Q. Is it right to say that Pranayama is unnecessary in the practice of Raja Yoga?
A. No; Pranayama forms one of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga.
Q. Is it dangerous to practise Pranayama without the assistance of a Guru (Teacher)?
A. People are unnecessarily alarmed. You can practise ordinary Pranayama exercises without the help of a Guru. A Guru is necessary if you want to practise Kumbhaka or retention of breath for long time and unite Apana with Prana. The books written by realised Yogins can guide you if you are not able to get a Guru. But it is better to have a Guru by your side or you can get the lessons from him and practise them at home. You can keep regular correspondence with him. You can retain the breath from to 1 or 2 minutes without any difficulty or danger. If you cannot get a realised Yogi, you can approach senior students of Yoga. They also can help you.
Q. Will the practice of Pranayama alone awaken the sleeping Kundalini Sakti?
A. Yes. Asanas, Bandhas, Mudras, Japa, meditation, strong and pure irresistible analytical will, the grace of Guru, devotion,-all these also will awaken the Kundalini Sakti.
Q. What are the effects of the practice of Khechari Mudra?
A. It will help the student to stop the breath. He can have nice concentration and meditation. He will be free from hunger and thirst. He can change the breath from one nostril to another quite easily. He can have Kevala Kumbhaka also very easily.
Q. What are the symptoms when the Prana and Apana are united and when the Prana passes in Sushumna?
A. When Prana and Apana are united, the united Prana-Apana will pass through the Sushumna and the practitioner will become dead to the world, i.e., he will lose the consciousness of his body, environments and the world but will have perfect awareness. He will feel Divine Thrill, Divine Ecstasy and the experiences of the lower stages of Samadhi. When the Prana proceeds higher in Sushumna, different kinds of experiences at different Chakras are felt by the practitioner (which cannot be described but should be experienced). When the Prana reaches Sahasrara, the Yogi attains Samadhi.
Q. Should one in the practice of Pranayama during Maha Bandha also maintain the proportion 1:4:2 ?
A. Yes, in Maha Bandha the proportion for inhalation, retention and expiration is 1:4:2.
Q. If one practises Bandhatraya Pranayama and practises Puraka 10 Matras, Kumbhaka 40 Matras and Rechaka 20 Matras, how long must be the pure Kumbhaka and how long the expiratory pause with Uddiyana?
A. In Bandhatraya, beginners need not have any expiratory pause. Advanced students can have it for 5 or 6 seconds. In Bandhatraya, the main Kundalini (1:4:2) is quite sufficient for the union of Prana and Apana.
Q. What is the difference between Tadana Kriya and Maha Vedha?
A. In Tadana Kriya one can breathe in any way. But Maha Vedha Pranayama should be practised as described in Bandhatraya.
Q. Is Pranayama necessary for getting Darsana of the Lord?
Q.When the Prana is taken up to the tenth door (Brahmarandhra), on the crown of the head, will the practitioner feel a pinprick ?
Q.What is Urdhvaretah Pranayama?
A. While doing Sukha-Purvaka or Loma-Viloma Pranayama one would feel that the Virya is flowing up towards the Sahasrara at the crown of the head in the form of Ojas. This is Urdhvaretah Pranayama.
Q. If I try to keep the ratio 1:4:2 when I practise Pranayama, I am not able to concentrate on my Ishta Devata. If I try to concentrate I cannot keep up the ratio 1:4:2. Kindly advise what to do.
A. Try to keep the ratio for two or three months. A strong habit will be formed and the ratio will be kept up automatically. Then you can concentrate on your tutelary deity. Mind can do only one thing at a time.
Q. What is the object of inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling through the right nostril and vice versa?
A. This will make the breath rhythmical, steady the nerves and the mind, and allow the Sushumna Nadi to flow, which will be beneficial for meditation. It will keep up a perfect harmony in the system. The five Kosas will vibrate rhythmically.
Q. Can there be any dangerous result in the practice of Pranayama as some people think?
A. There is no danger in practising Pranayama, Asanas, etc., if you are careful, and if you use your common-sense. People are unnecessarily alarmed. There is danger in everything, if you are careless.
Q. I am regular in my Sadhana. The jerks still continue though they are not so frequent as before. Kindly advise me on the matter.
A. Through the practice of Pranayama and meditation, the cells and tissues are vivified. They are charged with new Prana. New Pranic currents are generated. These give rise to jerks in the beginning. They will disappear soon.
Q. Will you be kind enough to elucidate 'Apana Vayu' We inhale air; thereby oxygen is absorbed by blood-cells as well as plasma. But from that oxygen, how Apana is formed. In what part it resides? What is the nature? How and where Prana and Apana unite? Kindly explain scientifically mentioning parts affected thereby.
A. Apana is not formed from oxygen. Apana is energy. Apana resides in the lower part of the abdomen, in the Muladhara, in the descending colon, rectum and anus. Its nature is downward motion. Its function is ejection of urine, gas and excreta. Prana and Apana are united by Kevala Kumbhaka, Kumbhaka, Muladhara, Jalandhara Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha. They are united in the navel or Manipuraka Chakra.
Q. How is Nadi-Suddhi done?
A. The cleansing of the Nadi (Nadi-Suddhi) is either Samanu or Nirmanu-that is, with or without the use of Bija. According to the first form, the Yogi in Padmasana or Siddhasana offers his prayers to his Guru and meditates on him. Meditating on 'Yam' he does inhalation with Japa of the Bija 16 times through Ida, Kumbhaka with Japa of the Bija 64 times, and then exhalation through the solar Nadi and Japa of Bija 32 times. Fire is raised from Manipura and united with Prithvi. Then following inhalation by the solar Nadi with the Vahni Bija 'Ram'16 times, he does Kumbhaka with 64 times Japa of this Bija, followed by exhalation through the lunar Nadi and Japa of the Bija 32 times. He then meditates on the lunar brilliance, gazing at the tip of the nose, and inhales by Ida with Japa of Bija 'Tham' 16 times. Kumbhaka is done with the Bija 'Vam' 64 times. He thinks himself as flooded by nectar, and considers that the Nadis have been washed. He exhales by Pingala with 32 times Japa of the Bija 'Lam' and considers himself strengthened thereby.
If you are careless in getting down through the steps of a stair-case, you will fall down and break your bones. If you are careless when you walk in the busy parts of a city, you will be crushed by the motor-car. If you are careless when you purchase a ticket at the Railway Station, you will lose your money-purse. If you are careless in dispensing mixtures, you will kill the patients by giving a poison or a wrong medicine or administering a medicine in overdose. Even so, when you practise Pranayama and other Yogic exercises, you will have to be careful about your diet. You should avoid overeating; you should take light, easily digestible and nutritious food. You should not go beyond your capacity in retaining the breath. You should first practise inhaling the breath. You should first practise inhalation and exhalation only (without retention of breath) for one or two months. You should gradually increase the ratio from 1:4:2 to 16:64:32. You should exhale very, very slowly. If these rules are observed, there will be no danger at all in the practice of Pranayama and other Yogic exercises.