The five Essentials
Five things are necessary for practising Pranayama. First a good place; second, a suitable time; third, moderate, substantial, light and nutritious food; fourth, patient and persistent practice with zeal, ease and earnestness, and lastly, the purification of Nadis (Nadi-Suddhi). When the Nadis are purified the aspirant enters the first stage in the practice of Yoga-'Arambha'. A Pranayama practitioner has a good appetite, good digestion, cheerfulness, courage, strength, vigour, a high standard of vitality and a handsome appearance. The Yogi should take his food at a time when Surya Nadi or Pingala is working, i.e., when the breath flows through the right nostril, because Pingala is heating and digests the food quickly. Pranayama should not be practised just after taking meals, nor when one is very hungry. Gradually one should be able to retain the breath for 3 Ghatikas (one hour and a half) at a time. Through this, the yogi gets many psychic powers. When anyone wants to stop the breath for a long period, he should remain by the side of a Yogi Guru, who knows the practice of Pranayama thoroughly. The breath can be suspended by graduated practice from one to three minutes without the help of anybody. Suspension for three minutes is quite sufficient for purifying the Nadis and steadying the mind and for the purpose of good health.