Pranayama and Meditation
plus Discourses

Summary
Notes from the 2012 Yoga Shibir given by Swamiji Asanganand Saraswati. (Any errors or omissions are mine, and mine alone.)

Eric Armstrong
TreeLight.com/yoga

Friday Evening

Yogic Breath

  1. Expand chest to maximum. Relax. (inhale)
    1. Expand upward, rather than outward
  2. Compress abdomen to maximum. Relax. (exhale)

    Notes:
    1. I add Moola Bandha as part of the compression. When relaxed, energy rises up the spine.
    2. The sequence can be done as "Yin-Yang" practice, with one part blending smoothly into
      the other. But as I found out the following day, the "relax" part is very short, with most of
      the time in each cycle spent either expanding the chest or compressing the abdomen.

Nadi Shodana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

When to Practice

Discourse: Rebirth

Saturday Morning

Yogic Breath

All pranayam practices use principles of the Yogic breath, so it needs to be mastered:

  1. Compress abdomen to exhale fully.
  2. Relaxing the abdomen, begin expanding the chest immediately*
       --
    Only a little air goes into the abdomen. Most goes into the chest.
  3. Relaxing the chest, begin compressing the abdomen immediately.

    Notes:
    1. Having experimented with this for a while, I find that breathing into the chest brings the energy up the spine way more effectively than the "belly breathing" I was taught in the martial arts.
    2. It takes more energy to expand the chest, which may be why the martial arts prefer the belly breath, but the energy also builds the chest wall, making it more muscular. And lifting the chest has a terrific impact on your posture--which makes it easier to breathe, and easier for the energy to rise. (Which may help to explain why, after a few days of this practice, I find that I have a lot more energy. After a round of pranayama with the Yogic Breath, I feel the expansion in the chest and energy in the chest muscles, as though I was lifting weights or something.)
    3. I now understand why Yogic adepts have a large, expanded chest, while "internal" martial artists (e.g. Taiji) tend to have a large belly. Belly breathing keeps expanding the abdomen, stretching it. This style inhales without constantly distending it. Meanwhile, the compression on the exhale helps to keep it naturally taut.
    4. One exception was Taiji Master Chen Youze, who had an exceptionally strong physique, with a muscular chest and taut stomach. A multi-time Push Hands champion, he was unique in that he taught inhaling into the chest, and then "pushing the energy down" to the dantien (abdomen) when exhaling. So he was using the Yogic Breath!

Nadi Shodana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) with So Ham ("soh hah-m")

Bhastrika (aka Phastrika-bellows breath) with So Ham

Sitting Still / Padmasana

Meditation: Sitting Still, Watch the Breath

Discourse: The Importance of a Guru

Saturday Evening

Yogic Breath

Nadi Shodana

Bhastrika

Kapalbhati (Kapal Bhati, or "head awareness")

Pranayama Series

Mantra Jap ("jahp")

Meditation

Meditation: __2nd practice, after watching the breath__ mantra?

Practice Sequence

Discourse: Yoga and Spirituality

Sunday Morning

Review of Yogic Breath

Nadi Shodana + Bhastrika

Kapal Bhati

Yoga Nidra

Q & A

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