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Prandharna - Fixation of the mind on the breath

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pranadharna is a compound word, a combination of two words – Prana and Dharna. Prana means breath and dharna means fixation of mind. While practicing Pranadharna, the Yoga aspirant has to fix his/her mind on the incoming and outgoing breath. The mind is thus trained and conditioned. Generally, the practice of Pranadharna is done in three graded steps. If the mind of any person is under the spell of strong emotion or if it is wavering in emotional imbalance or if a person is suffering from an acute disease or pain, he or she should avoid Pranadharna.

Prandharna First Step. Sit at ease in a comfortable posture. Close the eyes. Count the breaths. Count exhalation and inhalation together as one breath. Breathing natural. In case the mind has wandered away and you have forgotten the count, do not try hard to recall the last counted number. Persuade your mind to count a fresh; do not force your self. Practice one round daily of 10 to 45 breaths. Coming out of the practice: Stop counting the breaths and allow normal mental activities. Open the eyes.
Prandharna Second Step. Sit in any comfortable sitting posture. Close eyes. Start counting the breaths. Now feel the touch of incoming and out going breaths at the wall of the nose. Feel the touch continually. Attach the mind to the soft touch of the incoming and out going breaths. Engage the mind in this feeling and enjoy it. Breathing natural and normal. Practice one round daily of 15 to 60 breaths. If mind is distracted from experiencing the touch of the breath and starts thinking of other things, do not compel the mind to feel the touch. Persuade it by expressing only an ardent wish. Coming out of the practice: Get the mind away from the touch of the breath and start counting the breaths. Afterwards, allow normal mental activities. Open the eyes.
Prandharna Third Step. Sit in any comfortable posture preferably on the ground. If convenient, crossed legged (sukhasana) or on the folded legs, toes touching the ground with sole upwards, bottom resting on the heels and knee closed and touching each other in the crotched position (Vazrasana). The sitting posture should be with back resting and the spinal cord in the erect position and both hands with elbows straight, resting on the knee.

Close the eyes. Start counting the breaths. Then start feeling the breaths. Feel the touch of the air for 5 to 10 breaths. Afterwards take the mind on the soft palate and think and feel the thermal sensations, which are produced there because of the touch of the incoming (cool) and the out going (warm) air. Breathing natural and normal. Keep the eyes closed. Enjoy the thermal sensation of the breath at the soft palate.

Practice one round daily of 30 to 75 breaths. If the mind starts thinking of other things. If it does not perceive the sensation at the soft palate, it loses the concentration. Very gently persuade the mind to come back to the specific activity of feeling the sensation of the breath at the soft palate. Many times it is found difficult to perceive the thermal sensations at the soft palate and some times, the mind gets tired in search of the sensation. In such cases, it is advisable to practice the Pranadharna step two for longer time.

Only after the regular and long practice does one succeed in mastering the Pranadharna step three. Coming out of practice: Take the mind away from the sensation at the soft palate to touch of the breaths at the walls of the nostrils. Then start counting the breaths and lastly allow normal mental activities. Open the eyes.

Benefits of Pranadharna. The mind becomes very sharp and more controllable. Capacity for concentration of the mind increases. It prepares the aspirant for meditation.

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