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Pranayama with Eating

Pranayama is generally not practiced until at least three hours have elapsed after full meals. If this is so, how then can one practice Pranayama during the intake of food? The answer lies in the method of practice and the purpose for which it is practiced. In short, Pranayama is generally practiced in order to magnetize the brain and withdraw energy from the body. However, Pranayama practiced while eating is performed to mix higher levels of oxygen with the food being digested to produce a dynamic physio-spiritual energy. All matter, including the food we eat, is made of electrons, protons, and neutrons (among various other subatomic particles). According to Yoga philosophy and modern physics, matter has a wave nature. The universe is actually composed of light. We are really ingesting light and our bodies are composed of light too. Beyond the atoms lies the ocean of pranic forces. If a particular food was devoid of prana, it would be inedible and totally unappetising. When a piece of fruit looses its prana it decays. For this reason, and others, Yogis generally refrain from eating flesh as such food has little to no prana left in it. One would have to take a fork and knife out to the fields and eat the cow straight in order to absorb its prana. The very fact that cows and other animals do not look appealing to eat in their natural state (i.e. alive) is a sign that we must search for our sustenance elsewhere. Also, human beings who do eat meat generally avoid eating animals that are more than one step away from live vegetable sources. That is, we would rather eat a grass-eating cow than a meat eating lion or dog. Fruits and vegetables are mouth-watering by sight or smell and receive their nutriets directly from the sun, air, and soil. By utilizing the methods of Pranayama while eating, the practitioner can absorb far more nutrients, energy, and prana from food than what is normally possible by combining the prana from the air and the prana from the earth (food). Students will also find that digestion, assimilation, and excretion are all made easier.

Jala PranayamaThe hardest aspect of this technique is simply remembering to practice it. Once we get into the habit of practicing, the only difficulty students find is in slowing down the process of eating. Many find it difficult to remain silent while eating and to eat without the television on, but this is also required to successfully practice the technique. All breathing is done through the nostrils. The length of inhalation doubles the length of exhalation. Breathing must be performed very slowly. This is crucial. Fast, restless, and nervous eating often accompanies scattered energies, quicker breathing, and staggered breathing. Counting the intervals of breath is done by the motion of chewing. There is no retention of breath but during swallowing. One to three slow breaths should be performed in between mouthfuls of food. This technique can also be practiced while drinking, but then allow the breath to be broken into several sections by the act of swallowing. After eating, one should sit for several minutes with the tongue curled up and touching the palate. This will unite the energies absorbed and send them to the pineal gland. Before eating one should always practice Agni Sara.

Agni Sara

Agni SaraAgni Sara means "purification by fire." This technique uses the fiery acids in the stomach to cleanse it. This technique will further pull the prana to the brain and give the practitioner gradual control over the action of the heart. Stand with your feet comfortably apart (about eighteen inches), bend the knees, bend forward and place the hands with fingers pointing inward on the thighs. Keep the back straight but lock the chin to the chest by employing jalandhara bandha. Keep the eyes closed with the concentration at the point between the eyebrows. Perform a multiple exhalation though the mouth with the sound of, "huh, huh, huh, huuuuuh" and keep the breath out.

Agni Sara begins once the breath is exhaled. The act of taking a mock inhalation, or the attempt to breathe in without allowing air to enter the lungs, is termed apnoea. With such a false inhalation the abdomen is pulled in and up creating a hollow in the thoracic cavity. With the abdominal muscles and navel pulled firmly back toward the spine, the internal organs including the kidney, liver, spleen, intestines, etc. are toned. Then, with the neck maintaining its pressure firmly on the breastbone and the lungs still empty of air, the entire abdominal area is pushed forward with a strong tension placed on the abdominal muscles. This practices is counted as one Agni Sara. Both the positions of full abdominal retraction and expansion should be held for a split second. There should therefore be ample time to perform twelve Agni Saras by the beginner before the need for oxygen arises. Twelve rounds of twelve Agni Saras can be practiced for best results. The number of Agni Saras can be increased as the student becomes adept at the technique. While some Yogis practice over one thousand Agni Saras per day, the student is advised not to exceed seven hundred and twenty Agni Saras or sixty Agni Saras per round.

The Yogis ask students to eat their food wisely and not to allow food to eat the body of energy and years of life by wrong habits of eating, overeating, and improper digestion. Fasting one day a week on orange juice has been shown to be of tremendous benefit for those who wish to regularly give the system a rest and tune-up. Live more by prana, the real food behind the external menu, and you shall find a joy in the freedom from food-consciousness. Practice the above techniques habitually and gradually free yourself from the habit of being dependant on food.

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