This pranayama is a classical technique, which is referred to in the Gheranda Samhita as a “perfect cleanser.” It is a purifying practice which, if done as a regular sadhana, burns the karmas of many lifetimes. The karmas are coded in the structure of the aura, the flow patterns of the subtle nadis, and in the deep structure of the mental body.
This breath creates a powerful neutral balance of prana and apana and encourages the flow of kundalini into the central channel of the spine, the sushmuna. Every serious student should spend some time perfecting the benefits of this kriya.
When practicing this pranayam, be sure you have an empty stomach or have eaten very lightly.
Posture: Sit in Easy Pose with the spine straight.
Mudra: Use your right hand to alternate the breath through the left and right nostrils. The tip of the thumb can block the right nostril and either the Jupiter (index) finger or the Mercury (pinkie) finger can block the left nostril. Apply only enough pressure to gently and thoroughly close the nostril. Do not press too hard.
Eyes: Fix the eyelids 1/10th open and gently roll the eyes upward slightly to enhance your mental focus. Concentrate through the Brow Point. Relax the eyelids so they do not flutter.
Breath & Mantra: The breath pattern is 1 count - inhale; 4 counts - hold; 2counts - exhale. Inhale through the left nostril for 1 count. Hold the breath in for 4 counts. Exhale through the right nostril for 2 counts. Inhale through the right nostril for 1 count. Hold the breath in for 4 counts. Exhale through the left nostril for 2 counts.
This breath can be done without mantra. But rather than just counting the rhythm or the sound of the breath, mantra helps to maintain the rhythm and adds subtle benefits. You can use the Bij Mantra, "Sat Naam" or the Gur Mantra, "Wahe Guru." For example, on the inhale, repeat "Sat Naam" 8 times. Hold as you vibrate, "Sat Naam" 32 times. Then as you exhale, repeat "Sat Naam" 16 times. Or you can use "Sa Ta Na Ma," inhaling to 1 cycle, holding for 4 cycles, exhaling for 2 cycles.
Focus/Visualization: In addition to the breath ratio and the mantra, you can visualize the path of prana. Inhale and visualize light flowing down the side of the spine to the base of the spine, on the same side as the breath-in nostril. As you hold the breath in, feel and see the light swirling and growing, with increasing heat, in a cauldron at the base of the spine under the Navel Point. As you exhale, see the light travel up the other side of the spine and out the nostril to the Infinite.
Continue for 15 - 62 minutes. To end, sit in a deep meditation for a few minutes.
© 3HO. This kriya is courtesy of YB Teachings, LLC.
This pranayam can be found in Praana Praanee Praanayam and in the Library of Teachings.