Prerequisite for Pranayama According to Hatha Yoga Pradeepika

Pranayama

तस्मिन् सति श्वासप्रश्वासयोर्गतिविच्छेदः प्राणायामः

The flow of prana inside is the inhalation and outside is the exhalation, the stoppage of these two i.e (inhalation and exhalation) is the pranayama…………( PYS 2:49 )

This stoppage of the breath is called as the kumbhaka in Hatha Yoga Pradeepika.

To perform the pranayama or kumbhaka, sadhaka must follow prerequisite:-

Prerequisite Of  Pranayama

“ Hatha Yoga Pradeepika ”  gives the detailed explanation on prerequisite of pranayama.

It takes 3 important concepts in consideration

अथासने दॄधे योगी वशी हित-मिताशनः |
गुरूपदिष्ह्ट-मार्गेण पराणायामान्समभ्यसेत

Only when the body is regulated by the asana and moderate diet should a sadhaka begin the pranayama as directed by the guru ………..( HYP 2.1)

1. Asana ( Physical Postures )

Hatha Yoga tells about the 15 primary postures to steady the body. Practice of these physical posture is important before pranayama, as it helps to make the body more steady, helps in strengthening of thoracic muscle and help in chest expansion, Thus by this the sadhaka can channelize prana easily.

हठस्य परथमाङ्गत्वादासनं पूर्वमुछ्यते |
कुर्यात्तदासनं सथैर्यमारोग्यं छाङ्ग-लाघवम…………
(HYP 1.17)

Prior to everything, asana is spoken of as the first part of hatha yoga. Having done asana one gets steadiness (firmness) of the body and mind; disease lessness and lightness (flexibility) of the limbs.                  ………..(HYP 1.17)

2. Ahara ( Food )

Moderation in diet is very much important else the blockages in body will not allow the prana to properly channelize and this can bring various ailments in the body.

Hatha yoga pradeepika focus on “Mitahara” ( Moderation in diet )

सुस्निग्धमधुराहारश् चतुर्थांशविवर्जितः
भुज्यते शिवसम्प्रीत्यै मिताहारः उच्यते ………..(HYP 2.58)

Agreeable and sweet food, leaving one fourth of the stomach free

and eating as an offering to lord shiva is Mitahara. This will help in easy digestion of food which will not allow the blockages to create in body and easy movement of prana can take place in body.

3. Shatkriyas ( Cleansing Practice )

Blockages in the body can disrupt the flow of prana in body and can bring various ailments, hence the shatkriya ( Yogic Cleaning Practice )  is very important before pranayama as it will help in removing those blockages. These practice are six in number and hence called as the “Shatkriya”.  These are

  1. Kapalbhati:   for forehead
  2. Trataka:        for eyes
  3. Neti:               for nasal passage
  4. Dhauti:          for stomach
  5. Nauli:            for abdominal organs
  6. Basti:             for anal region. ………..( The Shatkriya by Dr. HR Nagendra )

Hence one should perform these six cleaning practice to clean the body first then start with the pranayama else the blockages will stop the flow of prana and if the prana start to stagnate in body then it can bring various disease in the body.

Conclusion

Hence any sadhaka advancing in his sadhana must follow a traditional approach toward the practice of pranayama by doing the cleansing of the body from (Shatkriya) , keeping moderation in diet by following (Mitahara) and having a steady posture by practicing (Asana), then only the pranayama can bring the benefits and can excel the sadhaka in his journey.

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