Solar (Right) and Lunar (Left) Breath – 2

We will now see the explanation for 12 and 16 angulas concept based on Raguram’s understanding which of course seems to be more logical.

  • The overall human height is measured as 9 talas. Tala is the fundamental measure of time and space. We will see more in details about this later.

Human Body with Talas

Human form – Adi Tala, Nava Tala [Courtesy: Dr. Ganapathi Sthapati]

  • If the height of a human is 9 Talas (Navatala) then the torso which is neck to start of thigh is 3 talas. From neck to navel is 2 Talas and naval to start of the thigh is 1 Tala. Each Tala is 6 Angulas and hence neck to navel is 12 Angulas.
  • The solar breath starts at navel / nabhi chakra and hence 12 angulas. 
  • The lunar breath starts much below at Mooladhara chakra and hence 4 angulas below the nabhi chakra and hence 16 angulas. We also need to notice the distinction between nadi and breath. The Pingala nadi may still start at Mooladara but the solar breath is from the nabhi chakra. It is always better to go with what your guru says and that’s what we do.
  • Some schools tell us that 16 and 12 angulas are the length of the breath from the nose when we exhale, which may not be true. One angula is 11/8th of an inch. This would not be applicable for the exhaling length of the breath outside us.

Nadis and Chakras with criss cross

Nadis and Chakras [Book Yoga Nidra, by NC Panda]

  • We would notice that the flow crisscross between our nose and brain and this is one of the reasons why our sides of the body are controlled by the opposite sides of our brain.
  • The more we breathe through the right nostril the wastage is low and we would lead a long and healthy life. Alternatively when we breathe through your left nostril the breath wastage is more and they noted that it hampers long life and good health. We will see more on this tomorrow.

Reference

Know thy Nature by Raguram Gopalan, http://ragsgopalan.blogspot.com

Solar (Right) and Lunar (Left) Breath – 1

Irrespective of whether we consider that breathing as an activity that we perform or we identify our very existence with breathing, it is important to know the basics behind this activity. The basis of this article is  our Yoga / Siddha system. Some of the interesting aspects are given…

If you divide the human body vertically along the sternum it has 2 symmetric sides – right and left side. (have you recognized that most of the organs are symmetric along this meridian?) Right side is called as male, +ve, Yang, Surya, Pingala, Ravi and so on. Similarly left side of the body is called as female, -ve, Yin, Mathi, Ida, Chandra. These 2 aspects are bipolar yet non-dual in the sense one cannot exist without the other. The Yin-yang symbol, the Arthanareeswarar image and the Star of David conveys this same aspect.

Out of the 72000 nadis / meridians in the body there are 3 nadis which is very important. Pingala, Ida and Sushmna. All nadis carry subtle energy called Prana or Chi through our body. When we breathe through our right side and the breath that comes through the right nostril is called Pingala and left breath is called Ida. It is actually the name of the nadi and the breath is called Surya (right) or Chandra (Left). The objective of the article is not to talk about Sushmna but look at the rhythm we have between right and left nostril breathing.
Chakra and NadiNadis and Chakras

Figures given above highlight the 3 Nadis and 7 chakras. You would note that the flow of nadis is different in all the pictures. There are multiple schools of thought on this.

Right breathe characterizes solar power and hence physical energy, enthusiasm, drive, health, aggression, sexual potency and long life. Left breathe characterizes humility, truthfulness, creativity, spirituality, obedience, compassion etc.

We know that every human being is endowed with ~ billion breath package and the concept of long life is based on how much breath you save and not waste. Yoga states that if you breathe through the right nostril (Solar breath), then it is effectively 12 angulas of breath length and if you breathe through the left nostril (Lunar Breath), then it is effectively 16 angulas of breath length. Ask your Yoga guru about this angula measurements, most may not be aware of it. More details on this tomorrow…

Reference

Know thy Nature by Raguram Gopalan, http://ragsgopalan.blogspot.com

Kundalini and Chakras

Kundalini

Kundalini is the serpent power or sleeping Sakti, that has 3 1/2 coils with face downwards, in the Muladhara Chakra, at the base of the spine. No Samadhi is possible without its being awakened. The practice of Kumbhaka in Pranayama produces heat and thereby Kundalini is awakened and passes upwards along the Sushumna Nadi. The Yogic practitioner experiences various visions. Then the Kundalini passes along the Six Chakras and eventually gets united with Lord Siva, seated on the Sahasrara or thousand-petalled lotus, at the crown of the head. Nirvikalpa Samadhi ensues now and the Yogi gets liberation and all the divine Aishvaryas.

