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bhakTi Yoga Immersion

Module 2 | Prana Yoga

bhakTi ™ Yoga Immersion Module 2 | Prana Yoga With Your Bhakta & Yoga Guide Stuart

With Your Bhakta & Yoga Guide Stuart rice

Copyright © 2008 Stuart rice •bhakTi ™ Yoga Teacher Training All rights reserved. No portion

Copyright © 2008 Stuart rice •bhakTi Yoga Teacher Training

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying without written permission of the publisher. The original purchaser is authorized to make one printed copy for personal use.

Book design by Calyx Design


Welcome to Bhakti Warrior Yoga!


Jai Hanuman!




Key Points


Understanding the Energetic Warrior


Components of Pranic anatomy




Key Points


Nadis, Chakras, Vayus


The anatomy of the Breath


The Components of Breath


The Components of a Breath


Fundamentals of Pranayama




The Practice of Pranayama


The Integrated Warrior Model




Key Points


Introduction to the Kosha Model


Root Work: Kosha Awareness


The Body of Prana (Pranamayakosha)




Key Points


The Role of the Energetic Body in Yoga


The Practice of Vinyasa




Key Points


Foundational Vinyasa Concepts


Foundations of Multi-Dimensional Vinyasa


Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 1 Welcome to Bhakti Warrior Yoga! Namaste and welcome to

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 1

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 1 Welcome to Bhakti Warrior Yoga! Namaste and welcome to Bhakti

Welcome to Bhakti Warrior Yoga!

Namaste and welcome to Bhakti Warrior Yoga!

Yoga is a system of conscious liberation. As a system, it provides distinct processes for identifying the way in which we interact with the world; the way in which those interactions affect us; and the ways to consciously control how we absorb the outcomes of those interactions.

Bhakti Warrior Yoga is a distinct and practical interpretation of classical raja yoga with a cross-cultural and cross-discipline focus. It focuses on helping individuals and teachers create a map to their best selves by balancing the five layers (pancamayakosa) of the human system. These five layers consist of the physical, energy, sensory, wisdom, and bliss bodies. The four levels of training that make up the Bhakti Warrior system introduce the tools needs to effectively work with each of these layers.

The key to all yoga is freedom, but we cannot cultivate freedom without first taking complete responsibility for all aspect of our lives. Once we have created a discipline and foundation based on tending to all four aspect of ourselves, we spontaneously arrived at freedom—freedom from disease in the body, freedom from deep swings in our emotions, freedom from attachments to unhelpful mental structures and addictions.

All spiritual traditions teach us that suffering is inevitable as the outcome of choices that do not elevate us. It is my supreme wish for all people in these workshops and in our classes that this infor- mation creates a spaciousness in which a better and more positive image of ourselves and our lives can be nurtured and grown. Thank

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you for your willingness to come on this journey of self-discovery, and then share your wisdom with others.

Many blessings on your path!

Jai Hanuman! Inspirations The Ramayana The ramayana (V.1) Thus Hanuman resolved to trace Sita to

Jai Hanuman!


Jai Hanuman! Inspirations The Ramayana The ramayana (V.1) Thus Hanuman resolved to trace Sita to her

The Ramayana

The ramayana (V.1) Thus Hanuman resolved to trace Sita to her hiding-place Through airy pathways overhead Which heavenly minstrels visited. With straining nerve and eager brows, Like some strong husband of the cows, In ready might he stood prepared For the bold task his soul has dared. O’er gem-like grass that flashed and glowed The Vánar like a lion strode. Roused by the thunder of his tread, The beasts to shady coverts fled. Tall trees he crushed or hurled aside, And every bird was terrified. Around him loveliest lilies grew,

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or hurled aside, And every bird was terrified. Around him loveliest lilies grew, Bhakti Warrior Immersion

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Pale pink, and red, and white, and blue, And tints of many a metal lent The light of varied ornament. Gandharvas, changing forms at will. And Yakshas roamed the lovely hill, And countless Serpent-Gods were seen Where flowers and grass were fresh and green. As some resplendent serpent takes His pastime in the best of lakes, So on the mountain’s woody height The Vánar wandered with delight. Then, standing on thr flowery sod, He paid his vows to saint and God. Swayambhu and the Sun he prayed, And the swift Wind to lend him aid, And Indra, sovereign of the skies, To bless his hardy enterprise. Then once again the chief addressed The Vánars from the mountain crest:

“Swift as a shaft from Ráma’s bow To Rávan’s city will I go, And if she be not there will fly And seek the lady in the sky; Or, if in heaven she be not found,

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Will hither bring the giant bound.”

He ceased; and mustering his might

Sprang downward from the mountain height,

While, shattered by each mighty limb,

The trees unrooted followed him.

The shadow on the ocean cast

By his vast form, as on he passed,

Flew like a ship before the gale

When the strong breeze has tilled the sail,

And where his course the Vánar held

The sea beneath him raged and swelled.

Then Gods and all the heavenly train

Poured flowerets down in gentle rain;

Their voices glad Gandharvas raised,

And saints in heaven the Vánar praised.

Key Points

raised, And saints in heaven the Vánar praised. Key Points T T Hanuman’s leap in the

TT Hanuman’s leap in the Ramayana represents the movement of prana from the root to the crown, reuniting the masculine and the feminine.

TT The practice of pranayama is central to the yogins ability to achieve deeper stages of practice, particularly meditation.

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understanding the energetic Warrior

The monkey warrior Hanuman is a key figure to many yogins and Hindus alike. Pictured on the front of every bhakTi teacher training manual, Hanuman represents the consumnate bhakta, or devotee. In the epic Ramayana, Hanuman becomes a follower of the ben- eficient and wise King Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu appear- ing in the world to rebalance the energies of light and darkness. Through his love of Rama, he accomplishes many impossible feats, including leaping the ocean from India to present-day Sri Lanka, carrying an entire mountain from one part of the world to another, and wrestling and subduing the demon king Ravana. For these reasons, he is worshipped and put in a position of high esteem among the Gods and Goddesses in Vedic tradition.

However, Hanuman is also a metaphor for prana. While most Westerners have heard the word prana, and many yogins use it in various contexts and ways, the exact nature or description of prana remains somewhat elusive. Prana is not just a description of the air we breathe, or the live-giving oxygen content of air. It is the electromagnetic pulse, the vibrational quality deriving from the movement of electrons at the atomic level. It is also a bridge between the instinctual qualities and aspects of human existence, and the more elevated qualities of compassion, magnanimity, and love. Through the central channel of the spine, prana awakens at the base of the spine in the form of kundalini shakti.

As we study the essence of the Energetic Warrior, we will return to the image and story of the Son of the Wind.

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 7 Components of Pranic Anatomy Inspirations The Goraksha-Paddhati The goraksha

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Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 7 Components of Pranic Anatomy Inspirations The Goraksha-Paddhati The goraksha

Components of Pranic Anatomy


Program | 7 Components of Pranic Anatomy Inspirations The Goraksha-Paddhati The goraksha Paddhati (I.13 - 40)

The Goraksha-Paddhati

The goraksha Paddhati (I.13 - 40)

1. How can those yogins succeed who do not know the six cen- ters, the sixteen props, the 300,000 channels, and the five ethers/space in their own body?

2. How can those yogins who do not know their own body as a single-columned dwelling with nine openings and five divinities (adhidaivata) be successful?

3. The prop—muladhara chakra—has four petals. The svadhishta- na has six petals. At the navel is a ten-petaled lotus, and at the heart is a twelve-petaled lotus.

4. At the throat is a sixteen-petaled lotus and between the eye- brows is a two-petaled lotus. At the crown of the head, at the great path, there is a lotus called “thousand-petaled.”

5. The prop is the first center; svadhishtana is the second. Be- tween them is the perineum named kama-rupa.

6. The four-petaled lotus is at the place of the anus. In the middle of it is said to be the “womb” praised by adepts under the name of desire.

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7. In the middle of the “womb” stands the great phallus facing backward. He who knows the disk, which is like a brightly shin- ing jewel, in its head is a knower of yoga.

