Co-ordinating Breath with Asanas + SSY Teachers Refresher

Asanas and Breath:

The two frequently asked questions in my yoga classes are:

  1. How to co-ordinate asanas with breath, and
  2. Should we use ujjayi (sounding) breath when practicing asanas ?

I recommend the following:

  1. In any posture where you feel expansion of the chest, such as when stretching the arms upward or sideways, doing backward bend, cobra etc., inhale as you go into the posture.
  2. In any posture where you feel contraction in the tummy, such as when doing a forward bend, sideways bend, twist etc., exhale as you go into the posture.
  3. Keep breathing while you hold a posture.
  4. If you go into a posture with an inhalation, come out of the posture with an exhalation and vice versa.  For example, inhale as you go into a backward bend, keep breathing while you are holding the posture, breathe in just before coming out of the posture and exhale as you come out of the posture.
  5. There are certain positions where a teacher may ask you to hold the breath. In that case holding of the breath is intentional and serves a purpose. But don’t hold the breath unintentionally; it is a sign of unnecessary tension in the body and mind.
  6. When you are not sure whether to breathe in or breathe out, don’t worry about it, just breathe normally.
  7. Take deep breaths and keep the face and throat relaxed.  Taking ujjayi (sounding) breaths continuously for a long time can be tiring and you may end up contracting your throat a little too much, which can restrict the proper flow of breath.
  8. Before you begin your asana practice, you can do some ujjaayi and bhastrika pranayamas, both are energizing and they generate some sound that helps reduce chattering of the mind. But when doing your asana practice, keep the breath long and quiet. This will enhance the quietness of the mind. If you keep breathing with a sound, the mind may not settle down and, when in a class, it may be disturbing to other students. When practicing at home, you can try both ways and see which way you prefer.

Saint Kabir’s advice for a seeker:  “With each breath remember God. Who knows this may be your last breath!”,  says Kabir, a mystic poet and saint who has been a great influence and source of inspiration in my life.

Sri Sri Yoga Teachers Refresher. 

Many of you are wondering if I am planning to travel and teach this year. I am planning to conduct couple of refresher courses  for Sri Sri Yoga teachers this year. The first one is scheduled to be held at the Canadian ashram in Montreal, November 16 – 23.  Another one will probably be held either in India or Malaysia sometime in December or early next year.

Enjoy breathing. It will bring contentment.

Krishan

Happy Guru Purnima!

Hello My Yoga Friends,

Today is a special day for spiritual seekers. Like we celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, today is the day the spiritual seekers take time to celebrate their fullness, to reflect on their spiritual journeys and to express their gratefulness to their Spiritual Masters for their guidance, love, support, protection, and trusting companionship.

I feel very blessed to have met my Spiritual Master, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, over 26 years ago. Since then He has been a very big part of my life.  He is always there for me, and millions of other seekers around the globe. I have learnt and received so much from Him, especially His unconditional love, that there are not enough words to express my gratitude.

He is a true Yogi in action, a living example and inspiration to all those who wonder what Yoga truly is and is it really possible to be Yogi-like as described in Yoga Scriptures! He possesses all the virtues and qualities of a true Yogi that the Yoga Scriptures describe. I feel so fortunate and privileged to witness such a precious presence on Earth.       DSC_4719

One of these days I hope to share with you a few glimpses of my journey with Him. He  leads my way and makes me feel like a king. My heart is filled with gratitude!

On this special day, I also want to express my gratefulness to those of you who have been a part of my spiritual journey. May we continue to grow on the path!

My 15 Minutes Energy Booster Yoga:

As mentioned in my previous post, below is a short and quick yoga program to do on days when you don’t have the time for your full yoga practice, or when you just need a quick boost of energy. I have not given detailed instructions assuming you already know them.

Do the following sequence at medium to fast pace. Hold each posture for about 10 seconds, except during Sun Salutations.

  1. Three rounds of Kapalabhati.
  2.  2-4 rounds of Sun Salutations.
  3. Sequence of  Standing  Forward bend , Backward bend, Sideways bend, and Twist. Repeat the sequence 3 times.
  4. Chair Pose. 5-10 times
  5.  Another two rounds of fast paced Sun Salutation, followed by 5-10 push-ups.
  6. Sequence of Cobra, Bow, Cobra and Dog Pose. Repeat the sequence three times. Child’s pose.
  7. Lie on your back. Sequence of 10 -15 abdominal crunches, Boat, and Bridge pose. Repeat 3 times.
  8. Sitting Forward Bend and Inclined Plane in sequence, 3 times.
  9. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama. 3 -5 rounds.
  10. Rest.

After you do this sequence a few times, it will begin to flow smoothly. You can add your own variations to it, or create your own sequence.  Most importantly, have fun while doing it.  

My Yoga Studio

Now that I am not travelling much, I have opened a yoga studio in Halifax. I have named it Happy Turtle. It has been an exciting and humbling experience.

In my classes now I incorporate some new breath-coordinated  contraction exercises and light weights  to improve muscle tone and strength. To differentiate these classes from regular Sri Sri Yoga classes I call these classes Yoga PRO for now.

Over the years I have seen that most yoga students don’t do enough asanas to strengthen and tone their bones and muscles. Just stretching the muscles alone over a prolonged period can result in weakness and instability of body-joints. Incorporating few minutes of breath-coordinated contraction exercises and  light-weights with yoga practice can avoid this potential problem. People are already reporting additional benefits. I may offer one week refresher course for Sri Sri Yoga teachers so that they can teach this new format.

Q/A

Dear Krishanji:

Every time I read your post about yoga path, tears come to me with gratitude…. I am still teaching Sri Sri Yoga, for 5 years, through ups and downs, and lack of potential enthusiasm and interest in the practices for some moments.                      Started favela and prison projects in Brazil. Remember when you came to Argentina prison with us!

I have not fully learned the ‘skill in action’ yet, but I can feel that I’m a nicer person and a better person.

In Karma Yoga, when Lord Krishna says “do your duty”, How can we know what is that we have to do? Could we elect that in a wrong way?

With love,

Caroline

Dear Caroline,

Like every thing else in life, enthusiasm and interest also go up and down, but the skill is to continue, and you are doing that. It is so wonderful that you are noticing and acknowledging your growth, that you are becoming a better person. In my opinion, the purpose of practicing yoga is to become a better person. Listen to Guru Ji’s talks on Bhagvat Geeta and Karma Yoga, and stop worrying about what you have to do, as you are already performing self-less service and, therefore, are on the path of Karma Yoga. You (we all) just have to get better at it.

Happy Guru Purnima!

Krishan

 

More on Sun Salutations….

Here are some pictures of hundreds of us doing Sun Salutations at the Art of Living World Culture Festival held at the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

Also below is an email I received  from Jegethiswari Kaledas a few weeks ago:

” Krishanjiii!!!
I just woke from a magnificent dream. Can’t wait to tell you. You brought us to see the sun. The splendour of the sun cannot be described. It was so huge right in front of me, shining and glowing magnificently. It was soo beautiful, words cannot describe that phenomenon. Wow! And your beautiful voice led us into meditation. Perfect. It was so good to see you….in dreams. Happy Shivaratri:) “