Day 12 Navaz Pranayama
Woke up in great spirits and enjoyed some singing while getting ready for the day. Last day of restricted practice and my energy is beginning to pick up. I often find I practice pranayama more naturally and spontaneously during resting poses such as setu bandha with a bolster and I spent a long time quietly there. Sushila arrived today looking pale and tired and explained she had a headache yesterday and had had to see the Doctor for an injection (She speaks no English and we have very little Marathi so this was all mimed). It was obvious to see that she was not herself and we made sure to give her a little money to buy medicine which she tried to refuse so we had to say it was baksheesh (tip) and she accepted it. More than giving her money I wanted her to know that we were aware and were wishing her well.
Life is settling into a pleasant rhythm of morning practice and lunch followed by walk to Marriott for work and swim and then back for evening class. We had Navaz once again for Pranayama, this time focussing on Bhramari (full sequence below). Once the hall was full and we were all settled to begin, I got the uncomfortable weak and shakey feeling that signals the onset of an attack of hypoglaecemia. This means I need to get some fast acting sugar into my system quickly so that I don’t become unconscious – in 21 years of being type 1 diabetic I have never been unconscious or unable to help myself and this is a record I am very keen to maintain. The trouble was, I was going to have to get up right at the quiet part of preparing for pranayama and pick my way through the sea of bodies seated silently mat to mat, right the way to the back of the room to the shelves and then locate my small rucksack in the packed baggage racks and Please God Pray that I had remembered my Lucozade - as the sugar drains from your system, you increasingly lose coordination both in body and in speech – glucose is the main fuel for the brain and without enough of it, you become a bit like a very slow and stupid bull in a china shop. I made it to the back of the room, located the bag and the lucozade (so far so good) and just as I was knocking it back quietly in the corner I was spotted by Navaz who shot out “Who is that drinking water over there?” Luckily I was able to answer and she understood and accepted my response without fuss.
The class took a similar path and pace to last weeks, with many of the same explanations given and we were soon buzzing away like a huge cloud of bees around the honeysuckle. Friday 12th January – Navaz Pranayama
• Seated with sufficient height under the buttocks so that your knees should not be higher than your pelvic bones. She asked a few people to sit higher and one gentleman was told he was sliding forward on his supports and he should sit in the centre. Sit on the points of the buttock bones. Cup your palms (swastikasana) or hands to the feet (virasana) in order to get the length of the side trunk and lift of the chest. Spread your clavicles. Take your hands to the base of the sternum bone and manually lift up and open the space there and then take your thumbs into the armpits and use your fingers to lift up the base of the rib cage so that the back lower rib releases down. A dropped chest is a sign of negativity, depression and low self- esteem so lift and open there. Join your hands in Atman Jali Mudra .
• Supine Ujayii 4 – Guruji famously said “Crooked body, crooked mind” See that your mat is straight, your bolster is straight and your body and head are straight. Same instructions given as for last week to lay over the bolster (See Friday 5th Jan) Firstly we have to soften the area of the apana vayu, this is the lower abdominal region and governs the expelling of urine / stools / semen. That area has to soften and release. Just above this area is the samana vayu which governs digestion, here also we must soften and spread. The bottom ribs have to open to make a kind of inverted V shape and this and the softening of the areas below, make a pathway for the prana to follow. Use the exhalation to expel the toxins from the body – physical, mental and emotional.
• Seated Ujayii 8 Jalandhara Bhanda (the 4 methods for this explained 5th January). Slow, soft deeper inhalation, slow soft lengthened exhalation – no kumbhak. • Seated Bhramari – Best time to practice this is at night when you have insomnia as it’s very useful for inducing sleep. No jalandara bhanda, keep the eyes at eye level. Slow soft inhalation, no khumbhak (retention) at all. As soon as the inhalation is complete the Bhramari exhalation should begin. The vibration, the sound has to be at the front of the throat – never the back or you will experience choking. Sometimes Guruji would play around and the vibration could be at the top or sides of the throat, but never at the back. Normal cycles to recover. She led the first couple of cycles and then we did 5 more in our own time.
• Seated Bhramari with san mukhi mudra (crepe bandage wrapped around the forehead and eyes an alternative to san mukhi mudra). Thumbs either inside the ears, or if some problem for the ears, they can simply press the flaps of skin that partially cover the opening inward to seal the noise outside. Index finger and middle finger taking the area just below the brow and the eyelid down over the eye. Ring finger either side of the base of the nose – a little bit of pressure there, but don’t cut off the breath flow. Little finger below the nostrils so that you can feel the flow of the breath as it is expelled from the nose. She led us through the first cycle or two and then we did 5 more on our own.
• Supine Bhramari with san mukhi mudra. Easier to keep the arms / hands in san mukhi mudra without getting quickly fatigued.
• Savasana – exhalation a little forceful, like a waterfall from the hairline down and see how this quiets the brain. This leads you on a journey to find the seat of yourself ‘The God Particle’. Don’t mistake breath for prana – prana is cosmic energy and is a gift of life. Surrender yourself completely on the exhalation.