat, and from mula-prakrti, his next statement that mahat and prana are contemporaries implies that both originate from mula-prakrti.
 The pancha pranas don’t have five kriyas…. They have four kriyas. Vyana is a common factor [to each]…. In precise technical terms, the prana kriya is prana vyana kriya: 1) Kriya literally means act. Prana kriya is a non-vocalized silent oration of a single-letter sound form (akshara) in breathing. It uses each of the 50 characters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each akshara does not merely represent a literal letter of the alphabet, but, rather, a consecrated form of energy that has an inner meaning. [See Lesson 29: Pranayama — Vehicle of Prana Shakti .] 2) Since the vyana prana is all-inclusive and not limited to any specific region, technically it should be combined, in this case, with the specific prana of the chest region, i.e. prana vyana. Likewise, the specific apana of the pelvic region is technically apana vyana, and so on. 3) Since the vayus are also divided fivefold, with the same nomenclature as the pranas, the prana vayu of the chest region should be formally designated prana vyana vayu, etc. 4) Pranayama may also be divided up according to the same series of regional designations: prana-vyanayama, apana vyanayama, samana vyanayama, udana vyanayama, whereby each of the four pranas is combined with the all-over vyana prana. See “Prana Classifications +41.15,” Lesson 29: Pranayama — Vehicle of Prana Shakti.
 when the matrkas (divine mothers) are used it becomes prana kriya: This emphasizes the divine aspect of pranayama, as opposed to shvasayama, restraint of breath. The seven matrkas (mother goddesses) are derived of their male counterparts: Brahmani emerged from Brahma, Vaishnavi from Vishnu, Maheshvari from Shiva…. See “Sahasrara Chakra — Comprised of All Aksharas (Energy Forms) +03.25,” Lesson 27: Pranamaya Kosha—Five Pranas 6-27-20 .
 But in prana kriya, svara varanas (sacred vowels) are used for amantraka (unaccompanied by mantra) pranayama, and nama (divine name) mantras used for samantraka (accompanied with mantra) pranayama: See “Prana Classifications +41.15,” Lesson 29: Pranayama—Prana Shakti Vehicle 7-10-20 .
 We have to attempt the longer duration of pranayama — the… replicated desha-kala-samkhya over a longer period of time: The emphasis on pranayama practice over a long period of time is consistent with Patanjali’s definition of practice. Practice is further defined by nairantarya, continuity. PYS I.14 Long (dirgha-kala), uninterrupted (nairantarya) and alert (satkara) practice is the firm foundation (drdha-bhumih) for restraining the fluctuations.
 Kumbhaka will not come in our abhyantara vrtti shvasa (uncontrolled inhalation). Or our bahya vrtti prashvasa (uncontrolled exhalation): Shvasa and prashvasa have been described as signs of the obstacles of yoga by Patanjali. See PYS I.31 Pain (duhkha), despair (daur-manasya), limb-shakiness (angam-ejayatva), and erratic inhalation and exhalation (shvasa-prashvasa) accompany (sahabhuva) a distracted (vikshepa) chitta.
 a more fascinating aspect is nasal pranayama these days: This continues the discussion from Lesson 29: “Ida & Pingala Nadi Pranayama +38.55,”Pranayama—Prana Shakti Vehicle 7-10-20 ; and Lesson 30: “Pranayama Mudra,” Breath Circulation in Asana 7-17-20.
 Akara (forms) diksha (consecrated) akaranta (inner form): The vowels and consonants are not literal letters. They are consecrated energy forms depicted on the petals of the chakras. They are matrkas (divine mothers). See “Sahasrara Chakra — Comprised of All Aksharas (Energy Forms) +03.25,” Lesson 27: Pranamaya Kosha—Five Pranas 6-27-20 .
 in the right nostril you [also] have prthvi, ap, tejas, vayu, akasha (earth, water, fire, air, space tattvas): Here these five elements operate as essential metaphysical principles, not as worldly gross elements. In the devotional sense, we are graced by the deification of these elements. [Prashant Iyengar, Yogasana: The 18 Mahakriyas of Yogasana, Pune: RIMYI 2013. P. 158]
 lum as a bija mantra: The pancha tattvas have the bija (seed) mantras — lum, vum, rum, yum, hum — for the five elements. See “Prana & Tattva Kriyas Paramount in Asana & Pranayama +35.20,” Lesson 28: Karma & Karmaphala 6-28-20 .
 The shat chakras have their formulae: vam, sham, scham, sam [are the chakra kriya sound forms on the petals of the] muladhara chakra: These chakra kriya sound forms are associated with the earth element. Although pronounced with a short u sound in English — vum, shum, schum, sum — they are written with a short a: vam, sham, scham, sam. See “Pancha Tattvas (Five Essential Principles) & Chakra Kriyas +40.25,” Lesson 19:Vachika Kriya (Part 3) .
 only right hand should be used on the nostrils, not the left…. Only in the case of a contingency, you might use the left: This is the traditional approach. However, when Geeta Iyengar injured her right hand, she resorted to using her left hand. She taught us how to alternate hands. I believe that is the contingency Prashant must be citing.
 The placement is right below where the nasal bone [ends]: If the fingers are not curved, the tips of the thumb and ring finger cannot be accurately placed at the junction of the nasal bone and flesh