Posts Tagged ‘pranayama’

Pranayama Reflection

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Sometimes from the depths of my body a great wind comes and lifts my breath with ease, and every cell begins to multiply and hum and I feel as if bloated by the divine that hides within. And just like when you’ve eaten too much, any exacerbated movement throws the whole plot into the compost. It can be such an effortless experience as fragile as the waterford crystal my grandmother collects.
My practice has become like this: my grandmother asks me to dust and clean her precious crystal wares, and so with great love and appreciation I spend the rest of my life completing this task to ensure that I learn to use the right amount of care. Now the challenge has become – with so much work ahead of me, where do I start? I can become so easily overwhelmed, throwing caution to the wind. However, the more I pass through this, the more clear the veil appears. And in due time, thanks to my grandmother’s love, this veil becomes the cloth I use to dry my finished work.
By Chris Hamel

Chris Hamel is a much loved frequent contributor of poetry and prose to the Karuna blog. He is also a great teacher, student and friend within the Karuna community. Hopeful we will continue to hear more of his insights into practice as he embarks on his next journey this fall. Stay tuned!

Richard Rosen Workshop Thursday 2/7-Friday 2/8

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Richard Rosen is joining us next Thursday and Friday to teach a Pranayama workshop at Karuna!

Here are a few videos to inspire you to join us in this practice.

Pranayama 101 with Richard Rosen from Naada Yoga on Vimeo.

Reflections on practice: Ujjayi, Viloma and Brahmari Breath

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

As part of the last 200 hour Teacher Training at Karuna students were asked to reflect on their experience of three different methods of pranayama: Ujjayi, Viloma and Brahmari. Aurora Sjostrom shared these reflections

My Pranayama experience recently has been profound. I have enjoyed Ujjayi for quite some time now- the sound of the breath like waves of the ocean. It is supremely soothing, but sometimes so soothing that sleep creeps in. At bedtime this can be really nice, but in class not so much. I have found Ujjayi is a good tool to pull out of my pocket during the day when I need to take a moment to calm down. Villoma has profound effects- I can really feel the energy grow with the inhale in segments. My mind feels much more alert. In contrast, exhaling in segments (especially 3 parts) is so calming- I feel my heart settle, my eyes soften. The feeling I get when I get into the groove with Villoma on the inhale and the exhale, each parcel being equal in space and softness, each sip of air equal to the others- it is supremely beautiful and I feel like I could go on forever. Sometimes, however, my mind is too busy to handle Villoma, but when its good its so good! My experience with Brahmari has changed so much. I remember Eileen once saying shre tried to find the OM in the sound of a chainsaw- the OM in Brahmari is so beautiful. I start slow, quiet. Each breath becomes longer than the last, the sound louder, the reverberations deeper. I pull the air in and feel myself expand in space, I exhale and sound engulfs my being. I can find a kind of quiet that is so unique- I find myself feeling out of place when I return to normal breath- like the world is somehow less real. I very recently had a moment in Savasana that was a completely new experience. Upon being instructed to do so I placed one hand on my belly and the other on my heart, and I breathed into the space under my hands. After a few breaths I found a warm light growing in my chest, filling my experience with a kind of loving and softness I had never found. The softness of this moment stays with me. I found my heart, my tiny atman, and I held it in my hands and smiled. I was there for a moment, and eventually we were instructed to roll to our sides and come up to sitting. I thought ‘No- I want to stay in this warmth forever now that I know it is here’ but I rolled over anyway. I sat up slowly and with my eyes closed bowed my head to my pressed palms, and I could have wept for all the sweetness in the world.