Kundalini and Muladhara Chakra

 

One should practise control of breath with concentration of mind. The awakened Kundalini that is taken up to Manipura Chakra may drop down again to Muladhara. It has to be raised again with effort. One should become perfectly desireless and should be full of Vairagya before he attempts to awaken Kundalini. Kundalini is like a thread and is resplendent. When it is awakened it hisses like a serpent beaten with a stick and enters the hole of Sushumna. When it travels from Chakra to Chakra, layer after layer of the mind becomes open and the Yogi acquires various Siddhis (psychic powers).

Shat Chakras

Shat-Chakras

Chakras are centres of spiritual energy. They are located in the astral body, but they have corresponding centres in the physical body also. They can hardly be seen by the naked eyes. Only a clairvoyant can see with his astral eyes. Tentatively they correspond to certain plexuses in the physical body. There are six important Chakras. They are: Muladhara (containing 4 petals) at the anus; Svadhishthana (6 petals) at the genital organ; Manipura (10 petals) at navel; Anahata (12 petals) at the heart; Visudha (16 petals) at the throat and Ajna (2 petals) at the space between the two eyebrows. The seventh Chakra is known as Sahasrara, which contains a thousand petals. It is located at the top of the head. Sacral plexus tentatively corresponds to Muladhara Chakra; Prostatic plexus to Svadhishthana, Solar plexus to Manipura, Cardiac plexus to Anahata Chakra, Laryngal plexus to Visuddha Chakra and Cavernous plexus to Ajna Chakra.

Reference

The Science of Pranyama by Sri Swami Sivananda

Nadis – The Nerve Currents

Nadis

Nadis are astral tubes made up of astral matter that carry Pranic currents. They can be seen by the astral eyes only. They are not the nerves. They are 72,000 in number. Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are the important ones. Sushumna is the most important of all.

Ida and Pingala

There are the two nerve-currents one on either side of the spinal column. The left one is called Ida and the right is known as Pingala. These are Nadis. Tentatively, some take these as the right and the left sympathetic cords, but they are subtle tubes that carry Prana. The Moon moves in the Ida and the Sun in the Pingala. Ida is cooling. Pingala is heating. Ida flows through the left nostril and the Pingala through the right nostril. The breath flows through the right nostril for one hour and then through the left nostril for one hour. Man is busily engaged in worldly activities, when the breath flows through Ida and Pingala. When Sushumna operates, he becomes dead to the world, and enters into Samadhi. A Yogi tries his level best to make the Prana run in the Sushumna
Nadi, which is known as the central Brahman Nadi also. On the left of Sushumna is situated Ida and on the right is Pingala. The moon is of the nature of Tamas and the sun is that of the Rajas. The poison share is of the sun and the nectar is of the moon. Ida and Pingala indicate time. Sushumna is the consumer of time.

NadiNadis and Chakras

 

Sushumna

Sushumna is the most important of all the Nadis. It is the sustainer of the universe and the path of the universe and the path of salvation. Situated at the back of the anus, it is attached to the spinal column and extends to the Brahmarandhra (Crown chakra) of the head and is invisible and subtle. The real work of a Yogi begins when Sushumna begins to function. Sushumna runs along the centre of the spinal cord or spinal column.

Above the genital organs and below the navel is the Kanda, of the shape of a bird’s egg. There arise from it all the Nadis 72,000 in number. Of these, seventy-two are common and generally known. Of those the chief ones are ten and they carry the Pranas. Ida, Pingala, Sushumna, Gandhari, Hastijihva, Pusa, Yusasvini, Alambusa, Kuhuh and Sankhini are said to be the ten important Nadis. The Yogis should have a knowledge of the Nadis and the Chakras. Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are said to carry Prana and have Moon, Sun and Agni as their Devatas. When Prana moves in Sushumna, sit for meditation. You will have deep Dhyana. If the coiled-up energy, Kundalini, passes up along the Sushumna Nadi and is taken up from Chakra to Chakra the Yogi gets different sorts of experiences, powers and Ananda.

