June 04, 2016

Pranayama : 6 Easy and Most Effective Techniques Step by Step

What is pranayama?

Pranayama is the art of regulated breathing. Pranayama was taught as the 4th limb of Ashtanga Yoga by the great sage Patanjali. Proper breathing habits promote physical, mental and social well being of a person and prepare him for next stage of advancement. Pranayama leads to freedom from clinging onto material desires and helps cultivate peace in life. Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.

Easy Pranayama Techniques Step by Step

How to do pranayama?

There are many techniques of pranayama taught by sage Patanjali.  Out of those, today we are about to learn 6 most effective and easy techniques. We can easily practice these techniques at home regularly to get utmost benefit of it. To do these pranayamas, sit in most comfortable posture with your spine erect and body relaxed.

1. Bhastrika Pranayama: Bhastrika pranayama is simply deep breathing.

  • Sit in the most comfortable posture with your spine erect and body relaxed.
  • Place both of your hands on your knees with palm facing upwards.
  • Touch the tip of your first finger with the tip of your thumb. This is called gyan mudra.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Inhale slowly as full as you can.
  • Exhale slowly completely.
  • Repeat this process for 2 to 5 minutes.

2. Kapal Bhati Pranayama: Kapal Bhati pranayam involves forceful exhalation. It must be done slowly by unhealthy people.

  • Sit in the most comfortable posture with your spine erect and body relaxed.
  • Place both of your hands on your knees in Gyan Mudra.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Inhale normally.
  • Exhale forcefully at once.
  • Repeat this process for 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Bahaya Pranayama: This involves holding the breath out of your body and activating certain locks.

  • Sit in the most comfortable posture with your spine erect and body relaxed.
  • Place your hands on your knees in Gyan Mudra.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Inhale slowly and completely.
  • Exhale slowly and completely.
  • Hold your breath outside.
  • Pull your perineum upwards internally. This is called Mula Bandha in Yoga.
  • Pull your abdomen into the rib cage as much as you can. This is called Uddiyana Bandha in Yoga.
  • Bring down your chin to touch it with the lower part of your neck or upper part of your chest. This is called Jalandhara Bandha.
  • Get into this position as soon as you exhale completely and hold this three bandhas together as long as you can. This combination of three bandhas is called Maha Bandha.
  • Before inhaling again, release these body lock in sequence. First Jalandhara Bandha, then Uddiyana Bandha followed by Mula Bandha.
  • Inhale completely.
  • Repeat this pranayama for 3 to 11 times. Beginners must do it for 3 times only.

4. Anulom Vilom Pranayama: This is also known as Nadi Shodhanam means exercise for purification of nerves. This involves breathing from alternate nostrils.

  • Sit in the most comfortable posture with your spine erect and body relaxed.
  • Place your left hand on your knee in Gyan Mudra.
  • Close your eyes.
  • With the thumb of your right hand close your right nostril and breathe slowly and fully from your left nostril.
  • Now close your left nostril with the middle finger and ring finger of your right hand and exhale slowly and completely from your right nostril.
  • Keeping your left nostril closed, breathe in with your right nostril slowly and completely this time.
  • Now close your right nostril again with your thumb of right hand and open your release your left nostril to exhale slowly and completely.
  • Repeat this sequence for 10 to 20 minutes. You can change hands, if required.

5. Bhramari Pranayama: This involves making of bee like humming sound. This is the reason it is called Bhramari Pranayama.

  • Sit in the most comfortable posture with your spine erect and body relaxed.
  • Raise your both hands and place your thumbs on your ears closing it by pushing tragus.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Place first finger on forehead and rest three fingers (middle, ring and little) on eyes gently.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply.
  • Exhale slowly and completely with a continuous deep humming sound.
  • Repeat this for 3 to 5 times.

6. Udgeeta Pranayama: This involves reciting the primordial sound ‘OM’.

  • Sit in the most comfortable posture with your spine erect and body relaxed.
  • Keep your hands on knees in Gyan Mudra.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply.
  • Exhale slowly and completely from your mouth with continuous ‘OM’ sound.
  • Repeat this for 3 to 5 times.
  • Sit in the same relaxed posture for some more time.
  • Rub your palms against each other and place them on your eyes.
  • Open your eyes.

