The Purpose of Pranayama, Kumbhaka and the Nine Step Bottled Wind Practice for Meditation
Most people get a little confused about meditation and on the purpose of pranayama and kumbhaka breath retention exercises, and the 9-step bottled wind practice introduced by the femal Buddha Vajrayogini (Also known as Vajravarahi, or the Diamond Sow Buddha) in Tibet. Pranayama and kumbhaka practices have a specific purpose on the cultivation trail involving chi (prana) and your chi channels.
When you want to cultivate, you want to reach samadhi. You cannot reach samadhi unless your chi mai all open and your chi enters the central channel of sushumna. So, many pranayama methods have the purpose of helping you clear your chi channels so that you can enter into samadhi.
It's not that the pranayana exercises OPEN the chi channels, but they help you open up all sorts of veins, arteries and capillaries, which is why I tell people to use nattokinase and detoxification herbs such as Nature's Pure Body Whole Body Program. When you cultivate breath retention exercises, called kumbhaka, you also end up pushing poisons out of the body so that it's easier for your own chi, when you cultivate emptiness, to arise and then push through and open up the chi mai (acupuncture meridians). Why? It just works that way.
When one practices meditation really well (not yoga or breath retention really well but MEDITATION really well in conjunction with those yoga activities), a sweet tasting liquid will descend from from the pituitary glands -- some say from the laya chakra in the head. Around this time, one will find that they don't need their nose for breathing but their coarse breath will stop naturally. That's because they will start to fill with chi, or prana, and they're chi mai are opening so their breathing is becoming more efficient. It's just physics.
Now here's the point. You can get to this stage by forcing a person to practice the bottled chi breath retention exercises of yoga (pranayama) and the self-shutting breath of Taoism or the 9-bottled wind practice of Tibet ALONG with emptiness meditation. Essentially they are all the same thing -- breath retention exercises. Ultimately, by practicing these you will develop a stronger resistance to the cold, heat, and humidity. You will also need less to eat at this stage because you're starting to fill with chi ("you won't think of eating" -- old Tao school saying) and can fast easily. You'll also start to need less sleep. However, at this stage you need instructions from a wise master about eating and drinking in appropriate ways so as not to lose this stage.
Gradually you'll develop a new type of samadhi. It's still an initial step into samadhi (a step up, but still not the real thing). It's an entry point into real samadhi but you're not yet there. At most the breathing exercises can help open up the left and right ida and pingala chi channels, but they are not enough to open up the sushumna central chi channel for the prana to enter and for you to reach samadhi. For that you need emptiness meditation and merit.
You'll still need food to maintain the inner force to open up the chi channels of the genital glands and eight extra meridians of the body. As to how to adjust your eating at this stage, it's like cooking a pot of rice--make the heat too strong and the rice burns, too little and it never boils. It needs the wise guidance of a master at this stage just to help you get through it if you're not wise enough yourself.
Moderation is the best of all rules and the book, Tao and Longevity, guides you through this stage. If you're smart and have merit you'll adjust things accordingly -- not to much and not too little without losing sexual energies. Then you'll pass onto the next stage of practice.
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