Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Everybody has distinct limitations and capacities. It is not the whimsical practice of pranayama which helps, but the regulated and disciplined practice. Since people have started practising pranayama at any odd hour, morning, night, anytime, and at any season summer or winter, I am introducing the times and seasons to do pranayama in the right manner. In winter months practise heating pranayamas, in summer months practise cooling pranayamas and on a regular basis practise the balancing pranayamas.

Balancing pranayama is interesting. A few days back, one person came with a piece of equipment to measure the brain waves, and I tried it. And, he said, “You meditate,” but I was in no mood to meditate. I was watching the instrument. I was seeing what was happening. For five minutes the reading was taken, and, when the map was created of the reading, it was an interesting map. Something that this person had never seen before.

A very interesting pattern emerged. How that pattern emerged and relate to what I was thinking at that time, because even thoughts have the influence to change the brain waves. When we look at that image, we suddenly realize that whether it is meditation or thinking or pranayama or any physical exercises, everything is changing our energy system, the pranic system, the pranic output and input.

Anxiety is common. When somebody is under stress, tension and anxiety, their breathing is shallow and short. Somebody who is relaxed takes long and deep breaths. In people sleeping at night, the breath is regular and proper. In states of relaxation, the breath becomes even and agitation is reflected in how you breathe. So the balancing pranayamas are the most important ones. This is where the focus has been given in yoga: inhale, exhale, hold or retain use the mantra, use the count. Yogic practices focus on the balancing pranayamas.

The cooling and heating ones are used to manage the level of prana in different conditions and environments.

They are good to create physiological change to adapt to a particular situation, environment or climate. Some sadhus, monks in the mountains sitting naked in the snow can melt the snow with their own body heat. They don’t feel cold as in that situation they are practising the heating pranayama. Having mastery over prana, they can generate that heat.

There was an experiment with the army in the desert deployments where soldiers go in tanks under extremely hot conditions. Nowadays tanks are made with air-conditioning inside, but previously there was no air-conditioning, the tank was just a heat box. We tried cooling pranayamas and some soldiers in that heat actually started to feel cold for ida nadi was activated and that cooled the whole system.

If there is proper practice, the heating and the cooling pranayamas can be used to survive. For advancement in meditation and spiritual life, the balancing pranayamas are practised.

24 October 2019, Progressive Yoga Vidya Training 1, Ganga Darshan, Munger