8. Situated below the penis is the triangular city of fire, flashing forth like lightening bolts and resembling molten gold.

9. When in the great Yoga, in ecstasy, the yogin sees the supreme, infinite, omnipresent Light, he no longer experiences the great cycle of reincarnation.

10. The life force arises with the sound sva. The resting place of this is the svadhishthana. Thus the penis is named after this place as svadhishthana.

11. Where the “bulb” is strung on the sushumna like a jewel on a thread, that region is called the manipuraka chakra.

12. So long as the psyche roams at the great twelve-spoked heart center, which is free from merit and demerit, it cannot find Reality.

13. Below the navel and above the penis is the kanda, the womb, which is like a bird’s egg. In it the 72,000 channels originate.

14. Among these thousands of channels, seventy-two are de- scribed. Again, of these carriers of life force ten are mentioned as primary.

15. Ida and pingala, and sushumna as the third, as well as gand- hari, hasti-jihva, pusha, yashasvini,

16. alambusha, kuhu, and shankhini as the tenth are mentioned. Yogins should always understand this network (chakra) com- posed of channels.

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18. Hasti-jihva is on the right, and pusha is in the right ear, while yashasvini is in the left ear and alambhusha is in the mouth.

19. Kuhu is at the place of the penis and the shankhini at the place of the anus. Thus there are ten channels, each of which is connected with an opening.

20. Ida, pingala, and sushumna are connected to the path of life force. The three are always carriers of the life force, and are associated with moon, sun, and fire.

21. Prana, apana, samana, udana, as well as vyana are the princi- pal winds. Naga, kurma, krikala, deva-datta, and dhanam-jaya are the secondary winds.

22. Prana dwells at the heart; apana is always in the region of the anus; samana is at the location of the navel; udana is in the middle of the throat;

23. vyana pervades the body. These are the five principal vayus. The five beginning with prana and the other five vayus begin- ning with naga are well known.

24. Naga is said to be present in belching; kurma is said to rest in the opening of the eyes; kri-kara is the wind of sneezing; and yawning is deva-datta.

25. Dhanama-jaya is all-pervasive and does not even quit a corpse. These 10 winds roam in all the channels in the form of the psyche.

26. As a ball struck with a curved staff flies up, so the psyche, when struck by prana and apana, does not stand still.

27. Under the force of prana and apana the psyche moves up and down along the left and right pathways, it cannot be seen because of its mobility.

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28. Like a falcon tied with a string can be pulled back when it has taken off, so the psyche, tied by the gunas of nature can be pulled back by means of controlled prana and apana.

29. Apana pulls prana, and prana pulls apana. These two vayus are situated above and below the navel. The knower of Yoga joins both to awaken the serpent power.

Key Points

of Yoga joins both to awaken the serpent power. Key Points T T The pranic or

TT The pranic or energetic body is central to the practice of tantric yoga.

TT It is composed of the nadis, the chakras, and energetic winds that flow within them.

TT Control and cleansing of these elements is the primary goal of pranayama.

nadis, Chakras, Vayus

The nadis, chakras, and the 10 vayus comprise the pranic or en- ergetic body according to Tantric philosophy. They represent an esoteric approach to the understanding of the nervous, endocrine, and psychoemotional aspects of the body and human psyche. The flow through this system and its level of purity or clarity reflects our mood, the efficiency of our physical processes, and the subtle and intangible aspects of our “energy.”


The word nadi in Sanskrit can mean “flowing water” or a “tube.” In Ayurveda, nadi can refer to veins and arteries, or organ that is tube-like in nature. In energetic anatomy, the primary nadis are associated with the solar and lunar flows of energy in the body, as well as the central spinal channel through which the psycho- spiritual energy known as kundalini shakti rises. m

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The nadis are said to origi- nate from the zone of the pel- vic chakra, svadhishtana. They spread outwards from this zone, and originate in what is called the kanda, or bulb. This zone does not correspond to any particular place in the physical structure, although it may relate to the enteric (gastrointestinal) nervous system.

The Chakras

the enteric (gastrointestinal) nervous system. The Chakras No other aspects of the energetic system are as

No other aspects of the energetic system are as well known as the chakras. While there are many elaborations of the chakra systems by various authors and tradi- tions, the fundamentals of the chakras from the tantric tradition are fairly clear. There are seven chakras, represented by lotuses with various different petal counts. They function as indicators of spiritual progress, representing the various effects of kundalini shakti rising through the central channel of the spine.

In other areas of the manual, we will look at particular interpreta- tions of the chakras as a way to decode and understand the emo- tional landscape of the human psyche.

The Vayus

In both yogic and ayurvedic texts, all action in the body is associat- ed with the element of air, since it the most mobile of the tradition- al five elements. Thus, a key aspect of the energetic body is the 10 winds that govern the major functions of the body. These 10 winds include the 5 primary winds and 5 secondary winds; the secondary winds affect blinking, belching, sneezing, and yawning. The last wind destroys the corpse at the physical death of the corpse.

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Through the use of pranayama, the yogin learns to control all of the energetic winds. By controlling the vayus, the yogin extends his or her life, and prevents the decay of the physical body. Control of the vayus are also essential to releasing the habits of the mind.

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 13 The Anatomy of the Breath Breathing is primarily associated

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 13

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 13 The Anatomy of the Breath Breathing is primarily associated with

The Anatomy of the Breath

Breathing is primarily associated with the lungs, but the physical action of drawing in a breath requires very little effort on their part. A fascinating chain of events occurs in the brain and in the muscles of the ribcage and diaphragm to create an inhalation and an exhalation. We will look at the anatomy of a breath to better understand this process.

The Components of Breath

The act of breathing, or respiration, involves the following struc- tures of the body:

1. Nose

2. Lungs

3. Ribcage

4. Muscles

The nose

In Yoga, we generally breathe in through the nose. This is due to the nose’s extensive role in moisturizing, purifying, and warming the air prior to its entry into the lungs. Deep breathing through the nose creates the optimal humidity and cleanliness of airs before it travels into the lungs.

The nose consists of two nostrils. The nasal passage have a mu- cous membrane that keeps the nose moist. The nasolacrymal duct, which also provides tears to the eyes, helps provide the fluid that

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assists in moistening the membrane. The nose is rich with blood vessels that help to heat the air to body temperature. The hair inside the nose as well as the sinuses provide a trap for dirt and other airborne particles.

As air is drawn into the nose, pollutants are caught in the nasal hairs and sinus. The air is warmed and heated as it travels through the nose, down into the pharynx, and then into trachea, leading to the lungs.

The lungs

The human body generally contains 2 lungs, located under the rib cage. The function of the lungs is to provide a place for oxygen to move into the body the bloodstream, and for carbon dioxide to leave the bloodstream and exit the body. We experience this function every time we breath. On the inhale, we draw in oxygen rich air into the body. On the exhale, we release a combination of oxygen and carbon dioxide rich air.

Each lung receives air through a structure known as the bronchus (pl. bronchi). The bronchus branches off from the trachea (com- monly called the “wind pipe”). From here the bronchi begin to branch into secondary and tertiary bronchi. At the base of the ter- tiary bronchi are bronchioles. This continuous branching creates a tree-like structure in the lungs. At the end of each branch are alveo-

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lar, where we find the alveoli. This is where the work of breathing really begins to take place.

is where the work of breathing really begins to take place. When we breath in, air

When we breath in, air rushes into the trachea because of the low- er pressure in the lungs. From here, it moves into the bronchioles, and down into the alveoli. Blood vessels wrap around the alveoli, allowing them to exchange gases. As blood passes over the alveoli, the oxygen from the lungs moves into the blood, and blood cells release carbon dioxide into the alveoli. We then breathe out, expel- ling this carbon dioxide. There are over 300 million alveoli in the lungs, and the surface area of the lungs would be 753 square feet if laid out!

