You can practice ordinary Pranayam exercises without the help of a Guru. There is no
danger in practicing Pranayam, Asan, etc., if you are careful, if you use your common-sense.
People are unnecessarily alarmed. There is danger in everything if you are careless. If you are
careless in getting down the steps of a staircase, you will fall down and break your legs. If you
are careless when you walk in the busy parts of a city, you will be crushed by the motor-cars. If
you are careless when you purchase a ticket at the railway station, you will lose your moneypurse.
If you are careless in dispensing mixtures, you will kill the patients by giving a poison or
a wrong medicine or by administering a medicine in over-doses. Even so, when you practice
Pranayam, you will have to be careful about your diet. You should avoid over-loading, you
should take light, easily digestible and nutritious food. You should be moderate in copulation.
You should not go beyond your capacity in retaining the breath. You should first practice
inhalation and exhalation only (without retention of breath) for one or two months. You should
gradually increase the ratio from 1:4:2 to 16:64:32. You should exhale very very slowly. If these
rules are observed, there is no danger at all in the practice of Pranayam.
A Guru is necessary if you want to practice Kumbhak or retention of breath for a long
time and unite Apana with Prana. The books written by realized Yogins can guide you if you are
not able to get a Guru. But it is better to have a Guru by your side. Or you can get the lessons
from him and practice them at home. You can keep regular correspondence with him. You can
retain the breath from 1/2 to 1 or 2 minutes without any difficulty or danger. If you cannot get a
realized Yogi, you can approach senior students of Yoga. They also can help you.
From "May I answer that" by Swami Sivananda (1987-1963). More Informations on Swami Sivananda: on the Website of Divine Life Society, Photographs of Swami Sivananda, German Pages on Swami Sivananda

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  • Certainly for advandced pranayam one needs a Guru or Competent instructor. There are guidlines for pranayam in Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda's books. These instructions are the Guru. Intense pranayam may only be suitable for a sincere and dedicated yoga practitioner. Any questions on has regarding pranayam can be answered by sincere devotion and dedication to ones Guru, Deity, God etc.
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