Mastering Pranayama - From Breathing Techniques to Kundalini Awakening

The ultimate guide for novices as well as trained teachers.

It is common knowledge that pranayama is about breathing exercises. Right? Wrong! Radhika Shah Grouven divulges some of the secret practices of the mysterious Oral Tradition to challenge this popular belief. Breathing exercises are not pranayama; they prepare you for pranayama. Prana is the life force and pranayama is done with the mind. Pranayama begins where the breath ends. With pranayama you can harness the unlimited potentials of the mind and become a balanced and creative individual.

In this book you will learn:

  • Why most of us do not breathe correctly
  • How to unlearn faulty breathing patterns
  • Why the science of sitting is so important
  • How to get conscious control over the breath
  • How to train the laser-like power of the one-pointed mind
  • How to plunge into the vibrant silence of the breathless state, rest in profound, reasonless joy and truly enjoy life

A rare book that divulges some of the secret practices of the mysterious Oral Tradition

Mastering Pranayama takes you step by step over a period of 7-8 months to advanced pranayama practices such as Sushumna Kriya, Sandhya Kriya, Kumbhaka and Yoga Nidra that lead to kundalini awakening. The practices are explained in detail with the help of over 80 illustrations and tables.The answers to some commonly posed questions at the end of each chapter foresee the difficulties of most practitioners. The tips and experiments throughout the book are fun as well as insightful. An authoritative book on the subject, Mastering Pranayama is a classic you will return to again and again: the ultimate guide for novices as well as trained teachers.

Table of Contents

Part 1: The Foundation

Chapter 1 Pranayama, the Shortcut to Immortality 

  • Meaning of Pranayama
  • Difference between Breathing Exercises and Pranayama
  • Difference between Breath and Prana
  • Breath and Mind
  • Breath and Life Span
  • What happens when the breath slows down
  • Benefits of Breathing Exercises
  • Dangers of Incorrect Breathing Exercises
  • Precautionary Measures

Chapter 2 Are you breathing right? 

  • Why is our breathing incorrect?
  • How to correct faulty breathing
  • The 7 Step Program
  • Criteria for a Natural and Optimal Respiratory Pattern
  • Are you breathing right?
  • How to train Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • Equal Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • Smooth out Irregularities of the Breath
  • Limitations
  • Jalaneti: A Cleansing Technique
  • Q&A

Chapter 3 Finding the Best Posture or the Science of Sitting

  • Postures for Pranayama: Seated and Supine
  • Five Important Criteria for a Seated Posture
  • Maitri Asana: The Friendship Pose
  • How to make a Meditation Seat
  • Vajrasana: The Thunderbolt Pose
  • Sukhasana: The Easy Pose
  • Ardha Padmasana: The Half Lotus Pose
  • Padmasana: The Lotus Pose
  • Svastikasana: The Auspicious Pose
  • Siddhasana: The Accomplished Pose
  • What is the Best Posture for me?
  • Q&A

Chapter 4 Basic Breathing Techniques

  • Order of Practice
  • The Most Important Step: Check the Base Count
  • Equal Breathing
  • Variation 1: With Counts
  • Variation 2: Without Counts
  • Rechaka or 2:1 Breathing
  • Variation 1: With Counts
  • Elongating the breath in Rechaka
  • Variation 2: Without counts
  • Kapalabhati
  • Bhastrika: The Bellows
  • Ujjayi
  • Bhramari
  • Breathing and One­pointedness
  • Purpose of Breathing Exercises and Pranayama
  • Q&A

Chapter 5 Svarodaya, the Mystical Science of Breath 

  • What is Anuloma Viloma?
  • Nadi Shodhanam: Alternate Breathing
  • How to practice Vishnu Mudra
  • Base for Nadi Shodhanam
  • How to practice Nadi Shodhanam
  • Understanding the Three Variations of Nadi Shodhanam
  • The Science of Breath and Prana
  • Breath and the Pranavadins
  • Breath, Mind and Nadis
  • Dangers of Nadi Shodhanam

Part 2: Advanced
Chapter 6 An Ancient Secret is revealed

  • The Secret to Mastering Pranayama
  • How to practice Nadi Shodhanam without Vishnu Mudra
  • Important Tips
  • Sushumna Kriya
  • Variation 1: Simple Sushumna Kriya
  • Variation 2: Sushumna Kriya with Soham
  • Variation 3: Sushumna Kriya without Pause
  • Variation 4: Sushumna Kriya with Aum
  • The Light of Sushumna
  • The Chakras
  • Bhuta Shuddhi and Sushumna Kriya
  • Q&A

