Home pranayama for beginners

I want to add some pranayama and meditation to my daily home yoga practice, but am not sure where to begin. Is there an introductory sequence you can recommend?

To have the desire to include pranayama and meditation in your home practice is to take the blessed step into the deeper teachings of yoga. The initiation into this more subtle practice is ideally taught in person, teacher to student.

I will share a generic and safe sequence that will serve to begin your inward journey.

Come to a sitting position. Maintain the natural curves of the spine whether sitting on a chair or the floor. Close the eyes. Take a few breaths and settle in.

In the first pranayama (Viloma Rechaka), the exhalation is divided into three parts.

Exhale one third and pause (for one to three counts), then exhale the next third and pause again. Exhale all the way and pause. The abdomen will be pulled in towards the spine. Inhale in one steady flow. Repeat up to six times, slowly deepening the inhalation.

Then, breathe naturally and observe your inner reality for a few moments. Behind closed eyes gently lift your gaze towards the point between the eyebrows. Stay relaxed.

In the second pranayama (Sama Vritti) you slowly build up to an equal-count breath: inhale, hold and exhale to the same count. For example four-four-four, or six-six-six. Repeat up to six times.

After your last exhalation allow the breath to be suspended naturally. When you need to breathe again, let it happen without trying to lengthen it. Ideally at this stage the breath is subtle, perhaps barely perceptible.

Expand your awareness into the natural pauses after the exhalations and the inhalations. Pour all your attention into the inner space of stillness and peace within.

Be there for as long as you can.  Carry the peace with you as you go about your day.

Adam Bornstein and his partner Akash are the founders of Radiant Light Yoga on the Sunshine Coast, QLD (www.radiantlightyoga.com). They run courses to train teachers and yoga therapists as well as classes, workshops, retreats and personalised sessions.

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