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RE: Breathing Exercises (Maxim)

Jul 02, 1996 05:50 PM
by Jim Meier

On 01 July, Maxim wrote,
>I am going to advocate here a perspective on breathing exercises that may 
>be called strictly orthodox. 
>Jim, _all_ eight parts of Patanjali's raja yoga are practical, so pranayama 
>does not come first as a practice. Restraints and observances (yama and 
>niyama, purification of the mind and heart) are to be practiced, too, to 
>achieve practical, not just theoretical purity of life.

Of course.  But Pranayama is where so many want to *start* practical
application, after reading Theosophical texts.  Books have been written
about harmlessness -- and a pretty good argument can be made for
harmlessness as not only the first step on the Path, but for 90+% of the
Path -- and yet it is much easier to get people to try a breathing exercise
or a new meditation form than to practice restraint in the way we interact
with others.  That's all I meant.

>In the context of theosophy, the science of prana is very important (see 
>e.g. Rama Prasad's "The Nature's Finer Forces"). On the other hand, one 
>may notice that elaborated breathing exercises are condemned as harmful 
>in all the primary sources that may be broadly called the theosophical 
>tradition: H.P.B. (e.g. "From the Caves and Jungles of Hindustan"), Alice 
>Bailey ("A Treatise on Cosmic Fire" and "The Light of the Soul"--a 
>translation and interpretation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras), and Agni Yoga 

It's interesting that you used the phrase "science of prana", since a
science implies something which can be studied, with self-consistent rules
and laws governing behavior.  Which describes Pranayama pretty well, but
still leaves us with the question of "when is it appropriate to study these
things, and how do we go about it?"  You seem to take an extreme approach to
this in the following:

>>I certainly wouldn't
>> recommend anyone to start serious breathing exercises without personal
>> instruction from someone experienced. 
>I wouldn't recommend anyone to start ANY serious breathing exercises, 
>whether under the expert supervision or without it.  

Why so adamant?  I thought one of the "core teachings of Theosophy" is that
there exist people who are not amateurs at this sort of thing?


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