On Saturday 2nd June I hosted a Pranayama Workshop at The Yoga Den. It was a typical British summer day… cold and dreary. Inside The Den it was warm and cosy, everyone who came bringing in their own unique energy into The Yoga Den.
We started with a small talk on “Patanjali’s Eight limbs of Yoga” or eight fold path.
1. Yamas – Universal morality.
2. Niyamas – Personal morality.
3. Asana – Posture practise.
4. Pranayama – Breathing exercises.
5. Pratyahara – Control of the senses.
6. Dharana – Concentration and cultivating inner awareness.
7. Dhyana – Meditation.
8. Samadhi – Union with the Universe / Divine.
This is for dedicated Yogis. Some of these limbs / steps are about being the best person that you can possibly be, always considering others, as you wish to be treated yourself. Being gentle, truthful, not stealing, not being greedy and being happy with what you have – contented.
We then went through the science of breathing, the huge job our lungs do for us every day of our lives the surface area of the lungs is huge… larger than the surface area of our skin!
We discussed the diaphragm; how it works assisting our vital process of breathing, how when we don’t breath fully we make lots of effort (using our upper chest muscles) with very little reward, we don’t inhale as much oxygen and we don’t exhale as much carbon dioxide.
We talked about Prana as life force and “energy” and how “everything contains energy from a rock to a complex human being”. All things on the Planet pulsate with energy, sound has energy in the form of sound waves. When we chant “Om” in Yoga you can feel the vibration as you let out the sound, it starts in the throat , travels over the roof of the mouth finishing at the lips and travels around the studio as sound waves.
We practised many different types of pranayama; some calming, some energising, some cooling, some warming and some balancing but one thing they all had in common was feeling the energy coming into the physical body.
Students commented while practising Bhramari Pranayama (humming bee breath) that they felt as though their inner being was swaying softly as they practised. Was this perhaps subtle energy “Prana” flowing through the body that they could feel or was this caused by the sound vibration resonating through the mind. In the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” it states this breathing technique “help to awaken psychic sensitivity and awareness of subtle vibrations”.
When practising Sheetali Pranayama, a cooling breath that was designed to cool the physical body, it has the same effect mind cooling and calming, so good to help release stress, irritation and anger. I asked the students to imagine, as they inhaled (through a curled up tongue exhaling through the nose) that they were “drinking their breath”, the students commented in their words “they could feel the breath cool but also as if condensation was on the tongue” – as if they were getting hydrated from their breath. Again in the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” it states that this pranayama is good for “excess thirst”, how amazing that some were feeling the benefits immediately as written in the ancient texts of Yoga and as I have also felt many times over in my years of personal practise.
We practised more Pranayama; Ujjayi Pranayama (ocean sounding breath), very calming, nurturing and warming, helpful in controlling the inhalation and exhalation in full lung breathing, Kapalbhati a cleansing technique as well as a Pranayama, Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing), a balancing breath also helping to lowering high blood pressure and Sitkari another cooling breath.
What a lovely afternoon we all had… we breathed together, we shared experiences together, we shared our energy together, we learnt a lot together and we laughed a whole lot… together!
All the students really enjoyed the Workshop thank you for the feedback. I very much look forward to the next workshop at The Yoga Den, sharing my knowledge with like minded people, wonderful.
What will the next Workshop be…? keep an eye on the web site!