The ribcage

The ribcage is literally that: a protective sheath of ribs coming off of the thoracic spine and wrapping into the front of the body. When we eat “ribs” of any kind of meat, we are eating the meat off the bones of the ribcage of an animal. The ribcage also provides a bony structure in which the muscles of respiration can work.

The ribs are long, thin bones that are shaped in a semicircle. They start at the each vertebrae of the thoracic spine. There are 12 ribs, one for each vertebrae. The first seven are called true ribs, because they connect into the sternum through their cartilage. The eighth, ninth, and tenth ribs are called false ribs, because they do not

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connect directly to the sternum. The eleventh and twelfth ribs are called floating ribs, and do not connect to the sternum at all.

floating ribs, and do not connect to the sternum at all. The ribs do not have

The ribs do not have a large range of movement individually. How- ever, they do move apart and together to a degree due to the ac- tion of the intercostals. Their connection to the thoracic vertebrae has an important impact to they way in which we can move the spine.

The Muscles

There are three primary muscles involved in respiration: the dia- phragm, intercostals, and transverse abdominis. Working together, these muscles create movement in the lungs, mobilizes the ribs, and helps to compress the lungs during exhale.

The diaphragm is one of the most fascinating muscles in the body. It is shaped like the body of the jellyfish. Above the diaphragm are the lungs. When the diaphragm contracts, it pulls down on the tissue surrounding the lungs and creates greater room inside the thoracic cavity. This causes the lungs to fill with air. The muscle connects to the ribcage on both sides, the breastbone at the front, and lumbar vertebrae in the back. When the diaphragm relaxes, the lungs deflate and push out air.

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The intercostals are the muscles between the ribs. They are small, slender, and form two layers: the external intercostals and the in- ternal intercostals. The external intercostals help to expand the ribs, assisting on inhale; the internal intercostals help to compress the rib cage, assisting on the exhale. The intercostals also help to protect the lungs by providing a layer of muscle over the ribs.

The transverse abdominis is lowest layer of the abdominals. It wraps around the front and back of the lower trunk like a corset. When contracted, the transverse abdominis compresses the entire abdominal contents. This includes the lungs during strong exhala- tion. We use the transverse abdominis during poses to help sta- bilize the spine. When the transverse abdominis is not activated in abdominal work, the walls of the abdominals push forward. A strong exhalation often helps to draw the entire abdominal group down, increasing strength and stability.

The Components of a Breath

We know that breathing involves inhalation and exhalation, with the lungs as the primary receptacle for oxygen and carbon dioxide, respectively. The air that we breathe consists primarily of nitrogen, an inert gas that has no role in breathing. Oxygen, the second major component, is a highly flammable gas that the body uses in respiration. The combination of nitrogen and oxygen means that our air provides enough oxygen for breathing, but will not be flam- mable when exposed to open flame. There are also trace amount of other gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the air that we breathe.

When we breathe, we can breathe to different degrees of “depth:” we can take deep breaths or shallow breaths. There is also the ability to breathe in more air after a regular inhale; and the ability to exhale further after what feels like a complete exhale. Each of these aspects of a breath represents a different component of the breath. This is visually demonstrated in the graph below.

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6 5 B 4 D 3 A 2 C 1 E 0 Lung Volume
Lung Volume


The Tidal Volume

A Tidal Volume B Inspiratory Reserve C Expiratory Reserve D Vital Capacity E Residual Volume
A Tidal Volume
B Inspiratory Reserve
C Expiratory Reserve
D Vital Capacity
E Residual Volume
Normal Breathing
Deeper Breathing

When we take a normal inhale and exhale, the amount of air that we move into and out of our lungs is called the tidal volume. The practice of Yoga tends to increase our tidal volume over time.

Inspiratory reserve

After a normal inhale, we usually can inhale slightly more air. This is known as the inspiratory reserve. As the graph indicates, the inspiratory reserve can be fairly large for most of us. Practicing our yoga breathing can help reduce the inspiratory reserve by having each inhale use more of the tidal volume.

expiratory reserve

After a normal exhale, we can usually exhale slight more air. This is known as the expiratory reserve. The expiratory reserve on the graph is smaller than the inspiratory reserve. This is because we usually have a more complete exhale than inhale. Practicing our yoga breathing allows us to exhaust the expiratory reserve during our first exhale.

Vital Capacity

The vital capacity is the combination of the tidal volume, inspira- tory reserve, and expiratory reserve. It represents the total capacity for inhalation and exhalation. During daily breathing, we rarely

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use the entire vital capacity, and even during yoga practice, we ap- proach but do not reach it. During breath specific practices in Yoga, we may come close to or reach our vital capacity.

residual Volume

It is never possible to completely exhale all possible gases from the lungs. This part that remains is known as the residual volume. Residual volume is relatively constant, and a small portion of the overall volume of the lungs.

These 5 components of the breath are what we work with physi- cally in our practice of pranayama. Depending on the breath work, we may work to increase or decrease any one or more of the dimen- sions of the vital capacity.

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 20 Fundamentals of Pranayama Inspirations The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (of

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 20

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 20 Fundamentals of Pranayama Inspirations The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (of Svatmarama)

Fundamentals of Pranayama


Program | 20 Fundamentals of Pranayama Inspirations The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (of Svatmarama) II. Pranayama 1.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (of Svatmarama)

II. Pranayama

1. Posture becoming established, a Yogi, master of himself, eating salutary and moderate food, should practice pranayama, as instructed by his guru.

2. Respiration being disturbed, the mind becomes disturbed. By restraining respiration, the Yogi gets steadiness of mind.

3. So long as the (breathing) air stays in the body, it is called life. Death consists in the passing out of the (breathing) air. It is, therefore, necessary to restrain the breath.

4. The breath does not pass through the middle channel (susum- na), owing to the impurities of the nadis. How can then success be attained, and how can there be the unmani avastha.

5. When the whole system of the nadis which is full of impurities, is cleaned, then the Yogi becomes able to control the Prana.

6. Therefore, Pranayama should be performed daily with satwika buddhi (intellect free from raja and tama or activity and sloth), in order to drive out the impurities of the susumna.

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confined according to one’s ability, it should be expelled slowly through the surya (right nostril).

8. Then, drawing in the air through the surya slowly, the belly should be filled, and after performing Kumbhaka as before, it should be expelled slowly through the chandra (left nostril).

9. Inhaling thus through the one, through which it was expelled, and having restrained it there, till possible, it should be exhaled through the other, slowly and not forcibly.

10. If the air be inhaled through the left nostril, it should be ex- pelled again through the other, and filling it through the right nostril, confining it there, it should be expelled through the left nostril. By practicing in this way, through the right and the left nostrils alternately, the whole of the collection of the nadis of the yamis (practisers) becomes clean, i.e., free from impurities, after 3 months and over.

11. Kumbhakas should be performed gradually four times during day and night (i.e., morning, noon, evening and midnight), till the number of Kumbhakas for one time is 80 and for day and night together it is 320.

12. In the beginning there is perspiration, in the middle stage there is quivering, and in the last or third stage, one obtains steadi- ness; and then the breath should be made steady or motion- less.

13. The perspiration exuding from exertion of practice should be rubbed into the body (and not wiped), as by so doing the body becomes strong.

14. During the first stage of practice the food consisting of milk and ghee is wholesome. When the practice becomes estab- lished, no such restriction is necessary.

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being hasty or using too much force) it kills the practitioner himself.

16. When Pranayama, etc., are performed properly, they eradicate all diseases; but an improper practice generates diseases.

17. Hiccough, asthma, cough, pain in the head, the ears, and the eyes; these and other various kinds of diseases are generated by the disturbance of the breath.

18. The air should be expelled with proper tact and should be filled in skillfully; and when it has been kept confined properly it brings success.

19. When the nadis become free from impurities, and there appear the outward signs of success, such as lean body and glowing color, then one should feel certain of success.

20. By removing the impurities, the air can be restrained, according to one’s wish and the appetite is increased, the divine sound is awakened, and the body becomes healthy.

21. If there be excess of fat or phlegm in the body, the six kinds of kriyas (duties) should be performed first. But others, not suffer- ing from the excess of these, should not perform them.

