Himalayan Yoga

Our Himalayan¬†hansayoga¬†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 of¬†ujjńĀyi¬†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 of¬†prńĀna¬†(vital energy).

The second stage of this curriculum focuses on how the flowing movements linking the intermediate postures are superimposed on the¬†ujjńĀyi¬†breath. Thus these movements are synchronized with inhalation and exhalation. The goal at this stage is to coordinate a practice of¬†yoga-vinyńĀsa-krama¬†by harmonizing movements with the¬†ujjńĀyi¬†breathing.

A traditional¬†yoga-nidrńĀ¬†practice is taught to allow deep relaxation through a guided practice of conscious rest. While¬†yoga-nidrńĀ¬†practice brings about quality relaxation by removing emotional disturbances, it is the practice of¬†yoga-vinyńĀsa¬†that is said to be ideal in removing physical disturbances.

The third stage of this curriculum inspires participants to practise¬†prńĀnńĀyńĀma¬†breathing techniques in order to enhance their personal wellbeing. Three systems of¬†prńĀnńĀyńĀma¬†breathing techniques, viz. the classical¬†yogasutra-based system, traditional¬†haŠĻ≠hayoga¬†system and¬†nath¬†system of Trayambaknath, are delineated for the aspirants.

In¬†yoga-vinyńĀsa,¬†the movements are led by the breath. This is the original style of yoga practice that integrates the¬†prńĀnńĀyńĀma¬†stage into the¬†ńĀsana¬†(steady posture) practice. The order that unfolds into a coordinated series is called the¬†krama. This sequence contains the intermediate steps of¬†ńĀsana¬†postures as defining the¬†vinyńĀsa¬†of the principal¬†ńĀsana. Herein one can think of¬†vinyńĀsa¬†as literally ‚Äúone movement into the next‚ÄĚ while¬†krama¬†implies ‚Äúplaced in a certain order.‚ÄĚ Those intermediate steps are also individual¬†ńĀsana¬†but linked with pauses in the breath to structure the flow into a complete sequence of the principal¬†ńĀsana¬†to which the whole¬†vinyńĀsa¬†is ascribed. Hence an appropriate name for this style or approach to¬†aŠĻ£tńĀngayoga¬†(well-known eight-limbed yoga of sage Pata√Ījali) is¬†yoga-vinyńĀsa-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 ‚Äėten commandments‚Äô for the first two stages of the eight limbs of yoga. These ten vows (sńĀrvabhouma-mahńĀvratam) then make way for the¬†yoga-nidrńĀ¬†and¬†yoga-vinyńĀsa¬†related to the next two stages of¬†ńĀsana¬†and¬†prńĀnńĀyńĀma¬†of¬†aŠĻ£tńĀnga-yoga¬†(eight-limbed yoga).

While practising the basic techniques of¬†yoga-vinyńĀsa-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 increasing¬†sńĀttwika¬†tendencies of calmness. This calmness becomes invaluable in developing¬†samńĀpatti¬†(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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