Pranayama Program Level 1

Pranayama is a profound practice. It has a whole host of health benefits and is probably one of the most effective tools there is for holistic health. It works primarily on the nervous system, and through that, it has an influence on pretty much every other system in the body. It can improve your digestion, give you a slower and more even heartbeat, bring greater mental calm, give you more energy, help you deal with the effects of stress, improve your cardiovascular fitness, improve the health of all your organs and much more.

Pranayama needs regular practice and commitment to start being internalized and genuinely felt. This eight-week program is the perfect place to begin your relationship with pranayama. Helping you develop a regular practice and introducing different techniques at the appropriate times. There is a new class for each week. Ideally, you would do this class every day of the week, but indeed as many days as you can. There is also an introductory video for the start of each week, where we will go over new techniques and themes.

Pranayama Program Level 1

Week 1

When and How

This short video should be watched before beginning any of the practical classes. It details important information about how to the get the best out of your practice.

Watch the information video at the start of each week and then repeat the class video for as many days as you can in the week.

Contraindications are highlighted so that you can practice safely and at the appropriate time.

Enjoy the course!

Week One Information

We begin by finding relaxation. Pranayama works with our nervous system, and the first thing to do with that is finding some peace and calm in our mind and body.
The breath is the most vital part of our life, but very few of us connect with it consciously. This week we start to form a relationship with the breath.
You will work on diaphragmatic or belly breathing and on using a double length exhale.

Week One Practice

There is not so much technique this week, it is more foundational and preparing the ground. Bringing us to calm and balance so that we can start to work with prana.
It’s essential for pranayama to have a free breath. Not being tense around the stomach, which happens with stress. We work on this.
We use a double length exhale as this stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system - the calming part of the nervous system.

Week 2

Week Two Information

The relaxation goes, and we begin to introduce our first classical pranayama techniques, Nadi Shodana and Brahmari.

Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing)  - nerve cleansing - is effective at balancing the hemispheres of the brain, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and the major nadis (energy channels) in the body.

The class closes with Brahmari pranayama, very calming for the mind.

Week Two Practice

We try a preparation for Uddiyana Bandha Kriya. Uddiyana Bandha Kriya is a more intricate technique, this week we start to learn how to work it. 

Nadi Shodana and Brahmari are bringing our minds to a calmer, quieter place, balancing the nervous system and our energy channels.

We are preparing a solid foundation for the start of our pranayama practice.  

Week 3

Week Three Information

Last week we began with a preparatory exercise for Uddiyana Bandha Kriya. This week we try the real thing. It can be a little tricky, and this is where we start. 

The other new technique this week is Kapalabhati, activating and energizing. It’s also a bit tricky, and we take a lot of time to explain it and get used to it. 

It’s a challenging week regarding techniques, but with practice, they get easier.

Do not practice uddiyana bandha kriya and kapalabhati if you are pregnant or on your cycle.

Week Three Practice

We build on the relaxation we have developed in the first two weeks, our nervous system is coming into more of a balance. Now we begin to work with prana more directly through the stimulating practice of kapalabhati.

The technique is becoming more important now, and a bit of experimenting and learning is required this week. The new methods are two of the most important in hatha yoga and central to growing the practice.

The real work is beginning.

Do not practice uddiyana bandha kriya and kapalabhati if you are pregnant or on your cycle.

Week 4

Week Four Information

Three new techniques this week. Agni Sara, Sitali, and Ujjayi. Agni means fire, and we are stimulating our digestive fire.  

Sitali, the one that cools. One of the most therapeutic pranayamas. Useful for taking excess acidity out of the body and balancing the effects of pita.

Third, Ujjayi, the victorious pranayama. In most yoga practice Ujjayi has become associated with breathing with sound. But it is also a classical pranayama technique that involves more than just the sound.

Do not practice Uddiyana bandha kriya, Agni sara and Kapalabhati if you are pregnant or on your cycle.

