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Advanced Secret Aids in the Practice of All Forms of Pranayama

Strictly speaking, Yogis do not hold secrets from the rest of humanity. The teaching of Pranayama are free to all like the rays of the sun. However, as the science of Yoga is the greatest form of knowledge that has ever been devised by humanity, the Yogis protect its teachings to prevent it from becoming distorted or from reaching undeserving hands. The undeserving are those who do not value the precepts and principles and so trample on them with their indifference and worldliness. Those who respect the teachings of Yoga will do no less than practice Yoga Pranayama but will not impart its methods without permission from the teacher that gave those methods. Hence the phrase, "na datavyam, na datavyam, na datavyam," Don't impart, don't impart, don't impart.

In the countless millenniums that Yogis fine-tuned the science of Pranayama, many secret aids that assisted Yogis in mastering prana were discovered and incorporated into the practice of Yoga. For example, as solar currents travel east to west, Yogis realized that facing East during the practice of Pranayama was advantageous in one's efforts to go within. However, they found that when one was consciously exiting the body for the last time (death of the body), it was best to ritually face north. They also discovered that sitting on wool was found to be useful in creating a barrier between the sitting yogi and the mundane currents that travel through the earth. They further found that silk was an insulator of prana and so by wearing silk regularly and placing silk over the wool during Pranayama practice there would be no loss or "evaporation" of the often scattered pranic currents that run through the body.

Continuing, Yogis realized that some oils such as olive oil were in fact conductors of prana and so by applying olive to the hair and other parts of the body the Yogi could absorb greater amounts of free pranic currents roaming through the ether. Yogis discovered that practices like fasting and keeping silence were effective in saving one's pranic nervous energy to be used in greater force during the practice of Pranayama. Yogis also realized that the adherence to the Yogic injunctions of yama and niyama was a form of Pranayama as it limited the flow of prana into restlessness producing activities.

Yogis also found that the sun's ultraviolet rays, when united with the heightened pranic currents in the spine and body, was able to produce a spiritual power in the body of the sun-bathing Yogi. Yogis therefore spent many of their hours during practice naked and in direct sunlight. Through the use of tension and breath retention, the rays of the sun mix with the prana of the body and create a tremendous healing force. This science of health and spirituality is called heliotherapy.

The ancient Yogis discovered that sleep was the subconscious practice of Pranayama and so the narrow window between wakefulness and sleep was a door to the superconscious state. Yogis therefore made efforts to remain mentally awake while the body slept. This is done through will power and attention directed at the point between the eyebrows. Watch the body sleep from that high vantage point. It was also determined that if the state of ecstasy was marked by a cessation of breathing, then Bliss could be experienced by mimicking the state of breathlessness. In other words, Yogis assume the virtue of Bliss by placing their bodies psychophysically in the motionless state which corresponds to the Blissful state.

Yogis determined that while the mind was restless by nature, the thoughts could be calmed by the use of the feeling heart. Toward this end, Yogis practiced Pranayama with one or both hands at the chest in an effort to extend the antenna of the heart outward. This both calmed the mind and brought peace to the thoughts and emotions. Armed with your mastery of prana and devotion, as Krishna points out, the Yogi exits this world for that which lies beyond nirvana. The only two things you take with you with the death of the body are your devotion and mastery of prana. Yogis also realized that by puffing the chest out with the back straight during Pranayama, courage and drive which aided one in sitting for long hours would manifest in the practitioner's consciousness.

The Yogis found that noise was among the greatest of distractions to the mind making efforts to hear the inner sounds of the chakras. Yogis then designed the armrest on which the Yogi could, for extended periods, rest the arms and place the thumbs on the tragi of the ears and close off the ears to all sounds. They discovered that by adhering to a vegetarian diet the mind and pranic currents were more easily controllable. Yogis also realized that the practice of continence was very beneficial where mastery of prana was concerned. Moving on, it was found that it was best to practice Pranayama four times a day. Once at 5 am, then at 11 am, a third time at 5 pm, and lastly at 11 pm. By following such a schedule the Yogi was able to minimize the effects of aging on the body.

Yogis discovered that inverting the body daily promoted health, both physical and mental, longevity, concentration, and happiness. Further, of all the trees under which to sit and do Pranayama, Yogis found that the pine tree was conducive toward meditation. They also found that more energy (negative ions) was in the air in caves and/or near waterfalls. Yogis realized also that cooler weather was generally better for the practice of stillness. Continuing, water, used in a variety of ways, was found to be a cure for most ailments. Water can be both bathed in and ingested. During bathing, certain salts, aromas, muds, and minerals could be added to water of different temperatures. Ingested, water can be boiled with herbs, combined with fruit juices, made sweet or salty depending on the end in mind, and can be gargled with. Also, bathing before Pranayama was found to harmonize and settle all of the pranic currents in the body. Continuing, working with the earth as in gardening and farming was a good way to overcome the ego and cultivate humility. Finally, they found that the most spiritually beneficial of all foods were fruits.

The keys to success in Pranayama are to breathe very slowly, to keep the inhalation and the exhalation at about the same duration, and to listen to the sounds of the breath. The breath should in no way be made to sound choppy. Breathing must be fluid and fine. Slow down your breathing until you can inhale for twenty-two seconds, hold the breath comfortably for a few moments, and exhale for twenty-two seconds without any strain whatsoever.

Make an effort to incorporate some, if not many, of the above secret aids into your daily life. Practice Pranayama in the sun for ten minutes to one-half hour a day, especially in the winter when the sun is weaker in strength. Work with the earth and begin your own home garden. Eat healthier and be sure to include an abundance of fruit in your diet. Live in negative ion rich surroundings. Failing that, buy an ionizer and perhaps an inversion table so that you may invert once or twice a day. Fast regularly and make every effort to be in silence where talking is unnecessary. Make an effort to mentally remain awake and aware even as the body falls asleep. It is not easy, but with practice you can do it. Sit with spine erect during Pranayama and keep the chest out. Always remember to breathe very very slowly during Pranayama. The slower the breath, the greater the benefits.