Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 42 - Is this Pranayama Natural?
Date: Thu Dec 11, 2003 5:16pm
Q: I am struggling to incorporate all the pieces involved in the spinal breathing, and am not getting much out of it so far. It seems contradictory to your repeated mention of how “natural” these practices are supposed to be. It is certainly different from meditation, which I find to be very easy and enjoyable. Is pranayama supposed to be easy and enjoyable too?
A: Yes, pranayama will become easy. And enjoyable is an understatement. Ecstatic is a better description for what pranayama becomes. It may take some time to get it together though. Take your time building up to it. Give it a fair chance in your regular practice, and you will not regret it. There will be help coming in the form of new elements of practice that will make pranayama much more pleasurable to do. You will learn how to light everything up from the inside. But first things first. Get the basic habits of practice in place. Over time, it gets progressively easier and more enjoyable. Meditation is easy and enjoyable from the start for most people. With pranayama, it might take a little longer.
Is pranayama natural? There is no doubt that pranayama, with all of its supplementary pieces, is a complex practice, and it may not feel natural at the start. However, as with meditation, pranayama is tapping a natural ability inherent in us. In the case of meditation, it is the mind’s natural ability to become quiet and experience pure bliss consciousness. Just set up the proper condition in meditation and the mind becomes quiet all by itself. In the case of pranayama, we are tapping the nervous system’s natural ability to refine and become ecstatically radiant from within. Setting up the initial conditions takes more doing. But once we have taken the necessary steps through pranayama, the condition of ecstatic radiance comes up naturally. Once it gets going, it is completely automatic. It is then that you know without any doubt that your body was designed to sustain divine ecstasy – quite a revelation. Just as inner silent bliss consciousness is our natural state brought up through meditation, so too is ecstatic radiance our natural state brought up through pranayama. Once stimulated through pranayama, ecstatic radiance deepens in meditation. Pranayama cultivates the soil of our nervous system to the point where meditation is capable of yielding a dynamic flowering of pure bliss consciousness. Pranayama enables the silent seed we are awakening in meditation to grow into ecstatic radiance, and this overflows generously into our daily life.
The objective here is to structure the advanced yoga practices to be as easy as possible, and be pleasurable and fun. Otherwise, not many will want to bother with it. Patient persistence will sometimes be required during formative stages of practice. With your ongoing commitment to daily practice, experiences will keep advancing. In time, you will be rushing to get to your meditation seat, because the ecstasy coming up there will be so great. Then, before you know it, the ecstasy will be everywhere. The whole world will be transforming before your loving eyes.
The guru is in you.