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Yoga Bites: Prayer

By Smt Smrithi Adi­narayanan

Once Mul­la Nas­rud­din went to a shop. He asked the shop­keep­er, “Do you have nails?”

The shop keep­er said, “Yes”.

The Mul­la asked, “Do you have nee­dles?”

The shop­keep­er said “Yes”.

The Mul­la asked, “Do you have a piece of leather?”

The shop­keep­er said “Yes”.

Then the Mul­la said, “Then why don’t you make your­self a pair of shoes?”. Super­fi­cial­ly this might seem to be yet anoth­er stu­pid sto­ry about Mul­la. A deep­er thought reveals that we are all like the shop­keep­er. We have a won­der­ful body, a pow­er­ful mind and excel­lent peo­ple around us. What are we wait­ing for? Why don’t we make our­selves a pair of shoes?

This arti­cle will high­light the pow­er of prayer and the Aumkara pranaya­ma (breath­ing exer­cise).

The Pow­er of Prayer

Our par­ents have made their best of efforts in mak­ing us learn a few prayers. But we have dropped the prac­tice as we grew up. This is a nor­mal thing that hap­pens. Some enlight­ened peo­ple amongst us have tru­ly tran­scend­ed the need for prayers 😉 but most of us have dropped it due to igno­rance. It is advis­able to start any prac­tice (even yoga asana) with a small prayer. A prayer, of your choice, turns the mind from dis­trac­tions and pre­pares it for a focused prac­tice. It focus­es all your ener­gy on one sin­gle pos­i­tive aspect. Your mind is freed from oth­er unwant­ed thoughts.

The pow­er of prayer is due to the pow­er of inten­tion. Let’s say you want to move your lit­tle fin­ger. How are you able to do it? You intend to move it and your brain starts pro­duc­ing the required chem­i­cals so that the motor nerves to the lit­tle fin­ger can get acti­vat­ed and your lit­tle fin­ger moves. It’s amaz­ing, isn’t it?! The same pow­er of inten­tion can be applied to all the things in life, how­ev­er com­plex they be! Of course, depend­ing on the com­plex­i­ty of the intend­ed thing and your capa­bil­i­ty the things you intend will take dif­fer­ent time-frames to be man­i­fest­ed.

That’s the rea­son why in most mature tra­di­tions prayer is pre­fixed and suf­fixed to any task. Start­ing a task with prayer focus­es your inten­tion on its suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion. End­ing a job with prayer is to be done with a feel­ing of grat­i­tude. Grat­i­tude in advance shows the most effec­tive be-do-have men­tal­i­ty. Peo­ple these days gen­er­al­ly have a have-do-be men­tal­i­ty. For exam­ple, let’s say you want to be hap­py. Nor­mal­ly you imag­ine that if you had in your phys­i­cal pres­ence a car then you would be able to do some­thing you always want­ed to do and in con­se­quence be hap­py. This is the least effec­tive way to be hap­py (remem­ber noth­ing is right or wrong; it is just what works and what does­n’t). Instead, if you have a be-do-have men­tal­i­ty then you would just BE hap­py and DO the things that you need to do to HAVE a car. Kabir right­ly point­ed out

“Kabeer man nir­mal bhayo jaise Gan­ga neer

Peech­hey peech­hey Hari phirey kahat Kabeer Kabeer”

Which means,”My mind has become as pure as the waters of the Gan­ga, hence now the Lord fol­lows me chant­i­ng my name!”

So please make it a point to start any prac­tice with a small prayer.

Aumkara Pranaya­ma

AUM is divid­ed into 3 syl­la­bles AA, OO and MM.

Sit in a com­fort­able cross legged pos­ture. Close your eyes. Observe your breath for few min­utes.

Now take a deep breath (inhale), now while exhal­ing say AA with­out paus­ing. Con­tin­ue till you can no more exhale and the sound dimin­ish­es.

Repeat this for 3 times.

Now take a deep breath (inhale), now while exhal­ing say OO (oo as in the word ‘root’) with­out paus­ing. Con­tin­ue till you can no more exhale and the sound dimin­ish­es. Repeat this for 3 times.

Now take a deep breath (inhale), now while exhal­ing say MM (a hum­ming sound) with­out paus­ing. Con­tin­ue till you can no more exhale and the sound dimin­ish­es. Repeat this for 3 times.

Now take a deep breath (inhale), now while exhal­ing say AA OO MM togeth­er with­out paus­ing so that you start with AA and end with MM.

Con­tin­ue till you can no more exhale and the sound dimin­ish­es. Repeat this for 3 times.

Ben­e­fits: Your body becomes more sen­si­tive as you keen­ly observe the vibra­tions caused as a result of Aumkara chant­i­ng. Also, any blocks in the ear, nose or throat are cleared as a result of chant­i­ng. These are just small ben­e­fits which can be com­mu­ni­cat­ed. The rest is for one to expe­ri­ence.

Con­di­tions: This pranaya­ma can be done at the begin­ning of any prac­tice for focus­ing the mind. Also do it aloud. Do not reduce the vol­ume just because you might dis­turb oth­ers. It is okay if oth­ers are dis­turbed.

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