In a rather surprising twist, with the day 257 meditation begins an instructional segment to the meditations. Gates is going to guide us through the simple pranayama exercises he teaches to beginning students in his own classes.
The first should be somewhat familiar to Bikramites. It's the title of this post - Long inhale, pause, long exhale, pause. Gates recommends doing it as a warm - up to practice. Again, no surprise for Bikramites. He also suggests doing it lying down. No funky chicken with the elbows, no engaged thighs, no sucked in stomach, no neck movements. So it's a bit different.
I was going to try this as a warm-up to the class today, but got into the studio too late. The cool thing is that you can do this just about anywhere. I've been focusing on it some while driving. And also while in bed watching TV. It's a fun thing to do, and it seems to slow things down, and make it easier to focus.
The other point that Gates makes is that the benefits of pranayama are not esoteric. I've noticed this in my singing. Breath control has gone a long long ways just from doing the Bikram exercises. And I expect I'll notice something similar if I ever get back to riding my bike.
There's a teacher at our studio named Steve. He teaches only the 6am classes, so I've never had a class with him. He also is a rolfing practitioner. And he works from time to time with another friend of mine. My friend was talking to him about pranayama, and he recommended doing this same exercise that Gates described. He said the thing to work on is the length of each segment. Start by trying for four or five seconds on each part: thus, a single round of breath would take somewhere from 16 to 25 seconds. My friend asked him how long he is doing it for, and if I remember correctly, I think he said that he was doing 37 seconds for each part. Yup, thats a 37 second inhale, a 37 second pause, a 37 second exhale, and then a 37 second pause. A 10 breath set of that would take almost 25 minutes!!! There's clearly something to work on here.