We've had an absolutely lovely couple of days in Panchagani which is a green hill station located a 2.5 hour drive away from Pune. We'd hired a car and driver from Roots and Wings and got into the air conditioned interior with a great sigh of relief, to be out of the sticky, uncomfortable heat of the day. As we steadily climbed up and up, we gradually changed from air con to at one point, actually needing the heater on! We stayed at the slightly quirky Mount View Executive Hotel, which has a swimming pool and (as the name suggests) a beautiful view of the hillside and valley below. Highlight of the trip was Kate's Point, which had a mind-bogglingly vast and open vista that none of our photographs have begun to capture.
We also visited nearby Mahalebeshwar which was in full festival mode for the culmination of the Navaratri celebrations. The main street is a delightful hodge-podge of stalls and shops, selling sandals, clothes, bags, scarves from Kashmir, spicy chickpeas, handmade wooden kitchen implements, really old fashioned amusement arcades and on and on (Kari Ann you would have loved it!).
We arrived back in Pune in plenty of time for Navaz's pranayama, where this week we looked in detail at the correct technique for digital pranayama. As we lay for savasana at the end of the class, there was a sudden increase in volume - at first I thought the fans had been turned up full blast, but it was too loud, almost like a helicopter hovering. It slowly dawned on me that it was actually hammering down with rain outside and I had that cosy feeling that you get, when you're warm and dry in your tent, listening to the rain pelt the canvas outside. Navaz didn't bother to try and compete with the noise, so a beautifully quiet time cocooned in a silent savasana.
At the end of the class, as usual Navaz invited anyone with a question to feel free to come and ask. I went up and explained I had a question, not about the mechanics of pranayama but about the emotional aspect of it. We hope when we sit for pranayama that we will be inhaling a pure, clear energy, but at times when I sit for my pranayama, instead what I am inhaling is a negative emotion, such as fear, stress, guilt, anxiety. What should be done? Her answer was that in this case, I should return to savasana until the dukha (suffering / pain) has passed.
Last day of the intensive for us tomorrow ....
19th October – Navaz Pranayama
Bolster Savasana Ujayii stages 1 – 4
Start with buttocks on the floor in front of the bolster, place hands on the floor behind, lift up and make lumbar concave and then lengthen it so that you go down vertebrae by vertebrae and you have kept great length in the lumbar. Take your hands to the buttocks – spread the right to the right side, left to the left side and move and move the buttock flesh away from the waist. Take hands around base of skull and lengthen neck so that your head rests on the two occipital bones. Arms bent, palms facing you, cut the elbows in the floor to tuck the shoulder blades under. Bottom chest and middle chest facing the ceiling, top chest rolling over towards the chin. At all times the bottom ribs should be higher than the diaphragm. Ujayii 1 Normal breath observation Ujayii 2 extended exhalation / normal inhalation, Ujayii 3 extended inhalation / normal exhalation, Ujayii 4 extended inhalation/ extended exhalation. Awareness of pause at end of inhalation and end of exhalation.
Seated Ujayii 8
Jalandhara Bandha. Extended inhalation / Extended exhalation. Spread the buttock flesh, left to left side, right to right side. As taught last week, flesh of the sacrum has to lift up to the first lumbar vertebrae, making the sacrum a little concave. Take the lumbar back towards the spine and see that you don’t push forwards there. The back ribs have to move forwards and the front ribs have to lift up. Remember the diaphragm controls the breath NOT the throat. It should be firm, but not hard or stiff. Remember prana can never be forced, so do not suck or pull the breath in forcefully, but allow it to enter so that it flows – and that smooth flow only comes about by practice. As you inhale maintain the jalandhara bandha (the head naturally wants to pop up) keep it down and only allow the inhalation to travel as far as the clavicles.
Explanation of the pranayama mudra and placement of fingers on the nostrils. Take your hand to the top of the nose and feel with your fingers sliding downwards (don’t just listen with your ears, but actually take your fingers there) now as you slide down, feel how the top of the nose is bony and then lower down the bone ends and the cartilage begins in a kind of triangular shape. That point exactly is where you are going to manipulate the nose to regulate the flow of breath.
Form the pranayama mudra, (middle and pointer) finger glued tightly to the hand, you have 3 creases in each finger, each crease should be closed. The tip of the thumb meets the tip of the ring and little finger, meaning that the ring finger has to bend slightly more, otherwise it will be longer than the little finger. Many of you are using the pads of the fingers – the tips of the fingers contain many more nerve endings and they must be used for that sensitivity.
Anuloma Pranyama (Light On Pranayama stage 1a)
Seated posture (swastikasana or virasana) Jalandhara Bandha. Right hand in pranayama mudra. Inhale both nostrils open, Bring the hand up and slide down the nose to that exact point, exerting equal pressure left and right side, exhale both nostrils partially (and equally) closed. Listen to the sound to gauge whether the breath is flowing equally left and right side. Ujayii 8 between anuloma cycles to recover.
Guruji used to give an analogy of how workers were each checked when leaving the factory to see that they were not leaving with anything they shouldn’t and then once they passed the checkpoint they were without restriction. In the same way we must observe each part of breath attentively as it passes through the nostril, one by one by one.
Pratiloma Pranayama (LOP stage 1a)
Seated posture, Jalandhara Bandha, right hand forming the pranayama mudra. Exhale preparatory,Place hand on nose, inhale with both nostrils partially (and equally) blocked. Open nostrils for exhalation. Ujayii 8 between cycles to recover.
Savasana Bolster on thighs.
Organs of action, organs of perception release. Inhale and exhale with gratitude for the gift of life. Locate spiritual heart at the centre of the chest where the divinity, the God Piece in us resides and surrender yourself completely to that Divinity.