In an era when sweating is considered a sign of a good practice!

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Dr Kausthub Desikachar.  

Hathayogapradipika Jyotsnayuta 11.12

kaniyasi bhavet svedah kampo bhavati madhyame

uttame stanamapnoti tato vayum nibandhayet. 

Kaniyasi = in inferior practice/in initial stages

Bhavet = generates

Svedah = sweat

Kampah =shiver

Bhavati = manifests

Madhyame = in the intermediate practice

Uttame = in the best practice

Sthanam = the place

Apnoti = attains

tatah = therefore

Vayum = the air

Nibandhayet = one should restrain.

 “In the initial stage, sweat is generated, and in the intermediary stage, there is trembling (throughout the body) in the highest stage the breath reached the (central) place (the Brahmarandhra.) Therefore (one) should restrain the breath.”

 The signs of lower, intermediate and higher stages of Pranyama are described.  Lower Pranayama causes sweating or excessive perspiration. The pranayama’s inferiority is inferred by the sweating.

 The intermediary (stage of) Pranayama causes trembling through the body. Therefore the intermediary stage of pranayama can be inferred by trembling. In the highest practice of pranayama one attains the place (known as) Brahmarandhra. The highest stage of Pranayama is inferred by (Prana) reaching that (highest) place. The Yogin then becomes motionless, meaning beyond change, and therefore beyond time.  Therefore one should control the breath by all means.

 Brahmarandhra = (cave of Brahma) the Brahmarandhra is considered to be an opening in the crown of the head through which the spirit is said to depart from the body at death. It is also considered to be the seat of our limitless potential.Perspiration happens in the initial stags because when a person begins the practice of breath regulation, his or her breathing will usually be short and not subtle enough.  The Yogin-s attributed this to resistance to the movement of prana through the nadi-s. This is due to the fact that, at this stage of practice, the nadi-s are usually far from being clean, and hence has many blockages, resulting in tense muscles and short breath. So it makes sense that sweat and perspiration will be the result when attempting to lengthen the breath it is is still short and heavy.  And normally when our breath is short and heavy, we tend to perspire more.

Also pranayama influences the relaxation and contraction of muscles. So when there is an effort to extend the breath beyond its usual capacity, initially the muscles also have to work harder than they are normally used to, resulting in perspiration.

 It is important to reflect that the author and commentator call this stage the inferior stage, meaning there are better possibilities ahead. In an era when sweating is considered a sign of a good workout, this message brings some food for thought.  The yogin-s believed that when the whole body, in all its holistic dimensions, is in good harmony and health, we can practice without sweating. The body is so efficient that it feels as if no effort is required at all. That is the highest state of health. 

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