208 – Chaturtha Pranayama – the perfect pranayama

We all have this question, is there a perfect pranayama which one can practice in front of people unobserved. There are numerous pranayamas mentioned and each one is better than the other. They energize our lungs, stimulate our digestive system, regulate our breath and calm our mind. However, they cannot be practiced without the sadhaka being noticed.

If one was to practice sheetkari, bhastrika, kapalbhati or brahmari while travelling in a plane or a train, one would be stared at by all the others. Chaturtha pranayama is a wonderful sadhana and Swami Satyananda, my Guru, describes it thus. He said that it can be practiced unobtrusively. All one has to do is inhale (to the count of 5), exhale (to the count of 5). Gradually one prolongs the duration, inhaling slowly and exhaling for the same duration.

Instruction of Chaturtha Pranayama

In the first stage, inhalation and exhalation through alternate nostrils: inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right. Then inhale through the right and exhale through the left. Continue this for some time. After one has become comfortable to this stage, inhale for five seconds through the left and exhale for five seconds through the right and vice versa.

Counting is done mentally or through a mantra such as Om, Rama, or Om Namah Shivaya. Inhaling one says the mantra and exhaling one repeats the mantra.

Now one breathes through both nostrils, applying the same method of inhalation and exhalation.

Two points have to be kept in the mind. One is visualizing the breath and not closing the nostrils physically. And this practice can also be done in shavasana. It will give peace of mind and sound sleep.

Chaturtha pranayama is very beneficial. It enables one to not be influenced by one’s thoughts. If there is tamas guna in one, it will induce sound sleep. If there is rajas guna in one, it will induce dreams. If there is a combination of all gunas in one, it will induce dreams and later sleep. When there is abundance of sattwa in one, it will bring about true visions and then sleep. What is truly wonderful about it is that one can practice it anywhere, any place and it removes our doubts and fears, making us have faith in ourselves.

Fifth International Yoga Convention, Raigarh, 1968.

Aim Hrim Klim

Photo by Victor on Unsplash

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