22. The six kinds of duties are: Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Trataka, Nauti and Kapala Bhati. These are called the six actions.

23. These six kinds of actions which cleanse the body should be kept secret. They produce extraordinary attributes and are per- formed with earnestness by the best Yogis.

24. A strip of cloth, about 3 inches wide and 15 cubits long, is pushed in (swallowed), when moist with warm water, through the passage shown by the guru, and is taken out again. This is called Dhauti Karma.

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25. There is no doubt, that cough, asthma, enlargement of the spleen, leprosy, and 20 kinds of diseases born of phlegm, disap- pear by the practice of Dhauti Karma.

26. Squatting in navel deep water, and intoducing a six inches long, smooth piece of 1/2 an inch diameter pipe, open at both ends, half inside the anus; it (anus) should be drawn up (con- tracted) and then expelled. This washing is called Basti Karma.

27. By practicing this Basti Karma, colic, enlarged spleen, and dropsy, arising from the disorders of Vata (air), pitta (bile) and kapha (phlegm), are all cured.

28. By practicing Basti with water, the Dhatus, the Indriyas and the mind become calm. It gives glow and tone to the body and increases the appetite. All the disorders disappear.

29. A cord made of threads and about six inches long, should be passed through the passage of the nose and the end taken out in the mouth. This is called by adepts the Neti Karma.

30. The Neti is the cleaner of the brain and giver of divine sight. It soon destroys all the diseases of the cervical and scapular regions.

31. Being calm, one should gaze steadily at a small mark, till eyes are filled with tears. This is called Tratika by acharyas.

32. Tratika destroys the eye diseases and removes sloth, etc. It should be kept secret very carefully, like a box of jewelry.

33. Sitting on the toes with heels raised above the ground, and the palms resting on the ground, and in this bent posture the belly is moved forcibly from left to right, just as in vomiting. This is called by adepts the Nauli Karma.

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35. When inhalation and exhalation are performed very quickly, like a pair of bellows of a blacksmith, it dries up all the disor- ders from the excess of phlegm, and is known as Kapala Bhati.

36. When Pranayama is performed after getting rid of obesity born of the defects of phlegm, by the performance of the six duties, it easily brings success.

37. Some acharyas (teachers) do not advocate any other practice, being of opinion that all the impurities are dried up by the practice of Pranayama.

38. By carrying the Apana Vayu up to the throat, the food, etc., in the stomach are vomited, By degrees, the system of Nadis (Sankhini) becomes known. This is called in Hatha as Gaja Karani.

39. Brahna and other Devas were always engaged in the exercise of Pranayama, and, by means of it, got rid of the fear of death. Therefore, one should practice pranayama regularly.

40. So long as the breath is restrained in the body, so long as the mind is undisturbed, and so long as the gaze is fixed between the eyebrows, there is no fear from Death.

41. When the system of Nadis becomes clear of the impurities by properly controlling the prana, then the air, piercing the en- trance of the Susumna, enters it easily.

42. Steadiness of mind comes when the air moves freely in the middle. That is the manonmani condition, which is attained when the mind becomes calm.

43. To accomplish it, various Kumbhakas are performed by those who are expert in the methods; for, by the practice of different Kumbhakas, wonderful success is attained.

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45. At the end of Puraka, Jalandhara Bandha should be performed, and at the end of Kumbhaka, and at the beginning of Rechaka, Uddiyana Bandhas should not be performed.

46. Kumbhaka is the keeping the air confined inside. Rechaka is expelling the confined air. The instructions for Puraka, Kumb- haka and Rechaka will be found at the proper place and it should be carefully followed. By drawing up from below (Mula Bandha) and contracting the throat (Jalanddhara Bandha) and by pulling back the middle of the front portion of the body (i.e., belly), the Prana goes to the Brahma Nadi (Susumna).

47. By pulling up the Apana Vayu and by forcing the Prana Vayu down the throat, the yogi, liberated from old age, becomes young, as it were 16 years old.

48. Taking any comfortable posture and performing the âsana, the Yogi should draw in air slowly, through the right nostril.

49. Then it should be confined within, so that it fills from the nails to the tips of the hair, and let it out through the left nostril slowly.

50. This excellent Surya Bhedana cleanses the forehead (frontal si- nuses), destroys the disorders of Vata, and removes the worms, and, therefore, it should be performed again and again.

51. Having closed the opening of the Nadi (larynx), the air should be drawn in such a way that it goes touching from the throat to the chest, and making noise while passing.

52. It should be restrained, as before, and then let out through the Ida (the left nostril). This removes slesma (phlegm) in the throat and increases the appetite.

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54. Sitkari is performed by drawing in the air through the mouth, keeping the tongue between the lips. The air thus drawn in should not be expelled through the mouth. By practicing in this way, one becomes next to the God of love and beauty.

55. He is regarded adorable by the Yoginis and becomes the de- stroyer of the cycle of creation. He is not afflicted with hunger, thirst, sleep or lassitude.

56. The Satwa of his body becomes free from all disturbances. In truth, he becomes the lord of the Yogis in this world.

57. As in the above (Sitkari), the tongue to be protruded a little out of the lips, when the air is drawn in. It is kept confined, as before, and then expelled slowly through the nostrils.

58. This Sitali Kumbhaka cures colic, (enlarged) spleen, fever, disor- ders of bile, hunger, thirst, and counteracts poisons.

59. The Padma âsana consists in crossing the feet and placing them on both the thighs; it is the destroyer of all sins.

60. Binding the Padma-âsana and keeping the body straight, closing the mouth carefully, let the air be expelled through the nose.

61. It should be filled up to the lotus of the heart, by drawing it in with force, making noise and touching the throat, the chest and the head.

62. It should be expelled again and filled again and again as be- fore, just as a pair of bellows of the blacksmith is worked.

63. In the same way, the air of the body should be moved intelli- gently, filling it through Suyra when fatigue is experienced.

64. The air should be drawn in through the right nostril by pressing the thumb against the left side of the nose, so as to close the left nostril; and when filled to the full, it should be closed with

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the fourth finger (the one next to the little finger) and kept confined.

65. Having confined it properly, it should be expelled through the Ida (left nostril). This destroys Vata, pitta (bile) and phlegm and increases the digestive power ( the gastric fire).

66. It quickly awakens the Kundalini, purifies the system, gives pleasure, and is beneficial. It destroys phlegm and the impuri- ties accumulated at the entrance of the Brahma Nadi.

67. This Bhastrika should be performed plentifully, for it breaks the three knots: Brahma granthi (in the chest), Visnu granthi (in the throat), and Rudra granthi (between the eyebrows) of the body.

68. By filling the air with force, making noise like Bhringi (wasp), and expelling it slowly, making noise in the same way; this practice causes a sort of ecstasy in the minds of Yogindras.

69. Closing the passages with Jalandhar Bandha firmly at the end of Puraka, and expelling the air slowly, is called Murchha, from its causing the mind to swoon and give comfort.

70. When the belly is filled with air and the inside of the body is filled to its utmost with air, the body floats on the deepest water, like a leaf of a lotus.

71. Considering Puraka (Filling), Rechaka (expelling) and Kumhaka (confining), Pranayama is of three kinds, but considering it ac- companied by Puraka and Rechaka, and without these, it is of two kinds only, i.e., Sabita (with) and Kevala (alone).

72. Exercise in Sahita should be continued till success in Kevala is gained. This latter is simply confining the air with ease, without Rechaka and Puraka.

73. In the practice of Kevala Pranayama when it can be performed successfully without Rechaka and Puraka, then it is called Kevala Kumbhaka.

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74. There is nothing in the three worlds which may be difficult to obtain for him who is able to keep the air confined according to pleasure, by means of Kevala Kumbhaka.

75. He obtains the position of Raja Yoga undoubtedly. Kundalini awakens by Kumbhaka, and by its awakening, Susumna be- comes free from impurities.

76. No success in Raja Yoga without Hatha Yoga, and no success in Hatha Yoga without Raja Yoga. One should, therefore, practice both of these well, till complete success is gained.