Reference

The Science of Pranyama by Sri Swami Sivananda

Prana and Lungs – Part 2

It is through vocal cords that are located in the larynx that sound is produced. Larynx is the sounding box. When the vocal cords are affected by too much straining, as in singing and continuous lecturing, the voice becomes hoarse. In females these cords are shorter. Hence they have a sweet melodious voice. The number of respiration per minute is 16. In pneumonia it is increased to 60, 70, 80 per minute. In Asthma, the bronchial tubes become spasmodic. They contract. Hence there is difficulty in breathing. Pranayama removes the spasm or constriction of these tubes. A small membranous flat cap covers the upper surface of larynx. It is called Epiglottis. It prevents the food particles or water from entering into the respiratory passage. It acts the part of a safety valve. When a small particle of food tries to enter the respiratory passage, cough comes in and the particle is thrown out.

lungs

Lungs purify the blood. The blood starts in its arterial journey, bright-red and rich-laden with life-giving qualities and properties. It returns by the venous route, poor, blue-laden with the waste matter of the system. Arteries are tubes or vessels that carry pure oxygenated blood from the heart towards the different parts of the body. Veins are vessels or tubes that carry back impure blood from the different parts of the body. The right side of the heart contains impure venous blood. From the right side of the heart the impure blood goes to the lungs, for purification. It is distributed among the millions of tiny air-cells of the lungs. A breath of air is inhaled and the oxygen of the air comes in contact with the impure blood through the thin walls of the hair-like blood-vessels of the lungs called pulmonary capillaries. The walls of the capillaries are very thin. They are like muslin cloth or sieve. Blood oozes out or exudes readily. Oxygen penetrates through the walls of these thin capillaries. When the oxygen comes in contact with the tissues a form of combustion takes place.

The blood takes up oxygen and releases carbonic acid gas generated from the waste products and poisonous matter, which has been gathered up by the blood from all parts of the system. The purified blood is carried by the four pulmonary veins to the left auricle and thence to the left ventricle. From the ventricle it is pumped into the biggest artery, aorta. From aorta, it passes into the different arteries of the body. It is estimated that in a day 35,000 pints of blood traverses the capillaries of the lungs for purification.

From the arteries the pure blood goes into the thin capillaries. From the capillaries the lymph of the blood exudes, bathes and nourishes the tissues of the body. Tissue respiration takes place in the tissues. Tissues take up the oxygen and leave the carbon dioxide. The impurities are taken by the veins to the right side of the heart.

Who is the creator of this delicate structure? Are you feeling the invisible hand of God behind these organs? The structure of this body bespeaks undoubtedly of the omniscience of the Lord. The Antaryamin or the Indweller of our hearts supervises the working of the inner factory as Drashtha. Without His presence, heart cannot pump blood into the arteries. Lungs cannot carry out the process of purifying the blood. Pray. Pay your silent homage to Him. Remember Him at all times. Feel His presence in all the cells of the body.

Reference

The Science of Pranyama by Sri Swami Sivananda

Prana and Lungs – Part 1

It will not be out-of-place here to mention a word on lungs and their functions. The organs of respiration consist of two lungs, one on either side of the chest and the air passages that lead to them. They are located in the upper thoracic cavity of the chest, one on each side of median line. They are separated from each other by the heart, the greater blood vessels and the larger air-tubes. The lungs are spongy, porous and their tissues are very elastic. The substance of the lungs contains innumerable air-sacs, which contain air. After post-mortem, when it is placed in a basin of water, it floats. They are covered by a delicate serous membrane called the pleura which contains serous fluid to prevent friction of the lungs, during the act of breathing. One wall of the pleura closely adheres to the lungs. The other wall is attached to the inner wall of the chest. Through this membrane the lungs are fixed to the wall of the chest.

lungs

The right lung consists of three lobes.The left lung contains two lobes. Each lung consists of an apex and a base. The base is directed towards the diaphragm, the muscular septum, the dividing wall between throat and abdomen. The apex situated above, near the root of the neck. It is the base that gets inflamed in Pneumonia. The apex of the lung which does not get proper supply of oxygen gets affected by consumption. It affords favorable nidus or breeding ground for Tubercle Bacilli (T.B.). By the practice of Kapalabhati and Bhastrika Pranayamas and deep breathing exercises, these apices get good supply of oxygen and thus phthisis is obviated. Pranayama develops the lungs. He who practices Pranayama will have a powerful, sweet, melodious voice.

