Pranayama is the Hub of Yoga

This amazing embodiment! This chariot that carries us through life! The body, the breath, the brain. How intimately connected, one cannot effect any part without impacting the whole.

Pranayama Course at IYILA, 3 weeks beginning in November. Tuesdays and Thursdays 7:15 – 8:30. Nov 6, 8, 13, 15, 27, 29

When I lie down in Savasana, I first feel my body release, a sense of heaviness as the weight of the body succumbs to gravity. Next, I begin to feel a rise and fall of the breath, and a gradual change in the rhythm of the breath. I might now become aware of the ricocheting triggers in my brain, thoughts like ping pong balls jumping back and forth. This part of the triad pesters my tranquility. When I ask my brain to quiet down,I realize that I have little control, at first. Return to the sensations in the body, yielding of muscular effort, the felt sense of the breath and the rhythm of the breath.

We now know that anything that we observe changes through the mere act of observation. When we lie down in Savasana, this transformation begins. We wait, watch, and witness the gradual change from an external orientation with the self to a deeply intimate connection with Self, sans the “identity” that we use in our daily interactions. It takes time for the mercurial brain to shift, to let go, to allow itself to be harnessed to the breath, and thus, to consciousness.

If you look at the breath in the form of the respiratory system, it is physical. But when the action of the breath on the mind is studied and understood, it becomes spiritual. Pranayama is the bridge between the physical and the spiritual. Hence, pranayama is the hub of yoga. -Tree of Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar

The true fruit of yoga is not a material achievement or performance. Yogis never measure the intake of oxygen. That is not what they are interested in. The yogi’s interest is to keep the head and the heart clean through the harmony of breath, and this is achieved through the practice of pranayama. ibid.

There is an ongoing discussion in the yoga community on whether yoga in the west has become a commodity. Whatever form of yoga one practices, if it brings some kind of peace, then it has been true to its roots. The health and healing aspects of yoga are well documented and accepted. However, the deeper transformative aspects of a consistent practice of yoga can only be gauged through personal experience over a long period of consistent practice.

Pranayama is the bridge between the external and internal experiences, just as we inhale and exhale. We are so accustomed to taking in, to imbibing sights, sounds, tastes,  that we become addicted and “hungry” for more. This is the animal nature of desire. But the other side is to let go, to let the stimulation drop away. Emptiness is an enigma for most of us as  we equate it with a lack of some “thing”. The experience of letting go of the hungry instinctual animal mind to avail oneself of the possibility of a deep tranquility that predisposes one to a new, less known of being may seem scary, even petrifying. It is the unknown. Yet this is the path of a true seeker.

Join us for a course in letting go and tuning in to witness how you are and how you might be. These six sessions are appropriate for those who are new to the pranayama practice as well as for those of you who practice regularly. I will be recording the sessions and will make them available to participants to help reinforce a personal practice.

For more information, please visit the IYILA website.

Visit my podcasts page to listen to the sessions so you can practice on your own.

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