Mindfulness Meditation & Pranayama – Yoga tells us there are subtle energies in the body (Pranas) which need to be in balance before it is possible to meditate. Pranayama (breath control) is the means to harmonise the polar forces known as Ida and Pingala. Ida is the negative energy, and Pingala is the positive force. The subtle energy flows in channels called Nadis of which it is said there are 72,000, of those Nadis there are three most important called Ida, Pingala and Shushumna.

Mindfulness Meditation & Pranayama
Mindfulness Meditation and Pranayama classes at Yoga Dharma


Shushumna Nadi runs parallel to the spinal column, and Ida and Pingala criss-crosses at vital points called Chakras. The Nadis carry Prana (subtle energy) and the Chakras distribute the energy. For this system to function effectively the energies need to be in balance, and Pranayama is the method to achieve balance.

Once the positive and negative energies are in balance, Prana will flow through the central neutral Nadi, Shushumna. When the subtle nervous energies are in balance internal mental conflicts are lessened.


The Pranayama practice of Sama Vritti, or equal breath calms the nerves by activating the Parasympathetic nervous system. The practice of Samaveta, or both nostrils together, will prepare the lungs for the more difficult breathing practice called Nadi Shodhana.

Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breath, balances out the positive and negative energies of Ida and Pingala, facilitating meditation.


According to Yoga the mind or Manas is directly affected by Prana (the Breath) so if the breath is agitated it follows the mind will be agitated. Controlling the breath controls the fluctuations of the mind (Vrittis) Yoga tells us meditation is impossible if the breath is not under control, Pranayama controls the breath (Prana) The practice of Samaveta, and eventually Nadi Shodhana includes breath retention, or holding the breath. When the breath is held, there is no Prana circulating, so there are no fluctuations in the mind.


Taking control of what the senses are perceiving is the next stage, which is called Pratyahara. We live in a world of sensory information, and it becomes hard to switch off the bombardment of information when it is time to meditate. The practice of Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) is practicing indifference to what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste. It is the memories attached to what, for example, we hear that will stop the meditation. We hear a noise, and it takes the mind to a similar example of the noise. So, the mind is now engaged with the possibilities of what the noise might mean, and this creates mental images and physical responses. Acting with indifference to what the senses are perceiving will diffuse the process.


Taking control of our emotional attachments to memories that are triggered through sense stimulus, allows the meditator to hold the mind steady. This is called Dharana which is the ability to begin to hold the mind steady. The ability to hold the mind steady leads to Dhyana, or what is called meditation. Dhyana is the ability to hold the mind steady for extended periods of time, without it being diverted to another thought.

In the stage of Dhyana, the meditator is unaware of the external world, and is only aware of the object of meditation.


Mindfulness Meditation & Pranayama classes use authentic Tantric and Sutric methods. Our classes are suitable for all levels and are totally inclusive. Many of our students have been practicing with us for 15 or more years and will happily share their experiences.

Martin Thompson

pocket yoga teacher A1 for print