Pranayama is a Sanskrit word meaning “extension of the prana or breath” or more accurately, “extension of the life force”. The word is composed of two Sanskrit words: “Prāna”, life force or vital energy; and “āyāma”, to extend, draw out, restrain, or control.

Pranayama is the fourth limb of both Hatha Yoga & Raja Yoga, and one of the most critical elements of any yoga students practice. It serves as an important bridge between the outward practices of yoga (like asanas) and the internal practices that lead us into meditation and samadhi. While both the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe the practice, it can be difficult to fully understand and apply just by reading.

Learning first hand from a teacher is the best way to learn this subtle yet powerful practice. The goal of this workshop is to leave students with a complete understanding of what Pranayama is, why we should do it, and how we should do it. It is suitable for both beginners and experienced yoga students.

Schedule:
8:00 – 8:45am: Shatkarmas (Internal Cleansings)
8:45 – 10:15 Asanas & Meditation
10:15 – 10:30: Break
10:30 – 11:00 Benefits of Pranayama
11:00 – 12:00: Pranayama Techniques
11:00 – 11:15: Break
11:15 – 12:00: Incorporating Pranayama into your life
12:00– 1:00: Q&A

Cost: $35 suggested donation. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. YSA is a 501(c)3 organization, and donations are deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Questions? Email YogSadhanAshramUSA@gmail.com or Call 630-293-9554.

Registration: Please mail form & donation to: Yog Sadhan Ashram, 28W100 St. Charles Rd., West Chicago, IL 60185

 

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This past weekend over 20 students participated in a workshop on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. In addition to learning the great wisdom contained in this yogic scripture, everyone also had the opportunity to learn and practice asanas as well as cleansing techniques, like neti and vaman. Pranayama, mudras, and bandhas, practices less commonly practiced in the U.S., were also discussed and practiced.

Above all, students walked away knowing more about the true purpose of Hatha Yoga, which is preparation for higher consciousness. While yoga is commonly thought to be a practice for the body, we wee reminded that  we are not merely seaking the freedom from diseaeses but the freedom from the bondage and the waverings of the mind.

The scripture proved to be full of information, and we will likely be studying it in even more depth during Sunday philosophy classes in the future. Stay tuned!

Several readers have asked, what really is prana? Prana is the energy permeating the universe at all levels, including physical, mental, intellectual, spiritual, and cosmic energy. While it is hidden, in that the common person cannot hear, touch or feel it, the yogi knows that it is actually the mover of all activity. Both creation and destruction are made possible with prana.

While prana certainly is the power behind creation and destruction, its real power is how it sustains our body. Without it, the body and mind cannot function. Therefore pranayama, often mistaken for merely breathing exercises, is actually a series of techniques developed to enhance the prana in our body which leads to greater vigor and vitality. Prana flows through our nadis, or energy channels, and it is through the use of breath that we are able to influence it.

Knowing this, it may be difficult to distinguish prana and aatma. The Prashna Upanishad clarifies the two when one disciple asks what is “prana and how it is related to aatma?” The Rishi replies, “Prana is same to the aatma as a shadow is to the body.” In other words, they are not the same but move together.

In the next article about Pranayama, we will discuss the nadis.

Pranayama is the science of breath control. It is a subject worth studying due to the effect breath has on our five koshas (sheaths), including the pranamaya kosha (vital energy sheath). For example, the quality of our breath can change due to our mental and physical states, but how we breath can also affect our mental and physical states. The Yogic scriptures thus give great importance to pranayama, and it’s mastery is considered a prequisite to dharna (concentration) and dhyana (meditation). We will explore it in a series of articles over the next several months.

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