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Category: Yoga Postures

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Jeremie
France

Question

I’m a bit confused regarding the practice of Bhastrika. I always thought it was practiced by breathing forcefully (but not too much) pressing and pulling the stomach in and out. But a teacher I lately met with told to practice this way: “Breathing is done only in the chest, not in the abdomen. It should be shallow and rapid.” He has another practice he calls Bhastrika plus Agnisara looking closer to the way I used to practice Bhastrika. Can you give me your point of view on this practice?

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Jeremie,

As you have discovered, different traditions practice Bhastrika in different ways. In Ananda Yoga, it’s done with the abdomen, and it’s as follows:

Quickly push the abdomen out, thereby causing an inhalation through the nose. Then quickly squeeze the abdomen inward, causing an exhalation through the nose. Both movements should be smooth and firm—not shallow, but not as deep as possible, either. Your inhalations and exhalations should be of equal duration. Practice at a rate of about one breath per second.

chitti
india

Question

Respected Sir/Madam,

I came to know energization exercises in Ananda Sangha but what is the use in tensing and relaxation of body parts in most of your exercises.Please reply kindly

Nayaswami Premdas

Nayaswami Premdas

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Chitti,

There are many reasons for the practice of Energization Exercises as created by our Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda. The main purpose of these unique rechargers, this specific pranayam application, is to prepare the body and nervous system for deeper meditation and God-realization.

Kannan
India

Question

I often read about breathless state brought about during deep meditation. It intuitively appeals to the mind that slowing the breath is associated with tranquility and longevity.

My question is what about aerobic exercise? It is very much necessary to avoid diabetes and heart problems and one breathes very fast during the exercise. I wonder what the Yogis' take on this is? In Hatha Yoga Pradipika it is mentioned that the Yogi should not exert himself. Makes no sens from a fitness perspective.

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Kannan,

You’re right: aerobic exercise is an important factor in health. In fact, Paramhansa Yogananda taught that one should "perform some sort of exercise every day until perspiration breaks out over your whole body." (See his book, How to Achieve Glowing Health and Vitality.)

Kaye
USA

Question

I once read "somewhere" that Master said that you could get the same energy flow from Hatha Yoga as you can from the energization exercises, but you would have to be a master of the postures and know exactly which ones to do and in what order. That it is probably wiser to simply do the energization exercises. Could you expound upon this, and also if you know where that was written would you please be kind enough to give me the source.

Thank you, Namaste,
Kaye

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Kaye,

Thanks for your question. Paramhansa Yogananda thought well of both Energization and Hatha Yoga. Although I am not aware of his having made a statement such as you mention, either orally or in print, I can offer a few facts:

  1. The only comparison I know that he made is in a recording, in which he says, "The tension [Energization] exercises are better than the asanas." (He emphasized "better.")
  2. Energization is a cornerstone of his teachings, and he urged all his disciples to practice it. He left it to his disciples to practice Hatha Yoga if they felt benefitted by it, but he didn't urge them to practice it.
  3. In The Essence of Self-Realization, Swami Kriyananda quotes the Master as having said: "Hatha Yoga is a wonderful system. The body, moreover, is a part of our human nature, and must be kept fit lest it obstruct our spiritual efforts. Devotees, however, who are bent on finding God give less importance to the yoga postures. Nor is it strictly necessary that they practice them."

One clarification: Energization is not so much about achieving a particular energy flow as it is about drawing into the body a lot of energy, gaining an ever-clearer, ever-deeper awareness of energy, and bringing that energy under your direct control. Certainly Hatha Yoga practice can do much of that as well.

marjorie
uk

Question

I was told Kapalabati is not pranayama but kriya, is this true? If so what is the difference between pranayama and kriya

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Hello Marjorie,

Different yoga traditions use different terminology, and sometimes different meanings for the same terminology.

Before I explain more, let me offer a clarification: Many people reserve the word "pranayamas" for breathing techniques, as opposed to its broader, and truer, meaning: energy-control techniques. Well, for this discussion, let's use the narrower meaning of breathing techniques.

Caz
USA

Question

Hi. I've been hearing inner sounds for just over three years. They began about six months after beginning to practice hatha yoga and pranayama again after having decided not to engage in these practices for a few years.

This began gradually, with various discrete sounds, but I'm now what sounds like many human voices (40 to well over 100) singing. The sound is outside my physical body, because I can reorient myself to the sounds.

Could this be the Anahata Chakra opening?

Thank you.

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Caz,

While I cannot give you a definitive answer as to exactly what those voices are, I can offer some thoughts for you to consider.

First, are the voices are pleasant or unpleasant? If pleasant, then embrace them, enjoy them. They might be angel voices, a sign that you have entered into a deeper-than-usual state of receptivity. If the voices are not pleasant, then call strongly upon God and offer the experience to Him/Her, with the prayer, "This comes from you, and I offer it back to You. If it's not good for me, please guide me as to what I should do about it. If it's good for me, please show me how to relate to it, that I may absorb the blessing."

Cyril
Ireland

Question

Hi Soul friends,

Sometimes I hear a rising "whooshing" kind of sound in my head when I am in yoga postures esp. the more demanding ones like locust or full peacock.

I am wondering what this phenomenon could be and if its normal.

Thanks for your time.

Cyril

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Hello Cyril,

Since you specifically cite two quite demanding asanas, I am guessing that the sound you're hearing is related to elevated blood pressure due to exertion and (perhaps) irregular or nonexistent breathing during the asanas.

(It happens to me, too, in those asanas, and sometimes also in other physically demanding asanas.)

Som
Ind

Question

What's a good mudra for the abdominal chakra?

Specifically for energizing the entire gastric system ?

Thank you for this wonderful service!

Nayaswami Pranaba

Nayaswami Pranaba

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Som,

One of the most effective techniques for the abdominal chakra (manipura chakra) is Uddiyana Bandha - Stomach Lift. There are some strenuous versions of Uddiyana Bandha, but in the Ananda Yoga approach, it's done gently, and usually with the breath held out.

Here is the technique: As you finish an exhalation, lightly engage your abdominal muscles, smoothly and gently squeezing in toward your spine. Hold your abdomen in for as long as is comfortable. When you need to inhale, relax the abdominal contraction and let your belly expand with the inhalation.

You'll also find in the Energization Exercises that Paramhansa Yogananda taught, a variation on the above technique.

Blessings on your spiritual journey.

In divine friendship,
Nayaswami Pranaba

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