77. On the completion of Kumbhaka, the mind should be given rest. By practicing in this way one is raised to the position of (succeeds in getting) Raja Yoga.

78. When the body becomes lean, the face glows with delight, Anahata-nada manifests, and eyes are clear, the body is healthy, bindu under control, and appetite increases, then one should know that the Nadis are purified and success in Hatha Yoga is approaching.

Key Points

and success in Hatha Yoga is approaching. Key Points T T As stated in both the

TT As stated in both the Yoga Sutras and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, pranayama is practiced after creating balance and purity in the body through diet and exercise (asana).

TT The primary tools of pranayama are the inhale, exhale, suspension, retention, nostril control, amplitude of the breath, and rhythm of the breath.

TT The kriyas are used as supplemental tools for deeper cleansing after asana has been perfected.

TT Control of the breath is connected to the control of the mind and the nervous.

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The Practice of Pranayama

The practice of breath lengthening, or pranayama, is the technique the bridges the gap between external (bahiranga) and internal (antaranga) practice (sadhana). The yamas, niyamas, and asana constitute the external practice. Pratyahara, dharana, and dhyana constitute the internal practice. Pranayama is the intermediate stage between the two.

Pranayama practice begins once a practitioner can sustain the comfort and attention in the seated asanas. Classically, the practi- tioner would conduct the pranayama practice separately from any physical exercises. In modern classes, pranayama can be incorpo- rated into the main flow of the class, such that different somapsy- choenergetic effects arise during the practice. For beginners, the independent practice of pranayama from asana is best, since it al- lows greater focus on appropriateness of technique and awareness of the subtle shifts in consciousness.

ujjayi Pranayama

Finding a comfortable posture. Starting by noticing the current flow of the breath. Letting the belly expand first, then the middle of the lungs, and the top of the lungs, feeling the ribcage expand. Exhaling, drawing the navel towards the spine, and letting the rib- cage draw back without collapsing the chest and rolling in the shoulders. Continuing to breathe without strain.

When comfortable, drawing your awareness to your throat. On an exhale, breathing out through the mouth as if trying to fog a mirror (a gentle “ha” sound). After a few exhalations, continuing to create the sound but keeping the mouth closed. You will feel a slight con- traction in the throat on both the inhale and exhale. Continuing with your ujjayi breath.

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Samavritti Pranayama

When comfortable, counting the length of the inhale as “1, Breath; 2, Breath; 3, Breath” and so on. At the top of the inhale, exhal- ing on the same count. Letting the exhale remain smooth as you equalize your breath. Continuing with samavritti as long as it is comfortable.

Bhastrika Pranayama

Visualize the working of a bellows: the drawing in of air as the han- dles are separated, and the strong press of air out as the handles are drawn together. Seeing the accordion-like sac, and drawing a connection between this image and our own breathing, ribcage, pelvis, and lungs. The lungs are the sac; the bottom part of the ribs, the top handle; the pelvis, the lower handle.

Begin Bellow’s Breath slowly. On your next inhale, allowing your lowest rib and your pelvis to separate from each other maximally, slightly arching the spine. On the exhale, drawing the low ribs and the pelvis closer together, abs drawing inwards, forcing out our air. Lifting and separating, inhaling; drawing together and inward, exhaling.

Kapalabhati Pranayama

When comfortable with Bellow’s Breath (Bhastrika Pranayama), move into Breath of Fire. In Breath of Fire, you will “tap” the abdo- men to forcibly expel the exhale, and release the abdomen to pas- sively inhale. Each breath will feel like a “sniff” of air; however, we want to focus our attention and energy to the navel, as opposed to the upper chest.

You’ll begin with your hands on your belly. In a samavritti pattern, you’ll feel the drawing of the navel towards the spine on the out- breath. Once you have that awareness of the belly moving in on the out-breath, and belly out on the in, begin Breath of Fire. Taking

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a deep breath in, begin to tap the navel to the spine in rapid suc- cession. Beginning slowly, ensure that you actively tap the navel back towards the spine on each breath. Speed up the breath as you are ready to.

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 32 The Integrated Warrior Model Inspirations Taittiriya Upanishad Taittiriya

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 32

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 32 The Integrated Warrior Model Inspirations Taittiriya Upanishad Taittiriya

The Integrated Warrior Model


Program | 32 The Integrated Warrior Model Inspirations Taittiriya Upanishad Taittiriya upanishad II.1.3 From that

Taittiriya Upanishad

Taittiriya upanishad II.1.3

From that very Atman (Self), which has been referred to as Brah- man, ether came into existence; from ether, air; from air, fire; from fire, water; from water, earth; from the earth, herbs; from herbs, food; and from food was born man. II.1.3

Key Points

TT The pancamayakosha are the five-fold (panca) sheaths (mayako- shaT T The pancamayakosha are the five-fold (panca) sheaths ( ). Conceptually, they are the five ). Conceptually, they are the five aspects of human beings en- veloping the atman, from gross to subtle: our body, breath/energy, mind, the Witness Consciousness, and the connection to the source (bliss).

TT In Bhakti Warrior Yoga, the pancamayakosha is the foundation for creating an integrated practice of yoga using the full spectrum of technologies available to the yoga practitioner.

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Introduction to the Kosha Model

In the vedic conception of life, the soul, or atman, is a component of the imperishable brahman, or all pervading reality. When we come into being—incarnate—the soul is wrapped in five koshas. The word kosha in Sanskrit means, among other things, a “case or covering.” These five casings obscure the soul and separate our awareness from our true nature.

Physical Body Energy Body Sensory Body Wisdom Body Bliss Body The Kosha Model and raja
Physical Body
Energy Body
Sensory Body
Wisdom Body
Bliss Body
The Kosha Model and raja Yoga

The five casings are defined in Tattiriya Upanishad as follows:

1. Annamayakosha, the body of food (anna). Annamayakosha is the physical structure of the body, arising from and sustained by food. It is connected to the five physical elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether.

2. Pranamayakosha, the body of energy (prana). Pranamayako- sha is the energetic structure of the body, arising from and sus- tained by the breath. It is connected to the five movements of prana: inward, downward, upwards, expanding, and circulating.

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the world. It is connected to the five senses: touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste; and the five actions: voice, hand, feet, elimi- nation, and reproduction.

4. Vijnanamayakosha, the body of wisdom (vijnana). Vijnana- mayakosha is the wisdom structure of the body, and forms the conscience of the individual. It is associated with the five types of intelligence: ignorant, distracted, scattered, closely attentive, and controlled.

5. Anandamayakosha, the body of bliss (ananda). Anandamaya- kosha is the bliss body, the link to the ultimate soul reality of brahman (but not brahman itself). It is associated with the five types of samadhi: gross, gross without identification, subtle, bliss, and undistinguished.

Each layer, or kosha, can be strengthened or purified through par- ticular actions and practices. The purification of each kosha allows for greater ease in the layer itself, and also in the more subtle ko- shas. We have already seen this concept at work in the Yoga Sutras and, indeed, there is a connection between the limbs of raja yoga and each of the koshas. If we look more closely we will see that:

1. Annamayakosha is purified by asana.

2. Pranamayakosha is purified by pranayama.

3. Manomayakosha is purified by pratyahara.

4. Vijnanamayakosha is purified by dharana.

5. Anandamayakosha is purified by dhyana.

We can continue the analogy by aligning the koshas with each of yamas and niyamas:

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2. Pranamayakosha is cleansed through truthfulness and through contentment.

3. Manomayakosha is cleansed through non-stealing and through austerity.

4. Vijnanamayakosha is cleansed through brahmacharya and self- study.

5. Anandamayakosha is cleansed through non-possessiveness and surrender.

Fundamentally, the practice of yoga is intended to address all lev- els of the body, and to reduce and remove the suffering in each aspect of the human condition. We clearly see from even this short discussion how thoroughly the vedic wisdom teachers conceived and laid out the dimensions of human existence.

defining the Integrated Warrior Model

The pancamayakosha model is the basis for the Integrated Warrior Model (IWM). The IWM is an open-ended structure that allows the Bhakti Warrior practitioner to identify gross and subtle imbalances in the body and apply appropriate tools and technologies to ad- dress them. As with the five koshas, the five elements of IWM are physical, energetic, mental, wisdom, and bliss. These five elements of the IWM are covered in each of the Bhakti Warrior immersion modules.

