Himalayan Yoga

Our HimalayanĀ hansayogaĀ curriculum (gurukulam) is known by the Sanskrit name Hansayogin. This curriculum is placed fourth among the seven levels of the Teachings tab. This is a natural progression after daily wellness routines are in place. Then a disciplined practice of breathwork and movement led by breathing can be brought about. The curriculum begins by emphasizing the correct practice ofĀ ujjāyiĀ breathing (breath of victory), including how to place hands, how to synchronize the lower abdomen during the inhalation and exhalation, and how to experience the subtle movement sensation ofĀ prānaĀ (vital energy).

The second stage of this curriculum focuses on how the flowing movements linking the intermediate postures are superimposed on theĀ ujjāyiĀ breath. Thus these movements are synchronized with inhalation and exhalation. The goal at this stage is to coordinate a practice ofĀ yoga-vinyāsa-kramaĀ by harmonizing movements with theĀ ujjāyiĀ breathing.

A traditionalĀ yoga-nidrāĀ practice is taught to allow deep relaxation through a guided practice of conscious rest. WhileĀ yoga-nidrāĀ practice brings about quality relaxation by removing emotional disturbances, it is the practice ofĀ yoga-vinyāsaĀ that is said to be ideal in removing physical disturbances.

The third stage of this curriculum inspires participants to practiseĀ prānāyāmaĀ breathing techniques in order to enhance their personal wellbeing. Three systems ofĀ prānāyāmaĀ breathing techniques, viz. the classicalĀ yogasutra-based system, traditionalĀ haį¹­hayogaĀ system andĀ nathĀ system of Trayambaknath, are delineated for the aspirants.

InĀ yoga-vinyāsa,Ā the movements are led by the breath. This is the original style of yoga practice that integrates theĀ prānāyāmaĀ stage into theĀ ÄsanaĀ (steady posture) practice. The order that unfolds into a coordinated series is called theĀ krama. This sequence contains the intermediate steps ofĀ ÄsanaĀ postures as defining theĀ vinyāsaĀ of the principalĀ Äsana. Herein one can think ofĀ vinyāsaĀ as literally ā€œone movement into the nextā€ whileĀ kramaĀ implies ā€œplaced in a certain order.ā€ Those intermediate steps are also individualĀ ÄsanaĀ but linked with pauses in the breath to structure the flow into a complete sequence of the principalĀ ÄsanaĀ to which the wholeĀ vinyāsaĀ is ascribed. Hence an appropriate name for this style or approach toĀ aį¹£tāngayogaĀ (well-known eight-limbed yoga of sage PataƱjali) isĀ yoga-vinyāsa-krama.

The emotional disturbances and physical disturbances are deemed to be fundamental obstructions in the path of meditation and this is why the five restraints (yama) and five observances (niyama) have been listed as the ā€˜ten commandmentsā€™ for the first two stages of the eight limbs of yoga. These ten vows (sārvabhouma-mahāvratam) then make way for theĀ yoga-nidrāĀ andĀ yoga-vinyāsaĀ related to the next two stages ofĀ ÄsanaĀ andĀ prānāyāmaĀ ofĀ aį¹£tānga-yogaĀ (eight-limbed yoga).

While practising the basic techniques ofĀ yoga-vinyāsa-krama, the breath will rarely become laboured and the pulse rate will not race. Aerobic exercises have their place in building fitness and strengthening the cardiovascular system, but this form of yoga is designed to bring down the breathing rate and reduce the heart rate thus increasingĀ sāttwikaĀ tendencies of calmness. This calmness becomes invaluable in developingĀ samāpattiĀ (habitual engrossment upon the object of meditation due to the momentum of practice), thereby allowing mindfulness and steadiness to grip the meditator.

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