We don’t want you to tamper with breath flows of the ida and pingala during the day or night apart from during your yoga practices. Of course, most of us are too busy to concern ourselves with these flows during everyday duties, but we are giving you a warning just in case you are one of the few people who have a lot of spare time. The body and mind automatically adjust the ida and pingala breath flows to that which is required for the prevailing situation.
For example, at night there is a tendency for the body to lie in the position that encourages the correct flow, either of ida or pingala. The body is a very sensitive instrument, though few people realize this fact. If the ida needs to flow then automatically there is the tendency to lie on the right side; if the pingala needs to flow then there is the tendency to lie on the left side. This is one of the reasons why people continually change their sleeping position during the night. Your body has a built-in sense – don’t interfere with its natural functioning during the day and night; let it follow its own dictates.
But, immediately before meditative practices and during yogic practices in general, it is justified to manipulate the flows to obtain balance. This is a temporary interference with the body; any of the techniques that we have described can be used. For the rest of the day, you should let the ida and pingala flows follow their own laws.
We have described these practices since they are an important part of hatha yoga. They quickly help to balance ida and pingala as a means to gain the most out of one’s meditational practices. Of course, balancing the breath flows through the nostrils is most unlikely to balance ida and pingala at all levels rising up to ajna chakra, but at the same time it is a great help.
It is not necessary to do all the techniques that we have described; merely one or two of your own choice. If you are already doing a full program of asanas and pranayama every day before meditational practice then it is probably not necessary to utilize any of the more specific techniques that we have outlined. Only use one of these methods if you feel it is justified in your particular situation. You must use your own discretion and common sense in this respect.
Kriya yoga and ida-pingala balance
Probably the most powerful method of balancing ida and pingala is kriya yoga. The individual techniques are carefully arranged so that they bring ida and pingala into balance. In the first kriyas great care is taken to keep the awareness balanced between the internal realm of the mind and the external realm of the material world. The first kriyas are primarily concerned with fixing awareness between the devil and the deep blue sea, the razor’s edge between extroversion on the one hand and introversion on the other hand. This will be more fully explained in Book III when we outline in detail the different kriya practices and their effects on the body and mind.