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Location, Rhythm and Timing

There are a great many varieties of breath control.

"According to location, timing and rhythm, external, internal and 'stupefied' breathing are either deep (dirgha) or light (sukshma)." (Yoga Darshana 2, 50.)

That location is called "inner" when the breath travels from the navel through the chest and throat up to the interior of the nose; that location is called "outer" to which the air is expelled or from which it is drawn in, and which extends sixteen finger-breadths beyond the tip of the nose.

The seeker who draws in his breath down to the navel should feel, when breathing out, that he expels it for a distance of sixteen finger-breadths. When drawing in his breath to the heart only, he should expel it for twelve finger-breadths only. If he draws in the breath to the throat, he should expel it for eight finger-breadths, and if he draws it in only as far as the back of the nose, the breath should be expelled four finger-breadths only.

The longer breaths are called deep (dirgha) and the shorter ones light (sukshma).

Timing and rhythm are intimately connected. The counts of the syllable AUM used to measure the relative duration of the in- and out-breathings and Chalices are called the "numbering" (sankhya) or "time units" (matra).

The actual duration of the rhythm is its timing (kala) which can be expressed in seconds. The same rhythms are often practiced in double, quadruple, etc., timings.

Commenting on Yoga Darshana II, 50, Vacaspati gives the average unit of measure as "the time necessary for stroking the knee three times with a circular movement and then snapping the finger once (i.e. one and a half second)."

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