Week 4. Tantra and breathwork: Prāṇacintā instructions Copy

When you are ready to engage in the practice, assume a comfortable pose and take a slow and low breath. Lengthen your spine. Open your chest. Locate the center of your chest. Delve into that place for a few moments. 

Bring one hand and press gently into that part. On your next exhalation, start noticing how there is an internal flow of air, of vital air, that arises from the center of the heart and extends off by itself without any effort to the nostrils and then outwards. 

Now, bring your attention to the place where the exhaled breath meets the external vital air. It might help if you bring the back of your hand close to your nose and trace the air that you are exhaling down the front body to the point where you cannot feel it anymore. 

This point is thought to be at approximately 12 fingers outside and below the nostrils. You’ll notice that this point where the exhalation begins (the center of the heart) and the point where it ends are parallel to each other. The exhalation begins and ends at the heart center.

On your next inhalation, notice the flow of vital air that emerges from the place where the breath meets the universal air. So from that place – 12 fingers beneath your nostrils – take your breath as if you were bringing that air in from that meeting point up to the nostrils, passing it softly on its way down to the heart. The movement of inhaling, bringing the universal air into our nostrils and into our heart is called puraka 

Now on your next breathing round, notice that at the very end of the inhalation there is a moment where you are neither inhaling nor exhaling. You don’t need to do anything but just be aware of that moment. This is the internal kúmbháka. Kumbha means a pot. For a moment, every time we inhale, we become like a pot full of this vital air. 

There is also an external kumbhaka. So, when you exhale and the air emerges from the heart and goes all the way to that meeting point with universal air, before the prana starts arising, that point where they meet outside is an external suspension. 

As you exhale, there are two phases. Notice first that the air that arises from the heart center, and extends up to the tip of the nose, is filling up the nostrils. Perhaps if you bring your awareness and also your imagination, you could even feel that flow of vital air touching your forehead, inside your head. As if it was feeling this part of your head before it goes out. Then as we exhale from the nostrils down to the 12 fingers below the nostrils, is the second phase where it’s filling up the external space. 

Emptying and filling up are happening at the same time. 

At the end of your exhalation, become ever more aware of that in-between space, the moment right before your inhalation begins. This is a state of equanimity. Just by paying attention to that space between breaths, it will naturally become longer without you putting any effort into it. 

Then after that space of equanimity, the inhalation comes in. As you breathe into the nostrils, notice a flow of air being withdrawn from the universal air. As you inhale, you are withdrawing air from the universal space, and as if you were emptying that space from a part of itself. 

As you are filling yourself up from this universal air, you are emptying that universal air from something that will become you. 

As we become more and more aware of the subtle sensations in our breathing, the airflow that passes through the nostrils down to the heart can go even deeper, to the belly.

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