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Day 22 - Abhijata Advanced Class - Pranayama

As I awoke this morning I realised it was Wednesday and we would be moving into Pranayama week. Oh yeah! I'm notoriously bad at remembering anything about Pranayama classes as the remembering part of my brain tends to be switched off, but luckily Cath C took notes which she shared for me to expand on and share with you.

Abhi gave various techniques to bring the breath to the forefront and to quieten and pacify the mind. I particularly enjoyed the learning in Chair Sarvangasana with the shins belted tightly together. When we practice Chair Sarvangasana back home (certainly in the UK) we tend to go for the softer version where the feet rest against the wall and you don't have to deal with the discomfort of the calves pressing into the back rest of the chair. However this is a slightly different pose - because the legs don't go as far back, it has a different effect - so perhaps it is time to get out of your comfort zone and try Chair Sarvangasana as it is often taught in Pune, in the centre of the room, to experience the teaching from this particular class.

We had to envisage that as a snake coils around it’s prey, we entwined the muscle to the bone, constricting the legs and making them absolutely firm. It really refined the separate 'compartments' of the body. Armpit chest came forwards away from the arms, shoulder rotation improved, sternum chest spread and opened, breath deepened.

Next we took legs vertical to Viparita Karani and exhaled to draw the pit of the legs and groins down towards the chair, then retaining this action on the inhalation. It really noticeably expanded the chest and the breath came up in a deep V. The abdomen became a vast, wide softly dipping plateau with an indescribable softness that is unique to Viprita Karani. We then took the legs to back of chair, exhaling thighs towards the feet and lengthening abdomen away from legs. We had to exhale as if the legs were entirely wrapped in bandages - mummified - and observe the change to the inhalation - it lengthened and deepened and became more 'all-encompassing'.

Finally we relaxed the arms over the head (We stayed like this for a minute or so). Then used our hands to manually lengthen back of skull away from neck, holding the hands there for some time. As the Jalandha Bandha deepened, I felt that my brain was so quiet almost as if it were an entirely separate entity, not involved with the body at all. This profound quietness as a result of making the brain genuinely submissive allowed the great expanse of the heart and breath to be experienced.