SweatyYaya is a blog created to help Yoga St. Louis Intro students with building a home practice. SweatyYaya is a memorable mispronunciation of the Sanskrit word: svadhyaya. Svadhyaya is the practice of self-study and is one of the niyamas (observances) presented in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.


This blog is for information only and should not be considered medical advice of any kind.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Tuesday 6.30p Intro — Week 5 (December 1, 2009)

Focus: Opening the armpit chest. Intelligizing the body with the breath.

Note new poses for this week are in bold face.

Discussion: What is Prana?
Prana is energy, the life force. It is the Seer that permeates all forms of matter. The breath is the instrument of prana. [See Monday 6.30p Asana I — Week 9 (April 27, 2009) for details.]

1. Invocation in Swastikasana
a. “Sit straight, back erect. Lift your spine upward. Adjust your seat properly. Shoulders rolling back. Trapezius rolling back. Lift the sternum chest upward. Fold the palms in front of your chest and close your eyes completely. Look within. Remain silent.

b. “Quieten the brain cells. Release them from the inner walls of the skull. When the spine is ascending upward, let the brain remain quiet. The ascendance of the trunk should not disturb either the head or the brain. First, keep the head straight, with the sides of the neck well balanced, eyes deeper in. Ear drums going deeper inside. The tongue resting on the lower palate. The head has to be on such a level that it can pull the whole body upward.... Since the brain sends the message to the body, allow the body to get the freedom to ascend that much upward.

c. “But at the same time, the brain must remain quiet. Relax the jaw. Relax the tongue. Keep both eyelids receding. Both the inner corners of the eyes going deeper back.

d. “Keeping your legs receding, thighs receding, lift your base of the trunk in such a manner that the base of the pubic bone comes upward.

e. “Raise the sides of your navel. Very often the chest is likely to fall down, and compress the abdomen — and the sides of the navel [mistakenly] descend... because the head and thoracic rib cage, being heavier, drop onto the abdominal region... Ascend from the base of the spine and do not allow the skull or rib cage to fall.... In other words, the thoracic chest upward, head straight, neck straight.

f. “Like a puppet with string tied to its head, feel as if there is a thread attached to the top of your skull... that lifts the whole body. Maintain that inner ascendance.

g. “A slow soft inhalation and a slow soft exhalation, both sides receiving... equal energy. If the same amount of energy has to reach each side, both sides have to lift equally. Equal activisation and equal awareness.

h “A slow soft inhalation and a slow soft exhalation. The anterior body, from inside, coming further alive. As the body gets lifted, you find that there is something opening from the [anterior face]... of the posterior trunk. Try to give that good length. Feel its broadness, so that the whole organic anterior body ascends upward. Maintain that lift.

i. “Brain quiet and body firm. The flow of quietness must penetrate from the brain to the body. But in that state of quietness, the body should not get dropped.... The physical energy has to remain in a lifted state

j. “Remain silent and quiet, the front brain going towards the back brain. While listening to me, the front brain peeps out slightly [like from behind a curtain] to listen and catch the words. Once you have heard the words, make your frontal brain cells recede towards the back brain, and remain in that state for a while, observing that state. If every other part of the body is really free, how will you enjoy that state? How will you be in that state? How will you merge yourself into that state? Observe that very carefully.”
[Geeta Iyengar — Pune July 9, 2009]

2. Swastikasana
a. Refine the pose to prevent back pain, groin tightness and fatigue when sitting. For all three of these things, first sit on a stack of 3-5 blankets folded in half, which provides both a firmer support, more height, and a deeper base that increases the amount of thigh support.

b. For upper back pain and shoulder problems, keep the armpit chest more open by belting the arms as in Sarvangasana. Then rest the hands on stacked blankets on the thighs, so that the hands are above the elbows, to descend the triceps. Then the backs of the upper arms will feel heavier, the shoulder blades will descend, and the frontal chest will be able to lift more. This prevents the drop of the rib cage onto the abdomen.

c. For the groin tightness, support the knees and weight down the groins with sandbags.

d. “Connect your dorsal to the frontal sternum chest — that is the area where you drop. The moment you begin to drop, the sleepy state is inevitable. So, dorsal towards the frontal sternum chest — awaken yourself with a deep inhalation.... After the inhalation you have to connect your dorsal to the frontal chest to avoid that stooping or dropping.... Coil the ribs, re-coiling the intercostal muscles... in the [armpit] chest”
[Geeta Iyengar — Pune July 9, 2009]

3. Savasana with crosswise blanket
a. To further coil open the armpit chest to make sitting in Swastikasana easier. Recline, resting the shoulder blades on a blanket trifolded lengthwise (like a pranayama pillow) with each end of the blanket protruding from the armpit, over the biceps. Rest the head on a trifolded blanket.

4. Ujjayi III in Savasana with crosswise blanket
a. Slow soft inhalation and a slow soft exhalation.

5. Savasana on spinewise blankets
a. Fold two blankets in half lengthwise and use a third blanket for the head. The blanket support allows the anterior trunk to ascend from the pelvis to the top chest. Bolster weight on thighs.

b. “In pranayama savasana, don’t take any chances.... These tilts have to be avoided.” Although small physical imbalances such as leg length differences and spinal misalignments are freely acknowledged to have a negative effect, they are not commonly acknowledged in pranayama — which depends, all the more so, on the alignment to channel the prana evenly to all parts of the body to ensure “eveness of mind.” This is a more subtle understanding of learning “the direction of the pose.”
[Geeta Iyengar — Pune July 9, 2009]

6. Ujjayi III in Savasana on spinewise blankets
a. “Inhalation has to first rejuvenate the body — so gradually inhale by opening and widening the bottom ribs towards the sides. Then gradually lift the bottom ribs up towards the upper chest, moving the whole frontal region of the chest....

b. “A slow soft deep inhalation, like the fountain water spreading all over, from the center to the sides, as though the skin and muscles are spreading.... I used the word deep so that you...go until the inhalation breath is felt. Somewhere the breath vanishes, and you can’t inhale anymore, but still you can find some more freedom created in the chest region.... The inhalation elevates the center back ribs from the bolster.... Maintaining their lift, gradually exhale, keeping the lifted back ribs — where you have elevated — from [just dropping] “dead” on the bolster.... so that it forms a kind of “mountain” at the front.”
[Geeta Iyengar — Pune July 9, 2009]

7. Baddha Konasana
a. Back to wall, sit on folded blankets high enough to support the outer thighs.

b. Brick between feet.

c. Compare Ujjayi pranayama with and without brick between the feet: The wider the legs, the more the breath goes towards the side ribs.
“Intelligizing the body with the breath means that you have to get the posture, and then introduce the breath to that posture.... If the vessel is open, the prana can enter in. If the vessel itself is [closed], the breath cannot fill in that area. The breathing is the instrument in the pranayama.... It is not “breath control” as it is normally called. It is the prana control inside.... you adjust those inner areas that have to get exposed gradually to that real energy....”
[.i.Geeta Iyengar — Pune July 9, 2009;]

8. Swastikasana
a. Compare Ujjayi pranayama with Baddha Konasana: The breath is more centralized in Swastikasana.

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