The IWM, in keeping with the spirit of the Bhakti Warrior system, is not a proscriptive model; it does not dictate how the practitioner should work on each layer, or what constitutes the “outer limits” of the practitioner’s growth. Instead, the model encourages self- exploration and experimentation with each layer. The model can also be extended to the design of group yoga classes, and indi- vidual sessions with students. When fully understood and applied in a way consistent with your teaching potential, the model can

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also be used to guide others along an evolutionary path of growth and self-improvement.

root Work: Kosha awareness

of growth and self-improvement. root Work: Kosha awareness The koshas exist both as a conceptual model

The koshas exist both as a conceptual model and as a realized aspect of the human existence. In order to build our awareness of the koshas, we can begin with the annamayakosha, the least subtle and most accessible layer of the body. This root work exer- cise with also be fairly pleasurable to do. It involves eating!

TT Choose a food you crave—an indulgent food rich in sensory value.

TT First, there is a hard part first. Prepare or purchase your favorite food and sit with it near your body. It is likely that you will begin to react in physical way. Notice your physical reaction to the presence of your craved food.

Notice your reactions to the

food on a physical level. Try to extend your awareness into your body by paying attention to things like the surface of your skin. What has physically changed now that you’ve eaten this food?

This is a challenging exercise because you will need to separate your mental satisfaction and sensory input (smell, taste, etc.) from the actual impact on your body. Even though the annamayakosha is the least subtle layer, it is amazing how little awareness most people have about their physical body. Continue to work on this exercise and see how aware you can become of the impact of this food on your body.

TT Now, slowly eat a bite of the food.

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 37 The Body of Prana (Pranamayakosha) Inspirations Tattiriya Upanishad Kundalini:

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 37

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 37 The Body of Prana (Pranamayakosha) Inspirations Tattiriya Upanishad Kundalini:

The Body of Prana (Pranamayakosha)


| 37 The Body of Prana (Pranamayakosha) Inspirations Tattiriya Upanishad Kundalini: Yoga for the West Book

Tattiriya Upanishad

Kundalini: Yoga for the West

Book of Genesis

Tattiriya upanishad II.2.2-3

Verily, besides this, which is made of the essence of food, there is the other inner Self, comprised of vital air with which this Self is filled. Really, this Self is exactly like the form of a person. That earlier Self, having taken the form of a person, accordingly this self is also the shape of a person. Of this, prana, indeed is the head, vyana is the right side, apana is the left side, space is the Self and earth is the support and foundation. There is the following verse about it.

Whatsoever gods, men or animals exist, all depend on prana for their lives. Really, prana is the vital force of all creatures; therefore, it is regarded as the universal life. Those who worship prana as Brahman surely attain the full span of life. Prana is the life of all living beings; therefore, it is called the life of all. The embodied Self of the earlier one is this one, indeed.

Kundalini: Yoga for the West p. 293

While each chakra promises the faithful and persistant aspirant certain powers, they must first be understood from one’s present

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position. It must also be recognized that it is not possible to de- velop just one chakra, in the same way that one cannot develop just one of the five senses. The senses develop together; if one develops faster or at the cost of the others, the ensuing imbalances results in many problems.

Book of genesis 2:7

And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Key Points

the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Key Points T T The breath

TT The breath is the fundamental unit of life, and has been revered as such in almost all cultures.

TT The first principle of sustaining the energetic body is the applica- tion of appropriate breathing, which is the basis of this kosha.

TT The second principle of sustaining the energetic body is the ap- plication of appropriate emotional action, which helps to maintain the energetic structure and clarity of breath and body.

The role of the energetic Body in Yoga

In the view of the Yoga tradition, the human body is more than simply flesh and bone. A subtle energy pervades the entire mac- rocosm, and therefore the entire microcosm of the human body. While we can expand the physical capacities of the human struc- ture, it is ultimately limiting. The physical form, in spite of our increasing ability to achieve greater and greater feats within in, is ultimately subject to injury, decay, and disease.

The energetic body is equally subject to injury, decay, and disease, but is not as limited as the physical form. Just as energy in the uni-

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verse as infinite potential, so does the energy in the human body. With this energy, we can conduct potentially superhuman feats.

The Tantric embrace of the energetic: Kundalini Shakti

The tantric system of yoga visualizes the cosmic power as a serpent coiled at the base of the spine. This is known as the kundalini shakti. It is considered a representation of the cosmic energy force known as mahaprana. Upon conception, the cosmic conscious- ness is converted into kundalini energy, and provides the energetic foundation for the human body.

Throughout daily life, a portion of the kundalini shakti flows throw the solar and lunar channels, pingala and ida nadi. Through the practice of specific techniques, the full force of kundalini shakti is channeled up the central space of the spine, sushumna nadi. As kundalini shakti rises through sushumna nadi it arrives as vortexes of prana known as the chakras. These vortexes act as both a re- ceptacle for the rising kundalini shakti and a barrier. As the energy enters into the vortex, it activates the full potential of the area. Like a dam, however, the chakra can also store the kundalini shakti. If the force of it is not great enough to move through the block, the kundalini shakti ebbs and flows in this space. If it is great enough, it flows to the next point.

The practice of becoming more aware of this energy is central to success in yoga. Although pranayama is the practice of lengthen- ing the breath, the science of working with the various aspects of the kundalini shakti is better known as prana vidya: knowledge of prana.

Tending to the Pranic Body: ayurveda

While Ayurveda is perhaps best known for its focus on the physical, it does not ignore the other aspects of the human body. Ayurveda also deals equally with the mind, which is one of key sources of either health or disease. Ayurveda also acknowledges the 10 vital

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breaths (i.e. the 10 vayus). However, Ayurveda does not deal ex- plicitly with the kundalini shakti or the aspects of pranayama, as these are specifically addressed by Yoga.

For Ayurveda, the pranic body is connected to vata dosha. Repre- senting the wind element and the concept of mobility, the 5 pranas are referenced as responsible for specific bodily functions. These are summarized below:

1. Udana Vata. For speech, self expression, effort, enthusiasm, strength and vitality. Located in the naval, lungs and throat.

2. Samana Vata. For the peristaltic movement of the digestive system. Located in the stomach and small intestines.

3. Prana Vata. For inhalation, perception through the senses and governs the mind. Located in the brain, head, throat, heart, respiratory organs.

4. Apana Vata. For all downward impulses (urination, elimina- tion, menstruation, sexual discharges etc.) Located between the naval and the anus.

5. Vyana Vata. For circulation, heart rhythm, locomotion. Centred in the heart and permeates through the whole body.

Western energetic Medicine: Biofield energy

One of the key areas of science that is beginning to resonate with Eastern perspectives on the body is physics, which is just coming to understand the aspects of vibrational quality of the universe. The following text comes from a scientific review of the concept of biofield energy:

It is possible that there are subtle bodies of the human being be- yond the physical body that involve realms of mind, soul, and spirit as espoused by Eastern philosophies. A full scientific model of the human being may indeed require elements that go beyond space- time, matter-energy, and require multidimensional geometry or

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 41

other novel concepts. However, this paper takes only a first step in proposing a biofield hypothesis based on known scientific concepts from bioelectromagnetics and biophysical systems theory. The bio- field is defined here as the endogenous, complex dynamic electro- magnetic (EM) field resulting from the superposition of component EM fields of the organism that is proposed to be involved in self- organization and bioregulation of the organism. The components of the biofield are the EM fields contributed by each individual oscillator or electrically charged, moving particle or ensemble of particles of the organism (ion, molecule, cell, tissue, etc.), accord- ing to principles of conventional physics. The resulting biofield may be conceived of as a very complex dynamic standing wave (Rubik, 1997b; Zhang, 1995, 1996). It has a broad spectral bandwidth, being composed of many different EM frequencies, analogous to a musical symphony with many harmonics that change over time.

