Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 49 - Perspiration in Pranayama
Date: Tue Dec 16, 2003 0:35pm
Q: Pranayama before meditation is great. I can really tell the difference since we started pranayama. When I am doing spinal breathing, I feel like I am really sinking my teeth into something. After I breathe slowly for ten minutes, I am sometimes covered with perspiration. I don’t get out of breath or hot or anything. My heart rate doesn’t go up. I am just sweating like crazy. Is this a normal experience?
A: Yes, it is normal. It is a good thing. It is a direct symptom of purification going on in your nervous system as prana flows through in increasing amounts. You are not doing aerobic exercise, or anything physical that would cause such perspiration. It is the internal exercise of prana moving on the nerves that is driving the perspiration out through your body, carrying impurities with it.
The sweating will not last forever. Gradually, as the body becomes more purified, the perspiration will become less. Other experiences will be coming up that indicate purification also. These will be more subjective, internal sensory experiences. With pranayama, we begin with the physical and work our way inward, opening and enlivening the spinal nerve as the master control of the whole nervous system. With meditation, we dive completely beyond the mind and body and work our way outward as pure bliss consciousness. With these two approaches, we have the deep obstructions surrounded and are flushing them out in large quantities. Sometimes we can actually see it happening with our eyes. Hence the perspiration.
If discomfort, restlessness or irritability accompany the purification process, make sure to take an appropriate amount of time to rest when coming out at the end of meditation. The importance of adequate rest at the end of practice was covered in the meditation Q&As. Usually, pranayama will not lead to discomfort in meditation. It almost always has a calming and deepening effect. But anything is possible as the body is being purified, so be mindful about following the guidelines for dealing with the uncomfortable experiences that can come up from time to time. It is all the process of purification, and we each will experience it in different ways. So it is important that we each supervise our own practice. We should know our strengths, and take advantage of them. We should also know our limits, and work within them.
As a practical matter, if you are soaking wet at the end of pranayama, take a few minutes to dry off before meditating. Change your clothes if it helps you be more comfortable. It is not necessary to meditate in a puddle of your perspiration. But do not delay the start of meditation for more than a few minutes after completing pranayama. We want to carry the effects of pranayama into our meditation.
The guru is in you.