Chapter 3: Healing and Other Applications of 54 Swara Yoga
Chapter 4: Overview of Swara Yoga 69
I AM INDEBTED to Baba Kailash Giri of Chaudhry Talab Temple, Bareilly, for introducing me to the wisdom of Swara Yoga. I thank Baba Santosh Dass and Baba Dwarika Dass, whose company gave me a clearer perspective on this science. Without good company—satsang—true understanding is impossible; it brings positive feedback, impetus, and the inspiration required to make progress in any branch of learning. Shyam Lai, the cobbler, Pandey Jo, Premji, and all my friends who practice Swara Yoga deserve thanks. In their company I was able to verify my tests of Swara Yoga while in India during 1965 and 1966.
As well I am grateful to Dr. Philip Epstein who helped me understand the relationship of Swara Yoga to neuro-biology and neurochemistry. Dr. James Daley deserves special appreciation for introducing me to the Western vision of this yogic science. He was kind enough to provide me with a brain wave analyzer during my research in Oakland in 1972.1 would also like to thank Dr. Shannahoff-Khalsa for his contribution to better mental health through an understanding of the relationship between the nostrils and the hemispheres of the brain.
Finally, I thank all my friends and students who have applied the knowledge of Swara Yoga and have made use of the Prana Calendar since I published the first edition in 1974. Carmen Carrero and Heidi Rauhut also deserve thanks for preparing the typed manuscript from my hand-written pages.
Uttar Pradesh March, 1989
BREATH IS the physical counterpart of the mind. The mind uses the cerebral cortex of the brain, the twin hemispheres, as its tool. These two hemispheres coordinate with the entire organism through neujromotor responses. All neuromotor activities, all sensory and motor functions of the body, are performed with the help of the breath. So breath is mind in action! Breath provides the pranic force to the organism. This pranic force, working as the Air element, creates movement, pulsation, vibration, and life. The word "spirit" comes from the Latin word spiritus, which literally means breath.
Mind and consciousness are abstract terms—whereas breath is a physiological reality. The study of consciousness begins with the study of the true science of breathing. Breath induces movement. Breathin'g itself is a neuromotor activity. The science of controlling prana is known as pranayama, a branch of Hatha Yoga. The term Yoga, which literally means union, refers to a discipline, a way of evolving the higher faculties of mind. There are many paths in Yoga, but in essence they all have one goal—the union of the self with God. On the physical level, this means the union of the lower brain with the upper brain. Man's faculties of abstract thinking and his aspirations for the higher ideals of life (seated in the cerebral cortex) often conflict with his instinctive, animal nature (seated in the lower brain). Through Yoga, man can learn to master his lower brain and pursue higher ideals, to act in accord with the law of universal good. While his animalistic nature makes man hedonistic and selfish, yogic training makes him selfless.
All yogic disciplines clearly state that a direct relationship exists between prana and mind and that by controlling or mastering prana one can master the mind. According to Yoga Kundalyupanishad, the breathing process creates images in the mind; by controlling the breathing process through pranayama, the breath becomes calm, images do not disturb the mind, and the internal dialogue stops. According to Dr. David Shan-nahoff-Khalsa of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, "The nose is an instrument for altering cortical activity." (See Figure 1.) Stop the prana and mental modifications will stop, and the yogi will be able to establish himself in bliss (samadhi). Prana refers not only to the flow of oxygen into the organism but to all components of life force. Prana is the vital life fdrce that sustains all living organisms. Pranic energy is available in negative ions, oxygen, ozone, and solar radiation, but for human beings its main source is the breath.
Swara Yoga is the science of nasal breath. It has rightly been called the "ancient technology of mind."1 Not apart of Hatha Yoga or other yogas, the science of Swara Yoga deals with the relationship between the nasal breath and the subtle nerves of the body, on the one hand, and the cycles of the Moon and the elements, on the other. It studies the nasal cycles—the nature of the breath flowing with the right and left nostrils. The teachings of Swara Yoga allow us to synchronize our breath, our life, with the universal rhythm of the Moon. This alignment removes the effort and strain from our daily activities and brings good fortune.
The founders of Swara Yoga were not familiar with the cerebral hemispheres, but they did work with the principle of bipolarity: the right side of the body being the masculine, solar principle, or Shiva, and the left being the feminine, lunar principle, or Shakti. Reaching into the depths of human behavior, they were able to ascertain which activities were best suited for right nasal dominance, and which for left. By observing the direct effect of the moon on the breath, they discovered the sacred science of right living. This book offers methods for determining right/left nostril dominance and for synchronizing the dominant nostril with specific activities of everyday life.
Figure 1. Posterior view of the hemispheres of the brain and their relationship to the respiratory system. Breath coming in through the right nostril cools the right hemisphere of the brain, causing the left hemisphere to become active. Breath coming in through the left nostril has the opposite effect.
The implication of this technology is that we are not helpless victims of a given emotional state. 'If you want to alter an unwanted state,' says Dr. Shannahoff-Khalsa, 'just breathe through the more congested nostril.' "2 By altering the flow of nasal breath, the body chemistry gradually changes, and unwanted emotional and physiological states slowly disappear.
Swara Yoga can teach human beings the precise way of living peacefully, as masters of their own mind and body; it can enable them to become true instruments of Consciousness. This book gives the reader a key for "self-tuning the body/mind with the body/mind itself as the tuning instrument."3
The Science of Swara Yoga
OUR HUMAN ORGANISM works through a specialized network of channels known to physical science as nerves, veins, and arteries. Those conduits that enable us to act and react to our environment are known as nerves. We will use the term nadi to refer to the subtle nerves of the body. The autoriomic nervous system runs the inner machinery of the organism via the sympathic and parasympathetic branches. All nerves and nadis form a network around each cell, fiber, tissue, bone, etc., to keep the organism conscious of its environment and itself. As long as the flow of energy in each nadi and nerve is working in proper rhythmic order in a particular area, life exists. When the nadis are blocked, the organ connected with them becomes lifeless, and as a result the organism develops many diseases.
Our internal organs function much like a factory, producing energy that gets converted into consciousness.
The cerebral cortex receives neuromotor signals from the internal organs in the form of electrical impulses which are then interpreted and converted into consciousness. These neuromotor signals themselves take the form of electromagnetic and electrochemical energy. The "manufacturing" process continues as long as one is breathing, except during yogic breathing when the process is sustained in the absence of ordinary breathing. When breath stops altogether the organism dies. Breath is the very key to life. It connects the organism with consciousness, matter with mind. Its presence is life and absence, death.
Breath is prana, but the breathing process itself is a neuromotor action since inhalation and exhalation are done with the help of the nerves. This action is produced by the pulsation of life. Action is needed for all cell division. According to Indian philosophy, this action exists in the very seed of the organism as a function of the Wind element. Pulsation, contraction, expansion, and breathing are actions inherent to the sperm and ovum. It is this inherent throbbing or pulsation that sustains the organism before its first breath occurs. Even when the nostrils are not operative and the lungs are dormant, amniotic fluid, charged with pranic ions from the mother, flows into the lungs and through the umbilical cord; thus prana functions inside the womb. After fertilization, growth starts; the pranic force needed for this growth is provided inside the womb where the organism is perfectly sealed and nourished by the fluids of life. After birth, the first thing that regulates all bodily activity is breath—the expansion of the lungs and opening of the nostrils. The lungs begin to operate with the first cry of the baby. This is the starting point of individual life, and of the nasal cycle.