SURYA BHEDA PRANAYAM
Surya Bheda Pranayama (vitality stimulating breath)
Assume a comfortable meditation asana with the head and spine straight.
Place the hands on the knees in either chin or jnana mudra.
Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
When the body is comfortable, still and relaxed, watch the breath for a few minutes until it spontaneously becomes slow and deep.
Adopt nasagra mudra (see nadi shodhana pranayama).
Close the left nostril with the ring finger and inhale slowly and deeply through the right nostril.
At the end of inhalation close both nostrils, retain the breath and perform jalandhara and moola bandhas. Maintain for just a few seconds when first practising this pranayama.
Release moola bandha and then jalandhara bandha.
When the head is upright once more, exhale slowly through the right nostril by keeping the left nostril closed with the ring finger.
This is one round.
Awareness: On the breath and mechanics of the practice.
Duration: When first practising surya bheda pranayama, 10 rounds are sufficient. Over time, however, as the practice becomes comfortable and easy, the duration may be increased to 10 to 15 minutes. Slowly increase the length of retention over a matter of months. A ratio of 1:1:1 may be introduced which may then be increased to 1:2:2 and later to 1:4:2.
Precautions: Never practise surya bheda pranayama after food as it will interfere with the natural flow of energy associated with digestion. This pranayama may cause imbalance in the breathing cycle if performed for more than 30 minutes. Surya bheda is a very powerful pranayama and should only be performed under expert guidance.
Contra-indications: People suffering from heart disease, hypertension or epilepsy should not practise this pranayama.
Benefits: This practice creates heat in the body and counteracts imbalances of the vata dosha or wind element. It stimulates and awakens the pranic energy by activating pingala nadi. By increasing extroversion and dynamism, it enables physical activities to be performed more efficiently and helps to alleviate depression. It is especially recommended for those who are dull and lethargic or who find it difficult to communicate with the external world. It makes the mind more alert and perceptive and is an excellent premeditation pranayama. It is also useful in the treatment of low blood pressure, infertility and worms.
Note: The Sanskrit word surya means 'sun', which refers to pingala nadi, while bheda means 'to pierce', 'pass through' or 'awaken'. Surya bheda, then, means to pierce or purify pingala nadi.