Fatigue from Pranayam (Breath and Energy Control)

Question

I am doing pranayam three times daily. I feel lots of internal changes with spiritual development and internal joy, but I am getting physically weak. Why is it so? What should I do?

—Awnish Shankar, India

Answer

Dear Awnish,

Assuming nothing else in your daily activities has changed, it would seem that you are overdoing it with the pranayams! Now, normally that is not an issue for most yogis, but perhaps your temperament runs to extremes?

Another angle on this fatigue you speak of is to ask yourself, “who is doing pranayam?” Is not God the Doer? Perhaps there is too much focus on yourself in the “doing.”

Another way to put this is: RELAX! Before commencing pranayam, pray to God and Guru and get centered in the Self. As you practice pranayam, feel devotion and self-offering to the Doer of all action: the Giver of Life and Breath. Merge with the breath and the Life Force and feel God’s joy coursing through your body, mind, and soul.

This way when you are finished you will surely feel energized and joyful.

Also, here’s a suggestion I make to students: don’t jump from one pranayam to the next without stopping. Stop and feel deeply the “after-poise of pranayam!” Drink deeply of the life-giving elixir of prana (energy). Take time in your routine to practice with deep, calm, and relaxed attention and devotion. Okay?

I love that chant that Swami Sri Yukteswar sang, which (in English) includes the words, “Pranayam be your religion….pranayam is the Cosmic World…pranayam is the Wishing Tree….”

Blessings to you,
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA