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T H E T E C H N I Q U E O F B A L A N C I N G T H E T W O S U B T L E B R E A T H S:
This technique is recommendable for both beginners and advanced practitioners. In order to understand this technique, we need to consider first the human being as a transformer of energy, of prana.
An uninterrupted flux of particles, molecules, and atoms traverse the body, not just as solid or liquid form, but also gas, and subtle.
Air that brings us oxygen is also charged with water vapours, and subtle smells, such as the smells of nature play an important role in preserving the health - aromatherapy.
The air contains also energy that is directly assimilated, one of its forms are the negative ions. Consequently, life means changes and transformations. The more active are our changes and interactions with the environment, the more we are alive, in the most dynamic sense of the word.
Our body is a whirl of energy in the universal prana-ic ocean. The yogis perceive distinctly these exchanges of energy with the environment. They even managed to differentiate between these types of energy, and they named them vayu - subtle energy.
The basic sense of the term vayu is sky, which would make someone think of the regular sky, with its chemical components - oxygen, azoth, rare gases.
However, the yogis understand by this word the energies that circulate through the air, in the process of breathing. One absorbs prana-ic energy from the surroundings through prana vayu.
Once the energies are absorbed in the microcircuit of our organism, they have to be personalized and assimilated - this is the function of samana vayu.
Once the body assimilated them, they need to circulate throughout the organism, which is the function of prana vayu. Udana vayu allows the direction and the expression of the energies. The final stage is the elimination, when these energies return to their previous environment. All the functions that concur in this process belong to apana vayu.
THE FUNCTIONS OF THE PRANA AND APANA VAYU
Consequently, the two main vayu-s are prana vayu, which regulates the "intake" of particles and energy, adjusting it to the particular necessities of our organism, and apana vayu, responsible for the elimination of the unabsorbed residues.
We live or we should live balancing these two functions. If apana fails to work properly, the organism is charged with toxins, and lacks vitality and suppleness. One of the main objectives of Hatha Yoga is that of stimulating all the vayu-s in a harmonious manner.
If we act on prana vayu we also need to stimulate apana vayu. Another important objective in Hatha Yoga is to obtain the control over these vayu-s.
This conscious control goes through the control of one function that is alternatively the expression of prana vayu and apana vayu, meaning the breath. While inhaling, the breath is the instrument of prana vayu because it brings us energy.
While exhaling, the breath is the expression of apana vayu, which eliminates the used gases (for instance CO2). The balance of the breath, of the inhalation and exhalation determines the balance of prana vayu and apana vayu.
The following exercise is one of the simplest and most effective in this respect.
Lie back on the floor, relaxed but with a slight contraction of the abdominal muscles so that the lumbar area is on the floor during this exercise. The legs are stretched and they touch each other. It is important to become interiorized and to focus to perceive distinctly the two halves of the body, the left and the right, not the superior and the inferior parts.
We will attempt to balance the sensations at the level of the two halves, without allowing one to predominate over the other, as the right-handed people tend to do with the right side, which they use more. We need to feel that our weight on the left side is the same as on the right side. The arms are also on the floor, along the trunk, palms facing down.
HOW TO DO IT
Each half of the body will work alternatively. First we will work on the left side. Focus on this side, contract the muscles of the shank, flexing the leg. Inhale slowly, lifting up the contracted shank. We need to lift the leg and bring it closer to the body, without lifting or bending the other leg.
At this point, the abdominal muscles are very tensed, especially on the left side. At the end of the inhalation, the leg will be in the up position.
It is very important to relax the muscles of the right side of the abdomen, pay close attention to the left side, and imagine that you breathe only with this side. It is obvious that the air will get in through both lungs but we need to use the left side to its maximum, as if we were unable to breathe with the right side.
When the inhalation is over, we stop for a few seconds, keeping the lungs filled with air. Before exhaling, stretch the toes and we will perceive other muscles that contract the left shank.
Then we exhale slowly, bringing the leg in the starting position. The heel must not touch the ground, before the lungs become empty.