Now, you should be familiar with the right and comfortable posture, observation of your breath and closing your eyes lightly. This stage is called initial stage of meditation. You will also be familiar with a part or parts of your body, where you feel some vibration. With a good practice, you will be observing some sort of vibration between the two eye brows. You may refer to my posting on the third eye on February 17, 2009. But this may not be necessary at this point of time. Just continue to observe it for a moment and then ignore it. What we should learn at this point is some breathing and stretching exercises. These exercises should be done both before and after meditation. For attaining a good meditative stage, the prana inside our body should move freely. If there are obstructions to the free moment of prana, tension will develop in and around the area. Secondly, you should always keep your body loose and without any tension or stiffness. Breathing and stretching exercises help us to keep our body fit for the easy moment of prana.

Presently you are practicing only normal and slow breathing, without holding your breath. In the next stage, you have to hold your breath. Inhale counting up to 5, hold the breath counting up to 5 and exhale counting up to 10. If you are not able to hold your breath for 5 seconds, do not bother. However, ensure that you exhale very slowly. Normally, inhale – hold – exhale should be in the ratio of 1- 1- 2 and then gradually increased to 1-2-2. Please do not go beyond this 1-2-2 level without the help of a yoga master. For our purpose 1-1-2 is sufficient or at the most you can try 1-2-2. What does this ratio mean? If you inhale counting 5, hold counting 5 and exhale counting 10. This is 1 -1- 2 ratio. You can increase this to 10 – 10 – 20 and so on. Your inhalation count and holding should be the same and exhalation count would be twice the count of inhalation or holding. This ratio is called 1 – 1 – 2. In the case of 1 - 2 – 2, holding and exhalation counts would be twice the count of inhalation. Depending upon your capacity, practice this breathing exercise at least ten times daily before meditation. You can increase the duration to 20, 30 and so on as long as you feel comfortable. This breathing exercise should be practiced with both the nostrils and not by closing and opening alternate nostrils. This means inhale through both the nostrils, your stomach bloats, hold the breath and your stomach remains bloated and exhale by pulling your stomach towards you.

In the next stage, while you inhale push your head slightly behind, your stomach gets bloated. Hold your breath with your head bent backwards and stomach remains bloated. Exhale by slowly bring your head close to your chest and your chin close to your chest, and simultaneously pulling your stomach towards you. Please do not forcefully attempt to touch your chest with your chin. If you apply force, you will develop serious neck and shoulder problems. Do this breathing 10 times to begin with, and gradually increase. Please do not forget to practice the earlier breathing exercise along with this. Inhale and exhale fast. When you inhale your stomach bloats and when you exhale you pull back your stomach. Inhale and exhale should be fast and deep and there is no holding of breath here. Practice this regularly along with the other two exercises. These breathing exercises will enable your prana move freely and drive away any impure air in your lungs. We will look into some stretching exercises combined with breathing in the next posting.