So, now you know the six most effective and simple pranayama techniques. I’ve myself practiced them and experienced how it slowly improved my life. I would love to hear your experiences as well. Feel free to get back to me with your suggestions, queries or comment. Thanks.

May 25, 2016

What is Yoga? How Many Types of Yoga are There?

What is yoga? As commonly understood.

Today people mostly think of yoga as just a kind of aerobic exercise. This is because most of people have got many health benefits from yoga. When you know, what is yoga? You understand that health benefits are just preliminary effects of yoga.

What is Yoga Actually?

Yoga means to unite. Yoga is the practice of uniting our conscience to universal conscience. For theists, it is the practice of uniting a soul to the God. What is yoga can actually only be explained by a siddha yogi (a practitioner of yoga who has reached the state of union), in terms of what that final union feels like. But, talking about just the method, it is the path that a yogi follows.

Yoga as the practice is a discipline which when followed by someone properly aligns his mind, body and soul with each other to promote physical, social and spiritual well-being of the person and enables the person to withstand the intense experience of enlightenment. What is yoga can be realized by anyone by sincere practice.

What is Yoga? Types of Yoga


How Many Types of Yoga are There?

Today, we listen about so many types of yoga. Actually, I have seen terms on internet being searched as “hot yoga” and “bikram yoga”. I mean it is ridiculous. Basically, when people started using yoga as business, they wanted to have a keyword, something that can make them look different. That is the main reason why we hear about so many types of yoga today. Most of these types of yoga that is taught in big branded organizations today are just modified Raj Yoga or Yoga of Mind Control.

How Many Types of Yoga Actually Exist?

There are mainly just four types of yoga. All of them are very different from one another. Yet, they all can also be practiced together. They are:
  1. Gyan Yoga (Yoga of Knowledge): This type of yoga gives most importance to knowledge. The practitioner questions everything in great details. He tries to reach the core of everything. This is the birth place of philosophy.
  2. Karma Yoga (Yoga of Action): This type of yoga gives most importance to actions. The practitioner works without any motive to gain or lose anything. He works just for the sake of incorporating his duties. This frees him from any effect of any action.
  3. Raj Yoga (Yoga of Mind Control): This type of yoga focuses on mind control. This is the famous Maharshi Patanjali Ashtang Yoga (The Great Sage Patanjali’s Eight Step Process of Yoga). Yam (Morals), Niyam (Discipline), Asana (Posture), Pranayam (Regulated Breathing), Pratyahar (Renunciation), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyan (Meditation) and Samadhi (Super Conscious Awareness) are the eight limbs of Raj Yoga. Hath Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Sahaj Yoga and various meditation techniques are all focused on only one or the other part of it with slight modifications to just get it patented for an organization.
  4. Bhakti Yoga (Yoga of Devotion): This is the type of yoga with gives most importance to devotion and love. I believe by one or the other way one has to finally reach to a state where he cannot move forward without love or devotion. This is the kind of yoga we see Vaishnavas (followers of Lord Krishna) following. For such a practitioner, words of the Lord are above any reasoning and must be followed.
Speaking frankly, all of these types of yoga can be practiced together. Inclusiveness and balance are the characteristics of yoga. You can think rationally, while detaching yourself from your actions and performing them as your duty. Meanwhile you’ll also get 5 – 10 minutes easily every day to start practice of mind control. And you must be thankful to everybody for any help or assistance you get in your work.

We will discuss all of these in details in our next articles. Feel free to share your comments and ask any questions. I will be glad to know what you think. Thanks.

May 18, 2016

What is the real symbol of freedom from disturbance?

Symbol of Freedom from Disturbance

I was looking at what people are searching these days on Google. And I found that people are searching for this – symbol of freedom from disturbance. And I was wondering what does this mean. On one hand, people make a whole lot mess when it comes to symbols. Some say that it is these symbols that divide people in name of religion. Some say these symbols are very easy to wear and with them people fool others by showing off false authority of some kind. On the other hand more people in the world are trying to find newer ways to raise more of this symbolism.

