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October 5th - Navaz Pranayama

Getting hotter again and I opted to practice inside under the ceiling fans. Spent the morning battling with bhekasana - we will need to show the full pose with both hands on the feet turned, holding for 1 minute. We can both do this, but need to generate more lift in the chest so that the diaphragm isn't squashed (making breathing difficult) and because if you lift more, you get better purchase to press the feet down. We tried all sorts of things, including making a shoulder harness which was tied to the railings around the terrace, to scoop the chest up. Don't think we'll be getting any Nobel Prizes just yet - definitely a work in progress and if anyone has any top tips, get in touch!

Pranayama this evening with Navaz - as ever crystal clear and calm - and we all headed home with that internal pranic glow. Having spent the morning looking at Sarah's seated posture and trying to correct ribs pushed forward, lumbar concave, we were disconcerted to find Navaz teaching the opposite. Lift of buttock flesh up, lower back slightly concave and a movement forward and upward of the bottom rib (it should not drop inside) (Are you reading this Jess Wallwork, Susan Vassar!!)

Arrrgh! Full details below and thanks to Wendy for sharing her notes.

October 5th – Navaz Pranayama

Swastikasana Invocation to Patanjali and Guru – take a second bolster if knees are higher than hips. Ascend trunk upward. Use fingers to manually lift the base of the sternum up and insert thumbs into armpits and use the fingers to manually lift the side chest upward.

Bolster Savasana – Begin sitting in front of the bolster with legs bent. Use your hands on the floor to lift the chest and extend over the bolster so that you come down vertebrae by vertebrae. Use your hands to separate the buttocks away from the centre AND away from the back waist. Take your head in your hands and lengthen your neck to place your head down so that you rest on the two occipital bones. Extend your legs one at a time. Bend your arms and bring your elbows close to the body with the palms facing your face, tuck your shoulder blades under and widen your clavicles, keeping your hands in this position and release the forearms to the floor with thumb side down. Relaxation in brain is dependent on placement of body so breath enters evenly up the nostrils, down windpipe and into the lungs from the bottom to the top. Take right rib to right, left rib to left to spread ribs and lift the sternum so that chest is higher than diaphragm. Make space for the prana to enter. Take feet and arms as wide as mat.

Start the process of release from the brain / skull region. Make space in the mouth so lips are slightly apart, jaws are slightly apart and tongue is always resting in the lower palette. Widen corners of the mouth so that you leave space for throat to release down to the back of the neck. Bottom sternum to middle sternum, middle sternum to top sternum and top sternum widening to chin. Relax organs of action, organs of perception quieten. Observe rhythm of breath.

Ujayii 2 Supine lengthen exhalation and continue until all the breath is expelled from the lungs. Allow exhalation to penetrate abdominal area. Quieten bones, joints, ligaments, blood vessels.

Ujayii 3 Supine inhalation Increase duration and timing and volume of inhalation. Guruji used to say just as a farmer tills the soil to aerate the earth, so we have to aerate the lungs with prana. Front brain to back brain, back brain to base of skull. Witness your breath, where are you reaching?

Ujayii 4 Supine inhalation and exhalation of even length. 5 cycles on your own. Notice top of inhalation – that slight pause is antara kumbhaka, pause at end of exhalation is baya kumbhaka.

Open eyes, gaze at fixed point on ceiling, just roll over, left hand to the floor.

Practice exhalations on warm days and inhalations during cooler times. Here she spoke more about kumbhak – which is a pot kept by the door in Indian household. Antara kumbhak, the pot is full, baya kumbhak the pot is empty.

Demonstration of sitting properly, looking at helper from behind. Don't sit rigidly like a tin soldier. Guruji did not have 'abs' or bulging biceps. If you were lucky enough to witness his practice, you would have seen that he was as soft as butter. Prasant will often say, sit on the ball points of your buttock bones. How do you get onto the ball points of your buttock bones? Lift the right buttock up and spread it to the right side, lift the left buttock and spread it to the left side. Extend from the anus to the scrotum / vagina. We should not drop down with the buttocks, this skin has to lift up and the lower back a little concave. You can catch underneath the bolster behind to descend the trapezius downward. At front of body, the bottom ribs should not collapse downward / inward but they have to lift and spread to create an opening for the prana to travel through.

Jalandhara Bandha she showed a few different methods. Those who have the crepe bandage welcome to use it. 1) Put hand on the top of the head to take the skull down 2) Take septum bone between the thumb and forefinger and use that to draw down 3) Insert index fingers into ear and rotate the fingers inside the ear to roll the head forward. The inhalation is limited, it is confined to the chest, but the exhalation can be directed anywhere to soften an area. So if we are in pain, we can direct the exhalation to that area to soften and release.

Ujayii 5 Observing breath seated. Each inhalation with sense of humility, each exhalation an act of surrender.