Back to full fitness today, woke up feeling deliciously yogically infused by yesterday's work. Had a really thorough practice and headed over to Dorabjee's to replenish our stocks of pulses and nuts. When we got into the Uber it was icy cool, a welcome relief from the oppressive heat of the day. Sarah sat in the front of the car next to the very young man who was driving and said "HOT!" to which he bashfully replied "Thank you!!" while I snickered in the back.
Pranayama with Navaz this evening and Sarah and I got called up onto the platform as a result of asking a question after last week's class about the concavity of the lower back she had taught. She had taken our question to Geetaji who had clarified exactly how the back should move, see full details below. This part of the class I remember well, but many other parts I have forgotten and no note taker this eve. My best attempt at remembering some of those snippets below and I have omitted the parts that were the same as last week's class which can be seen in blog dated October 5th. Tomorrow's Women's class will be with the intensive group in hall at Vardhaman Pratishthan.
October 12th – Navaz Pranayama
Supine Ujayii 1 – 4
Same careful instruction on how to lie back as last week. Right rib to the right side, left rib to the left side. Let your throat sink down into the vertebrae of your neck. In order to quieten your brain, quieten the throat which is where language and thoughts originate from. Let your tongue recede towards its source. Feet as wide as the mat to spread the pelvic basin - this contains the digestive, excretory and reproductive organs, so feet wide to allow that basin to soften and spread. We have the bolster longways which gives the vertical extension of the body - if we had taken it horizontally behind the chest we would have got the widthways extension. So here let the breath enter evenly into the nostrils, down the windpipe and from the windpipe into the lungs from the bottom upwards to the top. Everyone’s capacity is different, and nobody knows how deep your inhalation is so don’t strain there - all bodies are different, not even the 2 sides of the same body are the same.
After the supine Sarah and I were called up onto the stage as we had asked a question after last week’s class about the concavity of the lower spine that she had taught. She instructed us how to sit on platform in front of the group so that everyone could view, as she had clarified with Geetaji the exact instructions we should be taught.
Spread right buttock bone to right side, left buttock bone to left side, spreading the perenium (area between scrotum / vagina and anal mouth).
The legs should be received back into the sockets
The sacrum should be a little concave – lift up there and make it a little concave and pubic plate upward.
From the first lumbar vertebrae (L5) do not poke forward, but release this back.
The 9th thoracic vertebrae which is behind the sternum should penetrate forward, to move sternum forward and upwards.
The trapezius, shoulder blade should move downward
If the t-shirt on the back of the body feels stretched this is wrong action. If the t-shirt on the front of the body feels stretched this is correct action. In all poses it is the back body that is the mover of the front body.
Seated Ujayii 5 – 8
We sat at the wall, leaning forwards onto the fingertips to take the tailbone back to wall. Then extending upward, tucking the shoulders down the wall at the back and widening the clavicles to take outer shoulders back to the wall. There should be no wrinkling of the forehead skin.
Jalandhara Bandha – A quick recap on the 4 methods 1) Hand on top of head bringing head down 2) Holding septum bone to bring head down 3) Index fingers rotating in ears to bring the head down 4) Bandage between clavicles - it should not be pushed into the throat, instead it should be between the clavicles.
Diaphragm firm but not hard. Controlling the velocity of the exhalation, not from the throat but from the diaphragm. Inhale with humility, exhale with a sense of complete surrender to the Lord within. The seat of the soul is not the same as the physical heart, which is slightly to one side, but it is in the centre. We never know how many breaths we have left and once they are finished they are finished and they cannot be brought back. Receive each breath as a divine gift. The prana is a gift from the cosmos and can never be forced.
During the inhalation it is the external intercostal muscles that work and during the exhalation it is the internal intercostal muscles that work – can you observe that?
After the Ujayii 8 we started to become aware of the natural pause after inhalation is complete and before exhalation begins (antara kumbhak) and after exhalation is complete, but before inhalation begins (baya kumbak.) We began to lengthen these natural pauses according to personal capacity. Antara Kumbhak to assimilate the prana. Baya Kumbhak to throw out the toxins and waste matter. A Kumbhak earthen pot that water is stored in, it keeps the water almost as cool as if it had been refrigerated. Puraka – Antara Kumbhaka – Rechaka – Baya Kumbhka is one complete cycle, but we use simple terms inhale – inhalation retention – exhale – exhalation retention, to avoid confusion.
Savasana – Bolster on thighs, rolled blanket behind the neck for senior citizens who have increased concavity there. We have spoken about how you can direct the flow of exhalation – so here direct the flow of exhalation from the hairline down the face, flowing all the way out through the soles of the feet – beginning exhalation a little more forceful to facilitate this release.