Well why does one need a symbol to represent freedom from disturbance? Is it because they are really very disturbed, I mean to a ridiculous level, so that they don’t want people to know that they really are disturbed or just by using a symbol they want to convey others that they are free from disturbance. Is there any other use of it? Or they want to put that symbol on to walls of their bedrooms and gaze on it day and night and believe that staring on that symbol will promote freedom from disturbance in their lives? I mean this is insane.

Whatever may be the case, at my level of understanding I cannot say much in support of physical symbols. Yes physical symbols are helpful for beginners. That is why we have so many symbols in Hinduism, previously known as Sanatan Dharma. But, you do have to discard all physical symbols for progressing beyond a certain point. You know, everything in this world creates attachment. Be it good or bad. So, if you really need a symbol, I will suggest you to look at smile as that symbol.

Isn’t it true? When one is really free from disturbance, this is what becomes apparent - a slight smile on the person’s face, glitter in his eyes, warmth of the heart. If you want to fill your room with that symbol or wear it for constant remembrance, you can use a smiley and keep that with you. But you must understand when you use symbols, you have to understand the reality which it signifies and you must appreciate that reality every time you look at that symbol. That is only going to give you the real benefit of using that symbol.

Don’t we see how some people look at statues of deities and find is just a structure of clay or stone while a devotee sees the same idol and gets emotional. This is just because that devotee sees something else in that idol. He sees what it actually is meant to signify. Still, I consider you better if you don’t need any symbol to connect with things that you want yourself to align with. Really, just having that smile and glitter on your face and eyes respectively is the biggest symbol of you being free from disturbance that any other physical symbol. And yes, when I say you’re better if you don’t need symbol. I do mean that you must have the same emotional connect with the subject as that of the devotee who uses a symbol. If you don’t have it, perhaps you need that symbol.

May 17, 2016

The Song Divine (The Bhagavadgītā) Chapter II Sāṅkhyayoga

The Song Divine (The Bhagavadgītā) Chapter II Sāṅkhyayoga

Sanjaya said: Sri Krsna then addressed the following words to Arjuna, who was, as mentioned before, overwhelmed with pity, whose eyes were filled with tears and agitated, and who was full of sorrow. (1)

Śrī Bhagavān said: Arjuna, how has this infatuation overtaken you at this odd hour? It is shunned by noble souls; neither will it bring heaven, nor fame to you. (2)

Yield not to unmanliness, Arjuna; this does not become you. Shaking off this base faint-heartedness stand-up, O scorcher of enemies. (3)

Arjuna said: How Krsna, shall I fight Bhisma and Drona with arrows on the battlefield? They are worthy of deepest reverence, O destroyer of foes. (4)

It is better to live on alms in this world by not slaying these noble elders, because even after killing them we shall after all enjoy only bloodstained pleasures in the form of wealth and sense-enjoyments. (5)

We do not even know which is preferable for us - to fight or not to fight; nor do we know whether we shall win or whether they will conquer us. Those very sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, killing whom we do not even wish to live, stand in the enemy ranks. (6)

With my very being smitten by the vice of faint-heartedness and my mind puzzled with regard to duty, I beseech You! tell me that which is decidedly good; I am your disciple. Pray, instruct me, who have taken refuge in You. (7)

For, even on obtaining undisputed sovereignty and an affluent kingdom on this earth and lordship over the gods, I do not see any means that can drive away the grief which is drying up my senses. (8)

Sañjaya said: O King, having thus spoken to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna again said to Him, "I will not fight," and became silent. (9)

Then, O Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, as if smiling, addressed the following words to Arjuna, sorrowing in the midst of the two armies. (10)

Śrī Bhagavān said: Arjuna, you grieve over those who should not be grieved for and you speak like the learned; wise men do not sorrow over the dead or the living. (11)

In fact, there was never a time when I was not, or when you or these kings were not. Nor is it a fact that hereafter we shall all cease to be. (12)

Just as boyhood, youth and old age are attributed to the soul through this body, even so it attains another body. The wise man does not get deluded about this. (13)

O son of Kuntī, the contacts between the senses and their objects, which give rise to the feelings of head and cold, pleasure and pain etc., are transitory and fleeting; therefore, Arjuna, endure them. (14)

Arjuna, the wise man to whom pain and pleasure are alike, and who is not tormented by these contacts, become eligible for immortality. (15)

