Prana, Pranayama, Self, and a whole lot more
Yoga is based in a world of prana and other things that are not in western/modern paradigm.
It is stated in ancient yogic texts that yoga “states” only happen after pranayama and higher practices.
To do a pranayama practice one MUST eat properly (what is properly? since the context is not a Western idea of that as well) on a regular basis or they WILL harm themselves. This is stated in most all texts. It is foolish to not follow this.
What is this intake to be like?
Considering that the average being in India back in the time of these texts being written, not a yogi, and as understood by Ayurveda as well as other cultural texts, they had the context to eat 2 anna kalas (times to eat) back in those days as it is still known to be the healthy amount today as well, meaning they ate only twice a day. It is not Western nutrition. Infact, there is an old adage that a yogi (he who is NOT living IN the world) eats once a day. A bhogi (one who is living IN the world) eats twice a day. A rogi (a diseased person) eats thrice a day. Four men carry you to the funeral pyre. Meaning that one who eats 4 meals a day creates his own disease due to consuming too much and has a very short life with disease.
Improper diet will clog and block channels which vayu moves through normally. Doing pranayam while eating a Western diet absolutely WILL create disease. Food intake of a yogi hardly looks like anything that is being considered yogi food by the pop yoga culture examples linked to below.
These are not at anything to do with any knowledge of yoga but all Western health pop culture based.
More so, they are very obviously (to the learned) not the proper diet of a real yogi, specially the last article link with raw food as raw food is very difficult to digest, cold, and heavy. Do you really think a yogi ate raw foods back in time? Really? Let’s also add that if you just open the real texts of Ayurveda, you will see that there are many diseases that are caused by eating raw food. Plain and clear.
In India, it is common knowledge that a yogi eats only once a day. All of this does show though, what is the knowledge of the masses and even the “Top Teacher’s” as Yoga Journal page points out. What are they teachers of then? Surely not what India’s ancient texts call yoga. There is also a traditional verse that states Hita Bhukta, Mita Bhukta, Ashaka Bukta, as a reply from a rishi about what to do to live long. Ashaka means “no” shaka or vegetables. Interesting huh? Maybe i will write about that in the future.
Meanwhile, Back to the prana and food.
Here is the why…..
It is quite simple in understanding chitta, which is not mind but is the medium through which consciousness functions. It is a field. It is not a mechanical material idea of expression of thoughts and emotions and it is also not the brain. When chitta is disturbed by vritti it disturbs the pranas which in their imbalance disturbs how the physiology of the body functions. One of those disturbed pieces of the physiology is the digestion. Hence, the reason for Ayurveda stating not to eat when one is distressed or emotional. It becomes dysfunctional in different different diagnosable and trackable ways (with Ayurveda) and ama is then produced. Ama is the toxicity that is created of improperly (cooked in your body ) digested food, the same that is the coating that is on the tongue. That coating is aama. All of this is basic disease process. From subtle to manifest. Not just in ayurveda but also in yoga and in everything in the vedic comprehension. This is also why any meditation creates better health due to the tranquility of the mind it creates. That is also if the meditation is meditation that gets one out of the mind rather than provoking the mind with thought and imagery and nonsense further disturbing it and creating vrittis and samskaras or identifications. Meditations that are focusing the mind on creating something or manifesting what is not reality (based upon desires), is just that.
When Prana does not move properly in the nadis in the subtle body, it is due to impurities of pitta and kapha. The same in the srotas (channels) of the gross body. The same would be in annavahasrotas (the digestive system of the gross body) as seen as the example of constipation. Understand that there are various levels that we are working with here. Those blockages are caused by improper food ingestion (ahara), improper digestion (disturbed agni), improper lifestyle (vihara), and everything mentioned up above. This causes vata to move incorrectly. Vata dosha is the constituent that creates dynamism of the sharira (body). Its normal path is hampered or vitiated and vata becomes blocked. It creates disease, improperly and malformed tissues that are places for disease to set in and then injuries as well because of it. It also causes the mind to be like the wind. More on prana and the mind in a moment. To this day, I have not met one “yoga teacher”or know of any “style” of yoga of the modern world of yoga that understands or teaches the underpinnings of what the asanas that they are teaching do with prana. This states volumes for all of the unfounded practices out there that are ungrounding, excessive exercise beyond one’s capacity, vata imbalancing, and prana depleting. How is one supposed to know any of this when what is being taught is coming from a Western template of nutrition or exercise with no knowledge of anything else? Quite simply, it is simply not known. How could it be known to someone that has only completed 500 hrs or less of a yoga teacher training based in western exercise theory?
I am curious why, in our convenience we take something from another culture, not in its completeness but very superficially and then sell it or make it to be something it is not by our own cultures context?
This is just the superficial crust of all of this. There is so much more. The common thought it seems is that all of the ancient texts and the supplementary texts (tikas) that are written on them are all wrong and this exercise based in western exercise theory and physiology is the real thing. Except when it behoves us to, yoga teachers quote verses from these texts with pride. Maybe the thought is that prana, vata, pitta, kapha, srotamsi, chakras, nadis, well all of that stuff (and much more)…… it doesn’t really exist? Or because we don’t actually understand any of it (how could somebody with 500 hrs training in asana), we can make it all what ever we want. Besides, the general masses don’t understand it or even know about it, right? But is it all not actually the very foundation and paradigm of yoga? Does it not need to be taught, studied, and experienced to have any idea of what yoga really is? What about the rest of what is written in the texts then as well? As example, if certain pranayama is done without the knowledge of bandhas and how and when to use them one can create disease and even hemorrhoids.
