January 17, 2012

Adding To The Practice

Yesterday I began adding a few practices to my morning yoga practice.  I wake up and on an empty stomach I practice Uddhiyana Bandha Kriya, Kapalbhati and Nadi Shodhana.  Then I drink some water and chant the peace invocations in Sanskrit, preferably 3 times each.

I love the chanting.  I think I love it so much because I love learning new languages and Sanskrit sounds so beautiful when it is pronounced correctly.  We went over the proper pronunciation of Sanskrit letters on Sunday so I think I'm getting the hang of it. 

The breathing exercises are another story.  Uddhiyana Bandha Kriya, I seem to understand.  Kapalbhati is more difficult.  Where it is similar to the Kapalbhati that is done at the end of a Bikram class there are some subtle differences.  First of all you exhale through your nose, the mouth is closed and the contraction in your stomach comes from the lower belly just above your pubic bone.  It helps to engage the Mula Banddha as you are pumping the lower belly.  This definitley requires more finesse.  Finding and activating my lower belly is tough but it is like any practice, I just have to keep trying.  Nadi Shodhana is simple in theory but when one of your nostrils is plugged every morning, it definitely makes the practice more challenging.  Apparently placing a rolled up t shirt under your opposite arm will help unplugged the nostril.  This still hasn't worked for me.

What I love most about all of this, is that suddenly my yoga practice is no longer just an asana practice.  I have been studying the yamas and niyamas, I've started reading the Bhagavad-Gita, I am learning some of the Yoga Sutras, the one I can remember in Sanskrit - Yoga Citta Vrtti Nirodha, Yoga is the practice of channeling the whirlpool of the mind, ego and intellect.  The saying that yoga is not just about the physical is beginning to make sense to me - I'm starting to believe it.

But as Sri Pattabhi Jois says, "Whole life is practice. That is method."  We should never forget our practice.  Whatever it may be.

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