The unreal has no existence, and the real never ceases to be; the reality of both has thus been perceived by the seers of Truth. (16)

Know that alone to be imperishable which pervades this universe; for no one has power to destroy this indestructible substance. (17)

All these bodies pertaining to the imperishable, indefinable and eternal soul are spoken of as perishable; therefore, Arjuna, fight. (18)

Both of them are ignorant, he who considers the soul to be capable of killing and he who takes it as killed; for verily the soul neither kills, nor is killed. (19)

The soul is never born, nor it ever dies; nor does it become after being born. For, it is unborn, eternal, everlasting and primeval; even though the body is slain, the soul is not. (20)

Arjuna, the man who knows this soul to be imperishable, eternal and free from birth and decay - how and whom will he cause to be killed, how and whom will he kill? (21)

As a man shedding worn-out garments, takes other new ones, likewise, the embodied soul, casting off worn-out bodies, enters into others that are new. (22)

Weapons cannot cut it nor can fire burn it; water cannot wet it nor can wind dry it. (23)

For this soul is incapable of being cut, or burnt by fire; nor can it be dissolved by water and is undriable by air as well; This soul is eternal, all-pervading, immovable, constant and everlasting. (24)

This soul is unmanifest; it is incomprehensible and it is spoken of as immutable. Therefore, knowing it as such, you should not grieve. (25)

And, Arjuna, if you should suppose this soul to be subject to constant birth and death, even then you should not grieve like this. (26)

For, in that case death is certain for the born, and rebirth is inevitable for the dead. You should not, therefore, grieve over the inevitable. (27)

Arjuna, before birth beings are not manifest to our human senses; on death they return to the unmanifest again. They are manifest only in the interim between birth and death. What occasion, then, for lamentation? (28)

Hardly any great soul perceives this soul as marvelous, scarce another great soul likewise speaks thereof as marvelous, and scarce another worthy one hears of it as marvelous, while there are some who know it not even on hearing of it. (29)

Arjuna, this soul dwelling in the bodies of all, can never be slain; therefore, you should not mourn for anyone. (30)

Besides, considering your own duty too, you should not waver, for there is nothing more welcome for a man of the warrior class than a righteous war. (31)

Arjuna, fortunate are the Ksatriyas who get such an unsolicited opportunity for war, which is an open gateway to heaven. (32)

Now, if you refuse to fight this righteous war, then, shirking your duty and losing your reputation, you will incur sin. (33)

Nay, people will also pour undying infamy on you; and infamy brought on a man enjoying popular esteem is worse than death. (34)

And the warrior-chiefs who thought highly of you, will now despise you, thinking that it was fear which drove you away from battle. (35)

And your enemies, disparaging your might, will speak many unbecoming words; what can be more distressing than this? (36)

Die, and you will win heaven; conquer, and you enjoy sovereignty of the earth; therefore, stand up, Arjuna, determined to fight. (37)

Treating alike victory and defeat, gain and loss, pleasure and pain, get ready for the battle; fighting thus you will not incur sin. (38)

Arjuna, this attitude of mind has been presented to you from the point of view of Jnanayoga; now hear the same as presented from the standpoint of Karmayoga. Equipped with this attitude of mind, you will be able to throw off completely the shackles of Karma. (39)

In this path there is no loss of effort, nor is there fear of contrary result, even a little practice of this discipline saves one from the terrible fear of birth and death. (40)

Arjuna, in this Yoga the intellect is determinate and directed singly towards one ideal; whereas the intellect of the undecided wanders in all directions after innumerable aims. (41)

Arjuna, those who are full of worldly desires and devoted to the letter of the Vedas, who look upon heaven as the supreme goal and argue that there is nothing beyond heaven, are unwise. They utter flowery speech recommending many rituals of various kinds for the attainment of pleasure and power with rebirth as their fruit. Those whose minds are carried away by such words, and who are deeply attached to pleasure and worldly power, cannot attain the determinate intellect concentrated on God. (42 - 44)

Arjuna, the Vedas thus deal with the evolutes of the three Gunas, viz., worldly enjoyments and the means of attaining such enjoyments; be thou indifferent to these enjoyments and their means, rising above pairs of opposites like pleasure and pain etc., established in the Eternal Existence, absolutely unconcerned about the fulfillment of wants and the preservation of what has been already attained, you be self-controlled. (45)

