Accompanied, together with, conjoined, united सहित
Sahita Pranayama is one of the most important preparatory breathing techniques, one has to conquer before one attempt to dip into the vast ocean i.e. Pranayama. It is also important to note that perfecting nadi shodhan kriya is an absolute pre requisite to advancing onto the journey of Sahita Pranayama. It is only after these aforementioned practices are perfected, can a practitioner gain mastry over the next levels i.e. Suryabhedan pranayama; then Shitali, Bhramari and Bhastrika and further, Moorchha and Kevali, which are advanced pranayamas.
Sagarbha Pranayama (as a beginner – Stage 1)
- Assume any meditative posture or sukhasana as per your comfort
- Block right nasal passage softly with the right thumb
- In Sagarbha, we break the syllable ‘AUM’ as a part of beej mantra
- Inhale from the left nostril with Japa of ‘A’ beej mantra
- Block both the nasal passages (right with right thumb and the left with right ring finger)
- Apply Uddiyan Bandha with japa of ‘U’ mantra
- Release the right thumb from the right nasal passage and then exhale from right nostril with japa of ‘M’ mantra
- Once the exhalation is complete, inhale from the right nostril using ‘A’ beej mantra
- Retain breath using ‘U’ beej mantra
- Exhale from right nostril using ‘M’ beej mantra
- This was one round
- Start with 5 rounds and then slowly increase the number as per your ability
Sagarbha Pranayama (intermediate level – stage II)
- You will repeat the beginner’s stage process
- You would have to discipline the inhalation, retention and exhalation in a stipulated manner
- You are to apply a mental count now; inhale with 4 count of ‘A’ Beej mantra.. i.e. your inhalation would consist of four ‘A’ mantra
- After inhalation, apply Uddiyan Bandh and retain your breath in Uddiyan Bandh with 4 count of ‘U’ mantra
- Exhale with four count of ‘M’ japa mantra
- Continue with this practice until you are comfortable
- Start manipulating the ratio of the count so as to fit into inhalation : breath retention : exhalation = 1:4:2.
- During this time, it is pivotal that the retention is not forced or unnatural as this will take a while to fall in the stipulated ratio. So, go slow with that. Otherwise, you will end up damaging your lungs
Sagarbha Pranayama (Final practice – Stage III)
Once you have trained your lungs, respiration and gained mastery over the correct ratio, it is critical to further the practice as suggested by Gherand Samhita:
- Assume a seated posture; it could be a meditative posture or any posture as per your comfort. Your spine should be tall and neutral; rest of the body relaxed
- You should face east or north and begin to meditate on red-colour (color of Brahma, full of rajas guna) (skip this if this confuses you).
- Assume Pranav Mudra, block right nasal passage softly with right thumb to stop flow of air from that nostril.
- We will start by breaking the syllable with specific count
- Inhale from the left nostril with 16 ‘A’ japa mantra simultaneously, it means your one inhalation should consist of 16 ‘A’ mantra mental chant.
- Once inhalation is complete, block both the nostrils, apply Uddiyan Bandh and remain in Uddiyan Bandh (without any strain) with japa of 64 ‘U’ beeja mantra while meditating on dark color (Hari (Krishna), full of sattwa guna)(skip this if confused).
- Release right nasal passage by removing right thumb, exhale with japa of 32 ‘M’ beej mantra while meditating on fair-complexion (Shiva, full of tamas guna)(skip this if confused).
- Repeat in reverse order by inhaling from right, retaining the breath and exhaling from left repeating the bija mantra in the same manner as above. This is one cycle.
- Start with 5 cycles and then gradually increase the numbers as per your natural ability.
Nigarbha pranayama is performed in the same way as the Sagarbha but without any japa, mantra or seed and just with simple count of numbers. It is classified in three parts based on the combination of counts. Those are:
- Uttam – Uttam is the highest and the most advanced level of pranayama. In Uttama Nigarbha Pranayma, the ratio of count is 20:80:40 for inhalation, retention and exhalation respectively. That is, you inhale for 20 counts, retain your breath for 80 counts and exhale for 40 counts. Mastery at this level leads to Bhoomi Tyag meaning prana is awakened which makes the body light and hence, the practitioners experience an out of the body experience.
- Madhyam – The ratio of Madhyama Nigarbha is 16:64:32 for inhalation: breath retention: exhalation respectively. That is, one needs to inhale for 16 counts, retain the breath for 64 counts and exhale for 32 counts. With the perfection at this level, the stage of prana-uttana is awakened and starts ascending to the upper chakra. It is characterized by vibrations in the spine which is an indication that pranas are awakened in the chakras. Therefore, the kundalini is awakened and starts ascending into the upper chakra.
- Adhama – In Adhama Nigarbha, the basic count is 12:48:24 for inhalation: breath retention: exhalation respectively. That is, the inhalation has to be done with the count of 12, breath to be retained for a count of 48 and finally exhaled at the count of 24. When the body starts to sweat during this practice, it is an indication that the stipulated technique is perfected and awakening of prana is commencing.
Please note the number of counts at each stage changes. However, the fraction ratio remains the same for all i.e. 1:4:2 for inhalation: breath retention: exhalation respectively.
Mastery at this level annihilates all the diseases, makes the body light to travel into an aura of infinity. It enhances inner vision and higher knowledge and manifests the feeling of bliss.