A Letter From a Student

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Dear Karuna,

Two years I was read the riot act from my doctor when I went for my annual check-up. Body was creaky, blood pressure, which had always been high normal since my early 20’s, was now high (150/105), my cholesterol numbers were not good but not terrible, and I was about 40 pounds overweight. After promising the doctor to be better, I spent a year getting worse, putting on another 10 pounds or so, and starting to look and feel like my elderly father.  Around 4 months ago on my birthday I made a resolution to eat moderately better and start pranayama, restorative and gentle yoga classes 2X weekly at Karuna on advice of a friend who is also a student at Karuna. A couple of weeks ago I went back to the doctor feeling better than I had felt in years. And the reports were amazing. My weight is down by 25 pounds and my cholesterol numbers are normal (simple dietary changes has a lot to do with this), but the other improvements are definitely the yoga. Amazingly, in just 4 months I have reclaimed a quarter inch back on my height (I still have another quarter inch to go), and most exciting, my blood pressure is spot-on normal by statistic (120/80, and that was on a high stress morning), and personally better than it has been since my teen years when I was super athlete.  Most important for me, I feel at least a decade younger, and I have really only just started. Can’t wait to see how things are after a year.

Chris Marano

Chris is the founder of Clearpath Herbals:

Pranayama: Removing the Veil, Sutra 2.52

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Inspired by the Pranayama Sutra below translated by B.K.S. Iyengar:

Sutra 2.52: Tatah kisyate prakasavaranam

Pranayama removes the veil covering the light of knowledge and heralds the dawn of wisdom.

Its practice destroys illusion, consisting of ignorance, desire, and delusion which obscure the intelligence; and allows the inner light of wisdom to shine.  As the breeze disperses the clouds that cover the sun, pranayama wafts away the clouds that hide the light of intelligence.

In the Yoga Chudamani Upanisad it is said that there is no discipline higher than pranayama.  It is called an exhalted knowledge (mahavidya), a royal road to well-being, freedom and bliss.

Kerry Doyle, Yoga Advanced Teacher Trainee

I think pranayama practice is really a practice about being intimate with yourself and with the essence of life.  I often begin the practice and am aware of a lot of tension or holdings and it takes working through each breath to disentangle.   Each inhalation teaches me about being receptive to life and each exhalation about letting go, letting go, letting go.  In one of the sutra commentaries in Edwin’s book, he talks about the yogi needing to be as sensitive as an eyeball.  I find this is really true in pranayama – the subtle shifts are hugely profound.  Our culture often focuses on working harder to achieve more – or that more is better.  In pranayama it’s an interesting practice to find that to draw in a deep inhalation comes from staying relaxed, slowing down – not gulping and not forcing.   In my practice sometimes I just have such simple intentions – can I take just one breath without tensing the throat?  Or can I inhale and keep the eyes soft?  What surprises me is how very difficult this can be for me to do and at the same time what a deep effect it has when I can just follow such simple intentions for even one breathe.   The pranayama practice gets right to the energy body – sort of strips it all down and digs right in.  In meditation, an instruction I’ve often been taught is to work with dropping the storyline and returning to the energy body/the sensations.  Pranayama practice puts me directly in touch with the sensations of the body – it skips that step of putting up the obstacle of the storyline – and puts me directly in touch with the raw experience.  When I can experience life in that way, it feels more possible to let life flow through me and around me without trying to hold onto it or push it away.

Sutra 2.52 –  Then, the covering of the illumination [of knowledge] is weakened.

Edwin begins his commentary stating, “Prakasa, illumination… a synonym for sattva.  The covering of illumination, prakasa-avarana, says Vyasa, is ultimately karma, and this is destroyed by the practice of pranayama.”

It strikes me as how remarkably difficult it is to do such a basic thing as inhaling and exhaling without adding something more to it.  And what an important life lesson – it’s the very foundation for taking the self/the ego out of all of our actions. Karma is accumulated when we mistake our thoughts, actions, feelings for the self.  Pranayama gives me a tool for learning how to loosen that grip of the ego on such a fundamental act of life as breathing – and from that a glimpse into what is possible in the rest of life.  When I practice I feel held by some greater force, aware of a union to something bigger than my small sense of self.  Pranayama helps dissolve the concept of a separate self by putting me in touch with that connection – and what’s incredible is how this can happen in just one breathe!