Week Four Practice

We are forming more of a complete practice. We are now practicing the two most important preparatory techniques together, Uddiyana Bandha Kriya and Agni Sara.  

With Uddiyana Bandha Kriya we were compressing and massaging our internal organs, then with Agni Sara, we are giving them space.

Our internal organs and digestive process are being nourished, and we are clearing our energetic pathways.  Sitali and Ujjayi take this further, they are two of the most foundational pranayama practices. Preparing the body for the channeling of prana.

Do not practice Uddiyana bandha kriya, Agni sara and Kapalabhati if you are pregnant or on your cycle.

Week 5

Week Five Information

We introduce the rest of the preparatory practices this week, Simha mudra, Jivha bandha, and Brahma mudra.

With these three new techniques, we are releasing tension from around the neck, jaw, face, eyes, and mouth. Areas which hold negative psychological stress.

We again calm our nervous system and help prepare the way for centralizing prana.

Do not practice Uddiyana bandha kriya, Agni sara and Kapalabhati if you are pregnant or on your cycle.

Week Five Practice

This is quite a full class, we now practice all five preparatory techniques, with three of them being new. Releasing tension and emotional history.

We continue to work with Sitali and Ujjayi, furthering the benefits from these two calming, soothing pranayamas.

You should be getting deep into the practice now.

Do not practice Uddiyana bandha kriya, Agni sara, and Kapalabhati if you are pregnant or on your cycle.

Week 6

Week Six Information

No new pranayamas this week, however lots of refining technique work. We change the focus and start to really put an emphasis on connecting with the Bandhas - Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha(different to Uddiyana Bandha Kriya).

To grow in pranayama it is necessary to learn how to control and use these Bandhas for the directing of prana. Although it appears in pranayama we are working with our breath, we are actually working with our prana. The Bandhas are key for this.

Week Six Practice

The class starts with breathing on our back, trying to learn how to differentiate the different parts of the abdomen and how to find more subtle muscular control.

We then take this Bandha work to our seated posture. There will be instruction at the appropriate times when and how to engage the Bandhas.

Now we are really learning pranayama.

Week 7

Week Seven Information

This week goes back to a more traditional practice set up. We perform all of the preparatory techniques, and we do some of the classic foundational pranayamas.

The classes from here go into more of a self-practice format. The pranayamas are introduced with some instruction, but there is more time for silence and practicing. 

Well done you for coming this far, remember to look for the bandhas.

Do not practice Uddiyana bandha kriya, Agni sara and Kapalabhati if you are pregnant or on your cycle.

Week Seven Practice

Relaxed concentration is the aim now. You are familiar with all of the techniques this week and should be gently trying to introduce the Bandha work finding out what that feels like in your body.

Hopefully, the effects of practice are beginning to be felt, and you are starting to find some confidence with the different techniques. Though some sure are tricky and can be a project to work on for a long time.

Do not practice Uddiyana bandha kriya, Agni sara and Kapalabhati if you are pregnant or on your cycle.

Week 8

Week Eight Information

This is an exciting week, not only should you be feeling very good about yourself for completing the program, but you also get a new secret pranayama.  

Surya Bhedana - Sun channel activation - is introduced this week, it is the first pranayama we learn that is having more of an activating effect on Kundalini.

We also develop the technique in Kapalabhati, bringing in more Bandha control.

Week Eight Practice

The last seven weeks should have had a very balancing, nourishing effect on our nervous system and minds. Now we move to more direct activation of Kundalini.

Both Surya Bhedana and the more refined control we are introducing in Kapalabhati will begin this process.

Exciting times, keep practicing!

Continuing With Practice

You have completed the eight weeks, well done. You have done yourself an excellent service, and your body and mind are receiving a host of benefits.

We have built a great foundation, and you have a strong practice, but pranayama needs repetition over an extended period of time. We are having deep and profound effects on the very core of our being, that takes patience.

This video tells you how to keep going with practice. Practice in this way for another couple of months with this pranayama breathing exercises and then start the Pranayama Program Level Two.