A Brahmana, who has obtained enlightenment, has as much use for all the Vedas as one who stands at the brink of a sheet of water overflowing on all sides has for a small reservoir of water. (46)

Your right is to work only and never to the fruit thereof. Do not Consider yourself to be the cause of the fruit of action; nor let your attachment be to inaction. (47)

Arjuna, perform your duties established in Yoga, renouncing attachment, and be even-minded in success and failure; evenness of mind is called 'Yoga'. (48)

Action with a selfish motive is far inferior to this Yoga in the form of equanimity. Do seek refuge in this equipoise of mind, Arjuna; for poor and wretched are those who are the cause in making their actions bear fruit. (49)

Endowed with equanimity, one sheds in this life both good and evil. Therefore, strive for the practice of this Yoga of equanimity. Skill in action lies in the practice of this Yoga. (50)

For, wise men possessing equipoised mind, renouncing the fruit of actions and freed from the shackles of birth, attain the blissful supreme state. (51)

When your mind will have fully crossed the mire of delusion, you will then grow indifferent to the enjoyments of this world and the next that have been heard of as well as to those that are yet to be heard of. (52)

When your intellect, confused by hearing conflicting statements, will rest steady and undistracted on God, you will then attain Yoga. (53)

Arjuna said: Krsna, what are the characteristics of a God-realized soul, stable of mind and established in Samadhi? How does the man of stable mind speak, how does he sit, how does he walk? (54)

Sri Bhagavan said: Arjuna, when one thoroughly casts off all cravings of the mind, and is satisfied in the Self through the joy of the Self, he is then called stable of mind. (55)

The sage, whose mind remains unperturbed amid sorrows, whose thirst for pleasures has altogether disappeared, and who is free from passion, fear and anger, is called stable of mind. (56)

He who is unattached to everything, and meeting with good and evil, neither rejoices nor recoils, his mind is stable. (57)

When, like a tortoise, that draws in its limbs from all directions, he withdraws all his senses from the sense-objects, his mind becomes steady. (58)

Sense-objects turn away from him, who does not enjoy them with his senses; but the taste for them persists. This relish also disappears in the case of the man of stable mind when he realizes the Supreme. (59)

Turbulent by nature, the senses even of a wise man, who is practicing self-control, forcibly carry away his mind, Arjuna. (60)

Therefore, having controlled all the senses and concentrating his mind, he should sit for meditation, devoting himself heart and soul to Me. For, he whose senses are under his control, is known to have a stable mind. (61)

The man dwelling on sense-objects develops attachment for them; from attachment springs up desire, and from desire ensues anger. (62)

From anger arise delusion; from delusion, confusion of memory; from confusion of memory, loss of reason; and from loss of reason one goes to complete ruin. (63)

But the self-controlled Sādhaka, while enjoying the various sense-objects through his senses, which are disciplined and free from likes and dislikes, attain placidity of mind. (64)

With the attainment of such placidity of mind, all his sorrows come to an end; and the intellect of such a person of tranquil mind soon withdraws itself from all sides, becomes firmly established in God. (65)

He who has not controlled his mind and senses, can have no determinate intellect, nor contemplation. Without contemplation, he can have no peace; and how can there be happiness for one lacking peace of mind? (66)

As the wind carries away a boat upon the waters, even so, of the senses moving among sense-objects, the one to which the mind is attached, takes away his discrimination. (67)

Therefore, Arjuna, he whose senses are completely restrained from their objects, is said to have a stable mind. (68)

That which is night to all beings, in that state of Divine Knowledge and Supreme Bliss the God-realized Yogī keeps awake, and that in which all beings keep awake, is night to the seer. (69)

As the waters of different rivers enter the ocean, which, though full on all sides, remains undisturbed; likewise, he in whom all enjoyments merge themselves without causing disturbance attains peace; not he who hankers after such enjoyments. (70)

He who has given up all desires, and moves free from attachment, egoism and thirst for enjoyment attains peace. (71)

Arjuna, such is the state of the God-realized soul; having reached this state, he overcomes delusion. And established in this state, even at the last moment, he attains Brahmic Bliss. (72)