Beloved readers and friends,
Yoga is a holistic, scientific, mathematics like tool of self-discovery. I trust there is no controversy about the statement that self-discovery or self-realization is the zenith of human potential. This action-based-tool for self-realization originated in India in Vedic times. If we believe Vedic texts its origin in time is millions of years ago yet if we have not yet allowed ourselves to be swayed away by these so called baseless declarations in Hindu scriptures you can still have all the reasons and testimonies of highly educated, historians and archeologists (bound by ‘seeing is believing’ paradigm) to take its origin minimum of 5000-10,000 years back in time. How they arrived at this time is simple. Since Upnishads, into which Vedas culminate at the end have elaborate mention of Yoga.
So now lets go by the fact that Yoga originated 5000 years back. So now what your logical instinct tells you? It must help you navigate to the logical conclusion that hundreds or thousands years of research should have been put before penning down these principles. Right? Yes! thats correct. Our seers could not have been able to arrive at certain principles and practices by using just their intuitive faculty of mind. The reason is simple – Yoga is action oriented and to understand the effect of certain postures, breathing patterns on body, mind complex there would have been enough experimentation. They would have definitely discovered that if things are not done in a definite sequence they become harmful for out body, that they produce ill-health instead of good health and better control over mind-body.
Thus came certain laws, disciplines which we MUST follow if we are adopting Yoga as a discipline in our life. Yoga was very popularly practised and some of the seers and rishis did suggest modifications in the individual components of yoga but the most astounding fact is – No one ever changed the sequence of steps in Yoga. Which are – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dhyana, Dharna and Samadhi.
Without discussing more on Yama, Niyama (these are principles to discipline your own conduct torwards others and self) and Asana (the practice of mastering a posture in which you can sit comfortably without slightest of movement for long hours) we shall move into Pranayama.
The most important point to be noted is that before Pranayama, Sadhaka (practicioner) should cleanse his body, its internal organs and also its energy channels (Nadis). The point to be noted is that this cleansing (Shuddhi) has not been limited to only body rather well within its intricate systems of Nadis. Nadis are in fact energy/sensation carriers inside our body and there is mention of 72,000 nadis in various Vedic texts. These Nadis are to be purified, cleansed before indulging in Pranayama.
Do I have any basis in making this statement? Yes, very much. Please read the below shloka (verse number 53) from Trishikhbraahmnopanishada.
Yamaishch Niyamaishchaiv Aasanaishch susanyatah|
NaadiShuddhim cha Kritvaadou Pranayamam samacharet||
It clearly warns the Sadhaka that after having perfected Yama, Niyama and Asana one must purify one’s Naadis. Thereafter Pranayama has to be practised.
If pranayamas are attempted/practiced without having accomplished nadi-shuddhi it upsets the flow of vayus in the physical body. All the vayus i.e. prana, apana, samana, vyana and udana might get disturbed leading to many ailments beyond diagnosis.
I received some questions and people asked me that they have their own doubts whether these rules are to be observed by people who are practising Yoga only for physical benefits. The answer to that is – Your body-mind-complex does not recognize the reason for what you are running. Whether you are running to catch a train or a thief or participating in marathon.. your decision and action of running has its effect on your health. If you do it regularly you benefit from it. If you are doing it for the first time.. out of compulsion or anything of that sort.. may be just to save yourself from the robbers then you should be ready to bear the consequences. You shall face the brunt of sudden jerks and steep challenges your body is subjected to.
Now here comes an intermediate step between Asana and Pranayama and that is Nadi-Shodhan. And now when you know the fact I would just hope that like a literate, wise person who is keeping oneself aware in various fields by visiting sites on net, surfing through blogs like mine – you would refrain yourself from such practice.
TV Gurus, people teaching you art of living, Gym-savvy modern gurus teaching you power-yoga – All of these are committing a grave mistake. They are ignoring this intermediate step of Nadi-Shodhan.
I know that now those who have read this post of mine, would like to know about what are the exact harms of not following this rule. Some of you may want to know what is method of “Nadi Shodhan” as well. Pranayama is the prerequisite to pratyahara and then dhararna and yet another step of ‘Tattwa-Shuddhi’ is to be done if someone wishes to dive deeper in ‘dhyan’ or meditation.
I have written a lot about all these and also how ‘Tattva Shakti Vigyaan‘ works on all these preliminary and preparatory practices along offering the practitioners a clear path forward in their evolution with spirituality.
– Ach. Agyaatdarshan Anand Nath