The air-passage consists of the interior of the nose, pharynx or throat, larynx or the wind box, or sounding box, which contains two vocal cords, trachea or windpipe: right and left bronchi and the smaller bronchial tubes. When we breathe, we draw in the air through the nose and after it has passed through the pharynx and larynx, it passes into the trachea or windpipe, thence into the right and left bronchial tubes, which in turn, subdivide into innumerable smaller tubes called bronchioles, and which terminate in minute subdivisions in the small air-sacs of the lungs, of which the lungs contain millions. The air-sacs of the lungs when spread out over an unbroken surface, would cover, an area of 1,40,000 square feet.

The air is drawn into the lungs by the action of the diaphragm. When it expands, the size of the chest and lungs is increased and the outside air rushes into the vacuum thus created. The chest and lungs contract, when diaphragm relaxes and the air is expelled from the lungs.

Reference

The Science of Pranyama by Sri Swami Sivananda

What is Prana? – Part 4

All forces, all powers and prana spring from the fountain or common source, known as Atman (Soul). Heat, light, electricity, magnetism are manifestations of prana. It may be in either a static or a dynamic state. It is found in all forms from the highest to the lowest, from the ant to the elephant, the unicellular amoebae to man, from the elementary forms of plant life to the developed forms of animal life.

Whatever moves or has life is but an expression or manifestation of prana. It is prana that shines in your eyes. It is through the power of prana that the ear hears, the eye sees, the skin feels, the tongue tastes, the nose smells and the brain and the intellect perform their functions. The smile of a young lady, the melody in music, the power in the emphatic words of an orator, the charm in the speech of one’s beloved are all due to prana. Whatever you behold in this sense-world, whatever moves or works or has life, is but an expression or manifestation of prana.

Prana is force, magnetism and electricity. Radio waves travel through prana. That which moves the steam engine of a train and a steamer, which causes the motion of breath in lungs, that which is the very life of this breath itself, is prana. It is prana that pumps the blood from the heart into the arteries or blood vessels. Through prana digestion, excretion and secretion take place. Prana digests the food, turns it into chyle and blood, and sends it into the brain and mind. The mind is then able to think and inquire into the nature of Brahman.

Use of Prana

Prana is expended by thinking, willing, acting, moving, talking and writing. A healthy strong person has an abundance of prana (or nerve-force or vitality). It is supplied by food, water, air, solar energy, etc. The supply of prana is taken up by the nervous system. The prana in the air is absorbed by breathing. The excess is stored in the brain and nerve centres. When the seminal energy is sublimated or transformed it supplies an abundance of prana to the system. It is stored in the brain in the form of spiritual energy.

The yogi stores a great deal of prana through the regular practice of pranayama, just as the storage battery stores electricity. That yogi who has stored a large supply radiates strength and vitality all around. He is a big power house and those who come in close contact with him imbibe prana from him and receive strength, vigor  vitality and exhilaration of spirits. Just as water flows from one vessel to another, prana actually flows like a steady current from a developed yogi towards weak persons. This can actually be seen by the yogi who has developed his inner yogic vision.

Control of Prana

A yogi can withdraw prana from any area of the body. That area gets benumbed, becomes impervious to heat and cold and has no sensation. A yogi can also send prana to any area and make it oversensitive; he can send it to the eyes and see distant objects; he can send it to the nose and experience divine aromas; he can send it to the tongue and experience super-sensuous taste.

By control of prana the yogi can also control the omnipresent manifesting power out of which all energies take their origin, whether concerning magnetism, electricity, gravitation, cohesion, nerve currents, vital forces or thought vibrations; in fact, the total forces of the universe, physical and mental. A comprehensive knowledge of prana and its function is absolutely necessary for pranayama.

Reference

1. The Science of Pranyama by Sri Swami Sivananda
2. http://www.yogamag.net/archives/2009/haug09/prana.shtml