Question: – Do you believe in good and bad, or just in conscious and unconscious action?
Sw. Satyananda Saraswati: – Surely, there is good and there is bad. Firstly, if someone is cheating someone, or if somebody is murdering someone, or if someone is taking poison, it is bad. Good and bad are the two traits of the mind, body and individual, but they are, of course, not absolute.
Secondly, you have to believe, for some time, in good and bad. If you go deep and analyse yourself properly, or if you introspect, you will realize that virtually everybody does believe in good or bad. One may not know, or he may not acknowledge, or in his ignorance or arrogance, he may say that he doesn’t believe in it, but he does.
However, for one who has transcended the realm of duality, for the person who has developed equal vision of mind, there is no consciousness of good and bad, because he has transcended all notions of duality. If I say that I don’t believe in good or bad, it means that I have transcended duality, and if I have transcended duality, then I am not an ordinary man. However, it is necessary for every ordinary person to have clear-cut awareness about good and bad, in relation to society, to his body, to his mind, and to his spiritual progress.
Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing is practised by enhancing the action of the diaphragm and minimizing the action of the rib cage. The diaphragm is a domed sheet of muscle that separates the lungs from the abdominal cavity and, when function correctly, promotes the most efficient type of breathing. It is the effect of the diaphragm rather than the diaphragm itself that is experienced as the stomach rises and falls. During inhalation the diaphragm moves downwards, pushing the abdominal contents downwards and outwards. During exhalation the diaphragm moves upwards and the abdominal contents move inward.
Movement of diaphragm signifies that the lower lobes of the lungs are being utilized. The proper use of the diaphragm causes equal expansion of the alveoli, improves lymphatic drainage from the basal parts of the lungs, massages the liver, stomach, intestines and other organs that lie immediately beneath it, exerts a positive effect on the cardiac functions and coronary supply, and improve oxygenation of the blood and circulation.
Abdominal breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breathe. Due to tension, poor posture, restrictive clothing and lack of training, however, it is often forgotten. Once this technique again becomes a part of daily life and correct breathing is restored, there will be a great improvement in the state of physical and mental well-being.
Lie in shavasana and relax the whole physical body. (Pic 1)
If you wish, you may place one hand on the abdomen, on the navel and the other hand on the chest. This is to indicate that your abdomen does move up and down with breath and the chest remains at rest.
Continue observing the natural breath for a while.
Then, breathe out slowly and completely. (Pic 2)
As you breathe out feel your abdomen contract; the navel will move
towards the spine.
Remember that it is the movement of your diaphragm that is responsible for abdominal breathing.
At the end of exhalation the diaphragm will be totally relaxed and will be bowing upwards into the chest cavity.
Hold your breath for a second or so.
Then breathe in deeply and slowly into the abdomen. (Pic 3)
Try not to expand the chest or move the shoulders.
Feel your abdomen expand, the navel moving upwards.
At the end of inhalation your diaphragm will be bowing in the direction of the abdomen; your navel will be at its highest point.
Hold your breath for a second or so.
Then exhale again, slowly and completely.
Again try to feel the navel moving towards the spine.
At the end of exhalation your abdomen will be contracted, the navel at its nearest point to the back.
Hold the breath for a short time, inhale and then repeat the whole process.
The control of vital and psychic energy is a matter of great concern to any practitioner of yoga, whether he be interested in it for therapeutic, health or spiritual purposes. The science of yoga is itself the science of life energy, and pranayama is the most direct method which has yet been found to adjust the energy flows within human body.
Many people consider pranayama to be a physical practice of breath control, but it is not so. The main effects of pranayama manifests in the nervous system and in the subtle psychic energy body, and the control of breath is only the means of manipulating these finer processes.