The biofield hypothesis offers a unifying hypothesis to explain the interaction of objects or fields with an organism, such as are used in certain CAM interventions. All objects radiate an EM field sig- nature of resonant frequencies. If an object (such as a nutritional supplement, homeopathic, or drug) or externally applied EM field (such as that produced by a therapeutic electromagnetic device)

is brought near to or inside the body of an organism, the frequen-

cies radiated by the object (or applied EM field) would, in theory, interact with the organism’s biofield. For example, it could modify,

reinforce, destabilize, or otherwise interact with the biofield, by the principle of superposition of waves in the behavior of chaotic non- linear dynamical systems. This would be the first step in mediating

a biologic response.

Pranayamakosha in the IWM

The pranamayakosha is second layer that most practitioners want to harmonize. To harmonize this kosha, a practitioner will need to identify the following elements:

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 42

TT Breathing practices, including the identification of appropriate pranayama practices to harmonize the breath.

TT Identification of emotional imbalances, including areas of over- and under-development, and the appropriate application of chakra balancing techniques.

TT Cultivation of an awareness of the emotional anatomy of the body, and adopting mental and physical attitudes to shift this.

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 43 The Practice of Vinyasa Inspirations The Complete Book of

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 43

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 43 The Practice of Vinyasa Inspirations The Complete Book of Vinyasa

The Practice of Vinyasa


Program | 43 The Practice of Vinyasa Inspirations The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga The Complete

The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga

The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga pg. xvii

Vinyasa krama yoga is an ancient practice of physical and spiritual development. It is a systematic method to study, practice, teach, and adapt yoga. [Through t]his vinyasa krama (movement and

practitioner will experience the real joy

sequence methodology) of yoga practice.


Key Points

TT Bhakti Warrior Yoga asana classes use a blueprint that combines a functional training approach with the pratikriyasana concept of Krishnamacharya to create balanced sequences.T T

TT Multi-dimensional vinyasa begins with the concept that the body can be moved in space in multiple ways, and that use of all these dimensions is essential in a balanced yoga class.

TT More than one mat, a specially designed round mat, or no mat may be used to accommodate the multi-dimensional vinyasa flows.

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 44

Foundational Vinyasa Concepts

Immersion Program | 44 Foundational Vinyasa Concepts The word vinyasa means “to place in special way”

The word vinyasa means “to place in special way” and krama is

defined as “a course of action” or “in the proper order.” While we typically hear the word vinyasa applied to asana classes, vinyasa krama encompasses a much larger perspective. The natural flow of any system, from the macrocosmic universe to the microcosmic innerverse of the human body, is governed by specific inherent rhythms and processes that proceed in dynamic relationship to changes and fluctuations. We see these rhythms most profoundly expressed in nature, where plants and animals exist in a continu- ous and harmonious cycle of mutual influence. As Lao Tzu writes

in the Tao Te Ching regarding this natural order:

Tao gives life to all beings. Nature nourishes them. Fellow creatures shape them. Circumstances complete them.

Everything in existence respects Tao and honors nature— not by decree, but spontaneously.

Observing and being in harmony with this natural rhythm is the deepest expression of vinyasa krama. As is obvious from our own experience, however, human beings have the rare ability to con- sciously choose behaviors. This freedom of choice means that we must work to achieve a modicum of integration within ourselves, our communities, and our environment.

When we apply the philosophy of vinyasa krama to our physical practice, the qualities of our internal and external environment dictate the nature of our activity. Many or most people perform

the same physical movements for exercise regardless of the time of day, the season, the physical condition of the body, to name only

a few factors. At the initial level of practice, utilizing the same

Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 45

practice makes it easy for students to integrate the elements of the practice. However, once a practitioner has mastered an extensive vocabulary of exercise and understands how to form them into a coherent sequence, practice is ideally a spontaneous response to the condition of the body. Realistically, this level of awareness does not arise for most practitioners unless they have been taught to choose their practices out of a deep awareness of their bodies and its inherent needs.

Conceptual Models for designing Physical Practices

There are many conceptual models and rules to describe how one should design a physical practice. To ignite our thinking regarding this topic, the following is a list of concepts with short descrip- tions.

1. Preset Practices. As discussed above, the simplest form of vin- yasa practices are those that are preset. A classic example of this is the Ashtanga Vinyasa system of Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga yoga consists of six sequences of increasing complexity that are taught in a fixed manner. All Asthanga classes begin with a series of sun salutation variations, followed by a series of warm- up poses, and ending with standard sequence of backbends, inversions, and lotus pose variations. In between these is the main sequence, identified as First Series, Second Series, Third Series, and so on. Traditionally, the practice is not changed or adapted for the individual, based on the mindset that the stu- dent practices what they can, and pauses in a certain posture before moving on to the next.

2. Pratikriyasana. Prati means “in opposition to” and kriya means “action.” Pratikriyasana, which is the basis of Krishnamacha- rya later method of physical practice, involves a balancing of physical actions of asanas. At its simplest level, this means that each pose in the sequence must have a pose that creates the opposite effect (e.g. a backbend followed by forward fold).

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At a higher level of complexity, the concept of pratikriyasana is applied to the entire arc of a sequence, implying that there is an overall balance. This requires more awareness on the part of the teacher and the practitioner.

3. Rasa Vinyasas. Rasa means “juice” and also refers to the taste in food and human emotional states. Developed by Shiva Rea, rasa vinyasa provides a framework for choosing poses based on the overall physical quality of the practice. For example, “hero” practices (vira rasa) have a number of arm balances, standing poses, and other asanas that build strength and endurance in the body. “Peace” practices (shanti rasa) cultivate relaxation and internal tranquility through forward bend, hip openers, and other “meditative” asanas. In her practices, Rea combines her self-developed style with Krishnamachrya’s pratikriyasana concept.

4. Functional Classification. Andrey Lappa proposes a functional classification for asanas and by extension vinyasa. Instead of the commonly used categories such as “forward bends” or “standing poses,” Lappa proposes categories that relate to the function of the poses. His categories include: stretching asana, strengthening asanas, asana for coordination, asanas for balance, and exercise for reaction. Based on this model, the overall design of a class can be thought of in terms of this functional focus. For example, a vinyasa practice focused on strengthening would incorporate many poses for strength de- velopment, while less of the poses in other categories. Lappa further adds the ideas of dynamic and static to each category. For example, strength may be developed statically (by holding plank position) or dynamically (performing push-ups). This model is highly useful for Western students, as it can connect an asana practice to specific goals of the practitioner.

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advanced level of practice, there is no pre-planning. This form is highly useful in personal practice, but practically impossible in group classes.

The general arc of a Bhakti Warrior Vinyasa Class

Bhakti Warrior vinyasa classes embrace the functional training model with the conscious application of pratikriyasana for overall structural balancing. The goal of every vinyasa class is to touch on all components of physical development, with or without a specific focus in the individual vinyasa class.


general Bhakti Warrior vinyasa class follow a general template


order to provide the student and the teacher with a consistent

approach to achieving the goals of the class. The overall elements are:

1. Tuning-in. During tuning-in, the instructor encourages the students to connect with their bodies. Techniques and focuses such as body scanning, following the flow of the breath, notic- ing where the body feels steady or in need, etc. are ways to guide the student into the initial stage of physical awareness.

2. Breath activation through OM. All Bhakti Warrior Vinyasa classes include the invocation of Om as a unifying experi- ence for the class. Since chanting or singing also represents a spontaneous and powerful form of pranayama, it also helps to activate the breath and increase breath awareness.

3. Self-massage. Ayurveda recommends self-massage as a power- ful tool for self-awareness and healing. Students can be en- couraged to either do self-massage of the limbs, surface of the chest, and belly using a squeezing or milking action with the hand, or by tapping the limbs. Tapping involves an open hand slap moving from the proximal to distal end of a limb and back again. Tapping is a more invigorating and energizing practice, and should be used as such.

