Continued from: Pranayama: Nadi Shodhana (Stage 2)
For the first stage of practice the duration of inhalation should equal the time of exhalation. In other words if you breathe in for a count of five then you should also exhale for a count of five. However, begin with whatever count you find comfortable whether it is two or ten or 117 any other duration. No strain whatsoever should be involved in the practice. Over a period of weeks or months, however, slowly try to increase the duration of inhalation and exhalation, at the same time keeping them equal. For example, if you start with a duration of three seconds for inhalation and exhalation, try to increase this to four when you are able. This duration should be increased not only over the weeks of practice, but with each actual sitting. In other words start your practice with a comfortable duration, then after a short time you will automatically find that your breathing will last longer. Increase your counting and duration as much as is comfortable.
The relative duration of inhalation and exhalation will be changed for the next stage.
Awareness and duration
Try to maintain full awareness of breathing and mental counting. This is important in order to reap the maximum benefits from pranayama. However, don’t worry if your attention continually wanders. Just try to be aware that it is wandering and gently bring it back to the practice being performed.
Try to practise at least ten to fifteen minutes daily (this time also includes nadi shodhana stage 1).
Nadi shodhana stage 2 should follow directly after stage 1. They should be done after asanas and before relaxation or meditation.
At the slightest sign of discomfort reduce the duration of inhalation and exhalation. If necessary discontinue for the day. Make sure that you don’t force in any way and that there is no haste whatsoever. It should be done as though you have all the time in the world.
The benefits are the same as we have already described for nadi shodhana stage 1 so we will not repeat them here1. However, nadi shodhana stage 2 is much more powerful and effective in balancing the air flow through the two nostrils. For this reason it is particularly useful before relaxational and meditational techniques. It develops a state of harmony in the individual so that he is neither too lethargic nor too active, too dull or too excitable. The pranic currents or poles (sun and moon) are brought into balance with each other, thus increasing the health of the whole body-mind complex.
Continue to: Meditation: Practice