Chapter 7 The Wedding of the Sun and the Moon

  • Sandhya: The Meeting of Day and Night
  • The Natural Cycles of our World
  • How to practice Sandhya Kriya
  • With external aids
  • Without external aids
  • Sukhamana: Threshold to an Unknown World
  • Inviting the Hidden to come forward
  • Sandhya Bhasha: Mystical Language of the Sages
  • Q&A

Chapter 8  Holding on to the Thread of Awareness

  • Principles of Advanced Pranayama
  • Movement to stillness
  • External to internal Multi-pointedness to one-pointedness
  • The Margas: The Three Paths
  • Dissolution Manifestation
  • The Complete Path
  • The Transitions
  • The Fourth Pranayama is Prana itself
  • Nine Factors influencing your Practice
  • Q&A

Chapter 9  The Importance of Lifestyle or How to enjoy Life 

  • Sexuality
  • Food
  • Sleep
  • Self–­Preservation
  • The Four Primitive Urges and Awareness
  • Q&A

Chapter 10 Kumbhaka, the Elusive Breathless State

  • What is Kumbhaka?
  • Bahya Kumbhaka: Suspension
  • Abhyantara Kumbhaka: Retention
  • Kevala Kumbhaka: Natural Cessation of Breath
  • Kevala Kumbhaka: The Breathless State
  • Understanding Kevala Kumbhaka
  • The Five Koshas: The Yogic Body
  • Piercing the Five Layers

Chapter 11 The Mysterious Fourth Pranayama

  • Aum Kriya
  • Variation 1: Equal Breath short
  • Variation 2: Equal Breath long
  • Variation 3: Equal Breath elongated
  • Variation 4: Equal Breath with Aum
  • Shavyatra
  • Variation 3: 61 points
  • Variation 2: 31 points
  • Variation 1: Shavasana
  • Shitalikarana
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Variation 1: Short version without preparation
  • Variation 2: Longer version with preparation
  • Yoga Nidra and Sleep
  • Yoga Nidra and the Three States of Consciousness
  • Q&A

Chapter 12 Reversal of Subtle Energy or Kundalini Awakening 

  • Nadis and Chakras
  • Manipura Chakra and Agni Sara
  • How to practice Agni Sara
  • Mastering Agni Sara: 7 Month Plan
  • Granthis or Knots
  • Rudra Granthi
  • Vishnu Granthi
  • Brahma Granthi Understanding the Granthis
  • Bandhas and the Reversal of Energy
  • Mula Bandha, the Root Lock
  • Uddiyana Bandha, the Upward Flying Lock
  • Jalandhara Bandha, the Chin Lock
  • How the Bandhas work
  • Mudras
  • Anjali Mudra
  • Jnana Mudra
  • Other Mudras
  • Awakening and Leading Kundalini
  • Q&A

13 Leading Kundalini

  • Kundalini is also called Adi Prana
  • The Wish fulfilling Genie
  • The Modern Word for Kundalini
  • Shakti: the Cosmic Breath


  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Tables
  • Useful Links
  • About the Author


Prasad from Pune India:
The book mastering Pranayama is a great book and the best i have read. I just have one query. In Nadishodhan Pranayama if we have to de repetitions of each of type 1, 2 and 3 then whether we should complete all 3 in a sequence and then go for repetition cycles or one can do repetitions of type 1 first then move to repetitions of type 2 and lastly type 3?

Radhikaji from THATfirst:
@Prasad, you have to complete all repetitions in sequence of type 1 and then move on to type 2, complete all repetitions as explained and finally move on to type 3, repeating the cycles.

German from Salt Lake City Utah:
Hi and thank you for writing this so informative book.
Now, I have a few questions.

1. where do you put the practice of Bhastrika and Kapalbhati? I mean, in what sequence do we practice them? Do we practice them before the equal breath practices and before we get to the 61 points and Yoga Nidra? Also,

2. For those of us who are doing some other practices -- like Kriyas, breathing exercises and Mudras (like Yoga Mudra, or the attitude of psychic union, Maha Vedha Mudra, or the great piercing attitude) -- what are your recommendations? Do we continue to practice them, as they are highly recommended by some gurus/practitioners? if so, what should be the order, the sequencing of these practices? ... do we just do those practices (or some of them) and then go to Anuloma Viloma, the 61 point practice, etc?

Please advise. Thanks.

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