Day 15 – breath retention pranayama

Wine is not conducive to deep meditation. This sounds obvious, but I honestly did not drink that much last night. I am going to guess about 5 glasses of wine drunk at least as many hours, but I don’t drink that much anymore so I guess I have become more sensitive because I woke up this morning feeling pretty ordinary. I couldn’t even fathom meditating because I felt so sick and the cloud in my head was almost visible.

After lunch, around 4.30pm I finally feel like I can sit down to meditate so I choose a nice easy pranayama that will give me some energy. It is a breath retention exercise that is fairly simple, however I suggest practicing breath awareness for a while and then easing in slowly to the breath retention work. The reason is that the retention work is very stimulating and can cause energy to awaken and arise, however if it is not used positively it can result in nervous tension. If practicing this pranayama for the first time, take it easy, know your limits, don’t push yourself and stop if any discomfort arises. 5-10 rounds is probably good to start with and then can be used for longer as you get used to it.

The breath ratio is 1:4:2. Starting at three is fairly easy, so you inhale for a count of three, hold the breath for a count of twelve and then exhale for a count of six. This is one round. I close my eyes and start breathing this way. When I first did teacher training I started to practice pranayama every day and I eventually was able to do this practice in a ratio of 8:32:16, but I am a little rusty and I find that three is great. After a while I move up to 4:16:8 but find it makes me yawn every three rounds, so I go back to 3:12:6. I used to imagine a metronome when I counted, to make sure I wasn’t counting too quickly, but this time I decide to use the om. 1 om, 2 om, 3 om… This quickly gets me into a deep meditative state. I keep breathing this way for most of the meditation and then finally allow my breath to return to normal and sit in stillness for a little while without the pranayama, simply enjoying the state of deep meditation. By the time I open my eyes, 25 minutes have passed easily. This is an extremely effective pranayama.

I think this may be hard in Mexico because I do love tequila, but the more I commit to this practice, the more I think that I should be giving up alcohol altogether.

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