Cautions

Home/Pranayama/Cautions

Cautions & preparations in Pranayama

  • Mastery over Asanas –  Pranayama calls for command over Asanas and the discipline and strength arising from it.
  • Strict supervision – It is to be done under strict supervision of the Yoga teacher. The Yoga teacher determines whether the subject is fit and can perform Pranayama.
  • Hygiene or cleanliness – Rules of cleanliness need to be observed while performing Pranayama.
  • Bladder should be emptied and bowels evacuated.
  • Food and Pranayama – Pranayama should be practised on an empty stomach. If required, a cup of milk, tea, coffee or cocoa may be taken. A 6 hour gap after having meals is necessary before practising Pranayama. Pranayama can be followed by light food (after about half an hour).
  • Time- It should preferably be practised either early in the morning (before sunrise, if possible) or after sunset. According to Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Pranayama should be practised 4 times a day (early morning, noon, evening and midnight). However, since this is not possible in today’s scenario, it is suggested that Pranayama be practised at least 15 minutes daily.
  • Place – It needs to be practised in a clean, airy, quiet place that is free from insects.
  • Posture –
    • Breathing in Pranayama is done through the nose only (except in shitali and sitakari).
    • The posture adopted for practising Pranayama are Siddhasana, Padmasana and Baddhakonasana.
    • The Back should be kept erect from the base of the spine to the nape of the neck and at right angle to the floor.
    • Strain should be avoided in in the facial muscles, ears and eyes, neck, shoulders, thighs and feet.
    • The tongue should be kept passive to avoid accumulation of saliva in the mouth. If it accumulates, swallow it before exhalation and not during the retention or restraining of breath.
    • Sit in the posture with Jalandhara Bandha. In this Bandha, the head is hung down from the nape of the neck, the chin rests in the notch between the collar bones on the top of the breast bone. This position is adopted usually while practising Pranayama.
    • Eyes should be kept closed to avoid distraction or burning sensation/ irritation in the eyes.
    • Pressure inside ears should be avoided.
    • Place hands as in the Jnana Mudra.
  • The Mind is kept passive and alert.
  • Duration – Pranayama is done as per the capacity of the subject.
  • Forceful/ stressful inhalation and exhalation is contraindicated except in Bhastrika Pranayama.
  • Timing –  Asana and Pranayama
    • Asanas should never be practised immediately after Pranayama. An interval of at least one hour is mandatory before starting Asanas .
    • Pranayama can be practised after 15 – 30 minutes of performing an Asana.
  • Don’t practise Pranayama when tired.
  • Ratio of inhalation and exhalation time –  The duration of inhalation and exhalation need to be equal
  • Shavasana – Pranayama should always be followed by Shavasana for 5-10 minutes. It rejuvenates the body and the mind.
  • Kumbhaka
    • Bandhas like Jalandhara, Uddiyana and Moola should be observed in Kumbhaka. Kumbhaka is retention of the breath after inhalation and restraint of breath after complete exhalation.
    • One should learn to practice inhalation (Puraka) and exhalation (Rechaka) before attempting Kumbhaka.
    • Try to avoid unconscious and unintentional strain on the abdominal organs and a tendency to draw in air for the purpose of increasing the duration of retention of breath.
    • Kumbhaka is contraindicated in persons inflicted with eye (Glaucoma or Kala Motiya) or ear problems (Pus in the ear).