Normal Breathing (Lying Down)
Lie on one or two blankets folded vertically. Place another folded blanket under the head and neck (SEE FIGURE 19-1). Close the eyes and soften them. Relax the facial muscles, jaw, tongue, upper palate, and ears. Lie in Savasana for several minutes until you feel relaxed.
FIGURE 19-1: Pranayama lying down, with support
Observe your breath, noticing the rise and fall of the chest and belly upon inhalation and on exhalation. Note the natural rhythm of your breath, the length of your inhalation, exhalation, and the pauses in between. Slowly allow the breath to become smooth and even, so the length of the inhalation and exhalation are of similar length and volume.
Feel the mind start to slow down, as the breath gradually deepens. Remain conscious and awake. Continue this exercise for five minutes. Then let the breath return to normal and rest in Savasana a few minutes.
You can also place a rolled blanket under the knees to ease the lower back, put an eye bag over the eyes to aid in pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), or step the blankets if you're pregnant.
The benefits of pranayama lying down include the following:
It teaches observation of the breath.
It relaxes the mind.
It is important to exhale completely before beginning a breathing cycle and to end it on the inhalation. As a beginner, two to three pranayama breaths, followed by three normal breaths, and then two to three additional pranayama breaths is recommended. This prevents overexertion and fatigue.