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Preparation

  • Practice on an empty stomach
  • Practice at a quiet time each day away from noise and distractions.
  • If suffering from heart problems or high blood pressure practice Part 1 and consult a qualified Iyengar Yoga teacher before proceeding.
  • For those with back problems. When lying on the floor - bend the knees slightly and place a bolster or roll of blanket under the calf muscles to relieve the stretch of the Lumbar spine.

Savasana
Savasana is the yogic art of relaxation. Sit with the legs extended in front. Roll the Spine down one vertebrae at a time keeping the spine in line with the legs. Place a blanket folded behind the head, level with the top of the shoulders so that the throat remains soft and the back of the head slightly lifted. If the eyes are tense or agitated place a cloth or eye pad across them or wrap a bandage around the forehead and across the eyes ensuring the nasal passages are not restricted. Place the arms at approximately 45 degrees from the sides with the palms facing upwards.

Savasana for Pranayama (with long blanket support see figure 1 above)
Two blankets folded into lengths 6 - 8 inches wide laid along the spine (ensuring the buttocks remain on the floor – figure 1b) to passively open the chest so that the Pranayama cycles come smoothly. Palms turned up to face the ceiling. Head lifted slightly through the support of the blanket.


Sitting

To sit well for pranayama requires a straight, alert spine. If the pelvis is tilted backward the spine will collapse and the back will round as the chest slumps forward. To avoid this, sit with your pelvis tilted so that the sacro-lumbar junction is drawn into the body (see figure 2). Sit tall, lift the spine.

Tight hips also cause the pelvis to collapse - as the knees come higher than the hips, the pelvis tilts back. For this reason cross leg stances or padmasana are preferred for sitting. Blankets folded under the buttocks will assist in maintaining the sitting position.

Placement of the fingers for Digital Pranayama
Using the fingers of the right hand, curl the first 2 fingers into the palm (at the base of the thumb). Bring the thumb, ring and little fingers together so that the tips of these 3 are in contact (figure 3). This requires each knuckle to bend so that the end tip (near the nail) is pressed not the flat pads of the fingers. Place the thumb on one side of the nose and the ring and little finger opposite (figure 4). As the chin is bought to the chest do not loose the lift of the spine. Close the right nostril and exhale through the left, then inhale through the Left and blocking that nostril exhale through the right. Inhale through the right and return to the first side. The pressure to close each nostril should be light using just enough pressure to stem the flow of air. First attempts will be clumsy but proficiency will come with practice.

        


For detailed instructions we have books on the practice of Pranayama or yogic breath work:
Light on Pranayama
by BKS Iyengar
Pranayama: A Classical Approach by BKS Iyengar
Pranaymana: Beyond the fundamentals by Richard Rosen
The Yoga of Breath: A Step by Step Guide to Pranayama by Richard Rosen