Signs Of Progress In Pranayama

By Rudra Shivananda

A primary yogic practice is the use of breath to control the life-force energy and direct it to awaken our potential divinity. A spiritual path such Kriya Yoga is structured such that most of the practitioner’s sadhana is based on the pranayama according to the principle that prana and mind are directly linked and mastering prana leads to mastery of mind and the awakening of higher consciousness. Kriya pranayama merges seamlessly into Dhyana and eventually Samadhi.

Progress.jpgAll sincere practitioners will experience certain signs during the course of their daily efforts and there always arise questions about whether these are positive or negative. I’m relating the main milestones that are common to everyone so that you can feel re-assured that there is no cause for concern. However, there may be other symptoms which are specific to certain physiologies and karmic dispositions and cannot be covered in a general article.

One of the first effects of pranayama is the occurrence of heat and sweat. This is caused by the purification that is taking place in the physical and subtle bodies and are good signs of progress. The perspiration carries the impurities out with it. Gradually, the perspiration will decrease as the bodies become more purified. If the sweat becomes a distraction, rub it into the body or if there is too much, use a towel to wipe it away before continuing the practice. Sometimes a side-effect of the purification is restlessness which can be addressed with improved posture and mental control.

The navel chakra or manipura is one of the first subtle energy centers to be affected by pranic practice. Sometimes air or gurgling sounds can be present in the digestive system. The primary positive sign is the feeling of heat or light in the navel as the fire element is transformed into a dynamic spiritual power called tejas. The purification of the digestive system is closely related to the transformation of the nervous and endocrine systems.

With the opening of the higher chakras, one starts to experience colored lights and various sounds. Sometimes some sadhaks get confused that the sounds are caused by a physical malady called tinnitus. These pranic sounds are such that when one does not focus internally, the sounds tend to disappear. During certain practices, the sounds can be quite overwhelming but in a positive way. One does not get irritated by them. There is no need to dwell too much on them either as they are like sign-posts on the road – one should keep practicing and not be diverted by thinking of them.

As your pranayama progresses, you may spontaneously enter into blissful states. These can be quite pleasant and there is always the questions whether to stop the practice and follow the bliss. It is generally better to continue the practice. The reason is that these blissful interludes are sporadic and may disappear in a month or a year as different karmic configurations come into play. The regular practice leads to Self-Realization and a continuous blissful state that is not dependent on karma.

I hope this helps to settle some of the questions in the minds of sincere practitioners. Due to the lack of personal guidance, many seekers get confused and stop practicing because they don’t know if they are doing something wrong. Spiritual progress can get delayed because of doubts and irregular discipline. Seek out a qualified guide, follow a proven system and don’t get diverted by doubts.

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