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4. Dynamic kriya. After the grounding exercises, students then are taken through a series of dynamic kriyas to awaken the body. Unlike asanas, kriyas are typically more free-form and do not have a fixed or “correct” alignment. Even though they are dynamic, these kriyas help the student to identify imbalances and sensations throughout the whole body. This information is then used as input to the rest of the practice. Several different types of dynamic kriya are possible, and many of the Bhakti Warrior kriyas are drawn from various movement systems from around the world.

5. Grounding namaskars. Once students have achieved full-body awakening and embodiment from the kriyas, this energy is infused in the body through a series of grounding namaskars, or honoring sequences. Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salute, is perhaps the most well-known namaskar, but any consistent sequence of poses or movements that cultivates a specific awareness and honors an aspect of the world or life experience can be considered a namaskar. These namaskars are rhythmic in approach, but should focus on steadying the practitioner.

6. Core cultivation. Consciously developing the musculature of trunk is a key component of Western yoga, and creates psycho- spiritual benefits as well. After grounding namaskars, students are taken through a series of exercises the strengthen and open the abdominal muscles, the lower back, chest, and upper back. Traditional sit-ups and other Western physical culture exercises can be used here in addition to, or as a substitute for, asanas and specific pranayamas and kriyas.

7. Multi-dimensional vinyasa sequences. In this segment, the instructor leads students through the main focus on the class. This may consist of one or more sequences developed by the instructor in advance or spontaneously. This sequence uses the specific functional and pratikriyasana focus described above.

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8. Pranayama. After the completion of the main vinyasa se- quences, time is taken to cultivate one or more pranayamas. At the beginning level, the basic pranayamas of nadi shod- hana (alternate nostril breathing), bhastrika (bellows breath), or kapalabhati (skull-cleaning breath, “breath of fire”) should be taught and practiced. As students become better able to perform these basic pranayamas, instructors can introduce advanced pranayamas involving combinations or more chal- lenging techniques.

9. Dharana/Shavasana. Following pranayama, students will cultivate either a practice of dharana or recline into sha- vasana. During this period, students should be encouraged to completely release both physical and mental strain and learn to rest in the body as it is. This may go on for only a few to several minutes depending on the class. As stated above, this is the most important segment of class, and must always be incorporated. When bringing students out of shavasana, the transition should be gradual and should not disturb the quality of mind and body.

10. Closing. Students who are on their backs should be brought back to seated, preferably without rolling onto their sides. Once the entire class has come to seated, the class as a whole intones a final Om, connecting the beginning and end of the class. After this, the students and instructor salute each other with a bow and the word namaste.

All Bhakti Warrior instructors should follow this general class blue- print. There is complete freedom in how the instructor conducts each segment; however, each segment should be included in every class.

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Bhakti Warrior Immersion Program | 50 This class format evolved overall several years of practice

This class format evolved overall several years of practice and study of multiple styles of yoga. In designing the blueprint, I wanted to ensure that I included asana, pranayama, chanting, and meditation. I also wanted to consistently and consciously include dynamic, free-form movement. In my time teaching, I have found that many students have lost a sense of joy in be- ing in their own bodies and trusting their movement instincts. The dynamic kriyas are intended to bring people back into this awareness, and encourage them to experience joy within them- selves. The kriyas and free-form movement are particularly valu- able for students who become frustrated by difficulty in getting into the asanas. One of my students who became a teacher told me she always includes dancing in her classes, and she notices that the less fit and capable students find it incredibly freeing and rewarding.

Foundations of Multi-dimensional Vinyasa

The yoga mat has come to define the limits of a traditional yoga practice. The standard yoga mat measures about three feet wide and can be between five and seven feet long. Most vinyasa prac- tices begin “at the top of the mat,” meaning that most of the mat is behind the student. From here, the student usually steps forward and back into various positions, as instructed by the teacher. Cer- tain advanced practitioners may incorporate gymnastic transitions (such as rolling from the back into Downward Facing Dog, a com- mon movement in Ashtanga Yoga). However, it rarely occurs to most practitioners to question the space restriction that the mat creates.

The term “multi-dimensional vinyasa” has many layers of meaning. The first meaning and the one on which we will focus for the time being is that asanas and their associated vinyasas occur in three- dimensional space. For sake of ease, we can define these three dimensions as:

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1. Forward-and-back. Characterized by moving from the “front” of the mat to the back of the mat and forward again. An exam- ple of this sequence would be stepping back from uttanasana into adho mukha svanasana and back again. This is the most common movement pattern in vinyasa classes.

2. Side-to-Side. Characterized by moving laterally on the mat. Because of limitations of the standard mat formation, most students come in to side-to-side movements by stepping back, rotating to face the “long edge” of the mat, then moving later- ally. However, this can also be achieved by stepping or jump- ing wide “off the mat” and coming into the same movement.

3. Up-and-down. Characterized by moving vertically up-or-down. This occurs in most vinyasa classes by coming from a head down to a head up position (e.g. uttanasana to tadasana). However, advanced practitioners can also achieve this through somersaults (forward or back) or using inverted positions (such as Handstand) to transit directly into head up positions.

To these three dimensions, we need to add the concept of rotation or spin. In three dimensional space, all objects can spin along its axis, or central point. As we all know, the earth rotates around its axis creating, among other things, day and night. For the human body, the central axis is the spine and our center of gravity, the imaginary line of force that keeps us fixed to earth and is integral to our sense of balance.

one dimension Practice: Basic Concept

These four elements—the three dimensions and rota- tion—are the conceptual foundation for a multi-dimen- sional practice. In order to both simplify the concept and give it a practical focus, we can speak of one, two, or three-dimension vinyasa flows. At this time, we will focus on the idea of a one dimension vinyasa flow.

of one, two, or three-dimension vinyasa flows. At this time, we will focus on the idea

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In one dimension vinyasa flow, we use one yoga mat. Within the structural limit of the mat, we have one dimension of movement— forward-and-back—with rotation. The simplest example of a one dimension vinyasa is the Sun Salutation, in which we start and end at the front of the mat, and use steps forward and back to transi- tion between the two points.

In addition to forward and back steps, we can also use rotation to change the orientation of the class. The following is a sequence that uses rotation to transition from one side in an asana sequence to another:

1. Tadasana

2. Uttanasana

3. Anjaneyasana (left foot back)

4. Prasarita Padottanasana (90° degree rotation to the left)

5. Anjaneyasana (90° degree rotation to the left)

6. Parvritta Jagghika Prasarita Padottanasana (90° degree rota- tion to the left) [literally, twisted legs spread out foot pose, where the thighs are crossed and feet are wide, hands come to the floor]

This is a simplistic sequence that utilizes 90° degree rotations to come to each pose. It is also possible to use 180° rotations from lunges to change sides in a pose. For example, in virabhadrasana II/B we can start the pose with left foot back, right foot at front; to change sides, we can simply rotate to face the back of the mat.

one dimension Practice: asana Selection

In all levels of practice, the instructor selects asana based on the functional outcome of the practice. In a one dimension practice, asana selection is also governed by the relative ease of transit from one pose to another. The general rule in this matter is that poses that share the same base can be linked together. For example, the

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base in utthita trikonasana is the feet with the legs in a spread position. Poses with a similar base include virabhadrasana I and II, utthita parsvakonasana, parsva virabhadrasana II, among others. All of these poses could be possibilities for the next pose following uttihita trikonasana.

In performing the asanas within a one dimension vinyasa practice, the only additional recommendation for new instructors is to en- sure that the sequence is balanced between the right and left sides of the body.

root Work: Constructing a one dimension Sequence

As a practical exercise, you will create a one dimension vinyasa sequence using a minimum of 10 asanas. You may begin the se- quence from any starting point. As you construct the sequence, remember to select a particular focus (strengthening, stretching, balance, etc.) so that the sequence of poses has internal consis- tency and resonance.