Karma, it is all karma. A being is born because of one’s past bad karma, not because of good karma (as understood from yoga and the other sciences that all of these come from). The only reason why you were born was not because you chose to, it was your past lives actions that led to your rebirth. Not good actions. All of it because of desires. This is why desire is explained in the first chapter of Yoga Sutras. This is fundamentally comprehended in the vedic knowledge as to why all the paths are about burning karma and purification (of mind, body, and soul) and they have the knowledge of how to do it. That IS what the texts are providing an outline of. Birth into this life is a soul confined to a body, a cage, to live out its karma. This is common very basic vedic knowledge. Eight bondages tie the soul to the body cage (rib cage).
One perceives as per their individual mind by use of the sense organs which use prana to do so. The mind and ahamkara (ego/I former/that which gives identification) gives importance to the body and to one’s immediate life and situations. It is only karma playing out. By the comprehension of this, it is easy to see that one living in a maya really cannot know the Self, although many claim to. As stated by the knowledge of yoga, all of the texts written (and that is a lot of manuscripts by a lot of achieved beings over along period of time), without the control of the mind, that being the very first step, one lives in a delusionary world of the mind (chitta vritti), making meaning of their karma, a reaction to the external only and replaying that life over and over. This is not knowing the self. Realization of the self is not transient, it is not a state or a ping pong game of bouncing in and out of like new age spirituality would like to let you think. The ping pong game speaks to either the lack of capacity of the vessel itself or the incorrectness of the practice. All of it also one’s karma. The idea of all of this being transient and we are just to experience pockets is comical because we are continuing to try to live in two opposing paradigms at once. Of course, it is not possible. What is the long term effect of this and false knowledge? No ancient yogic texts speak of that because they did not have teachers with 200 or 500 hours of information guiding their teaching and making up new ways of Western based exercising. Back then had study for a very long time with a real guru and it wasn’t like the lifestyle was about fashion or had all the heady mind illness that we have today in the modern culture we live to either. So what is the effect of trying to live something that is not attainable or healthy for the mind?
The meaning of “yogash chitta vritti nirodhah” becomes clear. Yoga is nothing else than this. This makes the words samadhi, nirodha, and yoga all inter-changeable words that are pretty much the exact same thing. It isn’t asana and asana has no chance of being yoga. Asana simply means to sit or a seat. It is only a vahana or vehicle to dhyana. In hatha yoga, asanas are held. This is satva. Everything based on Western exercise is only rajas producing.
Modern Yoga has taken the Sloka and turned it into what fit their understanding from a mundane world point of view. One person translated, “Yoga is a path, a method, to bring the mind and body into harmony. A clear, unwavering mind is Patanjali’s definition of yoga. (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, 1.2 Yogash Citta Vritti Nirodaha)” This is a very poor translation by someone that has a mundane world perspective of yoga only.
There is mundane knowledge and then there is higher knowledge or paravidya. The mundane may be a understanding of the thing but purely from a material level. Much like people that do not believe in god yet believe they are sattvic or spiritual, when one of the qualities itself of higher knowledge is definite theism.
Prana is responsible for all sensory and motor everything, in the system of your being. It is what animates you and more. The movement of prana and apana is what makes life or what is considered a prani, a living being. Prana and apana cease movement when one dies. Controlling prana and apana is pranayama and only when prana is absorbed into chitta is samadhi. This is specifically clear in yoga texts and experienced as well. Prana and chitta when piercing brahma granthi brings them into vaishnavi and this awakens shakti but this is only possible thru an initiation of a real guru. You are not going to find out how on this blog or others. When this happens, it is not a transient state. Your not coming back. Sorry, I use the word state for a lack of a better one. It is not a state but a level per-say. It is also not a state that is particularly suited to living in the Western modern world of over stimulation and all the other stuff that is in the modern life as then it is even becomes difficult to even drive a car. Life itself is a totally different experience, not the same perception, not able to carry out functions of the mundane world. Certainly, your not going to see someone in this level out teaching it to the masses as it is not even available to the masses, for obvious reasons. Movement of the mind is the quality of the small material self while the stability of the mind is the quality of the divine.
The pacification of chitta brings about siddhi. This is done thru control of vayu. Pranayama. This is also stated in the texts. This cannot be done when there is impurity in the system. It is all about purity and purification, yet this has nothing at all to do with any of the cleanses being sold out there today. One of the fundamental ways of this relies on the digestion and agni working properly in the individual. Are we not right back to the beginning of all this article in disease stemming from one thinking and experiencing only that they are their mind and not having any experience of anything else? What else is there in the Western material based lifestyle of everything being about the worldly things; paying rent or buying the larger house, staying up on the latest pop culture health foods, relationships (ooh thats a big one), trying to constantly feel good about oneself, helping and inspiring others….. what does any of that have to do with this?
Back to Veda…. purification is the utmost important thing. Everyday, everything from that world includes purification as being the one main focus. Unless it is about being in the world and even then this is where all the “rules”, which to someone not having the knowledge of the foundations of all this, might sound weird or dogmatic. These come from with Dharma Shastra and all the other shastras as well.
Bringing prana to the nose, allows one to control prana.
Bringing prana to the big toes, makes one lighter. It is also connected to the eyes.
Bringing the prana to the navel, cures many diseases and then nada and chitta will merge.
Simply bringing prana from adhara to manipura burns karmas.
How to do any of these you are not going to understand in modern yoga.