I acknowledge this depiction of the 5 pranas in the pranic sheath or pranamaya kosha, within the mind body energy system.
In the first verse that i blogged in the last post about, Shiva talks about becoming aware of prana and apana, the two vital prana, breath, energies. Prana is the upward moving breath and apana is the downward moving breath. Shiva says: be mindful of where these breaths originate.
Prana, the upward breath moves from the navel energy center, manipuraka chakra, towards the eyebrow energy center, ajna chakra, and from there to higher points above. Apana, the downward moving breath, also moves from the manipuraka chakra but downwards to the two lower centers of swadishtana in the groin and muladhara in the perineum.
There are variations in explaining how exactly all this happens in scholarly commentaries. However, if one goes by the verse, Shiva asks us to focus on the manipuraka chakra from which both these prana and apana energies arise, and be aware of them. One way of doing this by bringing one’s attention to the manipuraka chakra and visualize the energy at that center, as if one is breathing from that point.
Shiva’s technique is a dharana or focusing the sense. Here the focus is watching the navel breathe!
In the next verse Shiva says:
Holding prana and apana
Experience Me, no different from You.
From merely watching prana and apana, Shiva now asks us to hold them.
So, inhale as prana and hold. Then exhale as apana and hold. Between inhalation and exhalation pause and be aware.
In pranayama, as practised in Yoga, inhalation is pooraka, exhalation is rechaka and holding is kumbhaka. In the first verse, the technique given was awareness of generation of pooraka and rechaka. Now, the technique is awareness of kumbhaka.
Be careful. Shiva is not asking us to count the number of seconds we inhale , exhale or hold. It’s not pranayama he teaches. It’s awareness he teaches. For those used to traditional pranayama, breathing like the bellows, this may be a shift in body, breath, mind and energy.
Shiva has moved us from the annamaya kosha and pranamaya kosha, to the manonmaya and vigyanamaya koshsas. From body and breath layers, he has taken us to the mind and beyond mind sheaths. Here, there is no physical control of the breath. There’s only awareness. The mind needs to be active and then we need to move into witnessing, beyond the mind.
Initially, one may need to start with conscious holding of the breath between inhalation and exhalation, as well as between exhalation and inhalation. Gradually, this process will become spontaneous. There is no counting, no conscious holding, merely relaxed breathing in which the pauses between breaths become as natural as the in and out breaths themselves.
In this pause, Shiva says, I manifest. He also says I am no different from You.
The awareness of the sources of prana and apana, incoming and outgoing breaths, and the awareness of the pauses or gaps between them, lead to where Shakti resides and therefore, where Shiva manifests.
Practise this dharana, till the pause between breaths is as comfortable as the breath itself.