Breath control to balance your body, mind, and energy

The word “pranayama” is a Sanskrit compound, consisting of “prana” meaning “breath; life force” and “ayama”, “control” or “ayāma”, “extend, draw out” (linguists are still debating the latter part of the compound). Pranayama is thus alternately translated as “breath control” or “extension of life force”. Both meanings are present in the technique of Pranayama, which is a way to balance your life force or energy through your breath. The earliest mentions of Pranayama can be found in the Baghavad Gita (written somewhere between 500 and 200 BCE).

For more thorough descriptions of the practice itself, Patanjali’s collection of aphorisms Yoga Sutra (compiled prior to 400 CE) and Svami Svatmarama’s yoga manual Hatha Yoga Pradipika (fifteenth-century CE) are the oldest Hindu sources. In Yoga Sutra, Pranayama is identified as the fourth limb of Patanjali’s eightfold path towards enlightenment. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, different techniques of Pranayama are defined and described. This later source is the one that mostly influenced the modern yoga practice of breathing exercises.

Most yoga schools today use Pranayama as part of their practice. Though most use it merely as an addition to their regular routine of postures and very few understand its full complexity. In modern yoga we give much more attention to physical postures but in pre-modern yoga in India, it was pranayama that was given the highest importance.
Hatha yoga uses the body as a tool for energetic and psychological transformation. The most profound and effective way of doing that is through the breath and the techniques of pranayama. Some old texts see pranayama as preparation for deep meditation while others see it as a way to go to full liberation on its own.

There are several different types of Pranayama. Initially, we practice more of the calming ones that bring our nervous system into a state of health and balance. We must develop a strong foundation before we start working with more stimulating pranayamas and beginning the process of energetic transformation.

Pranayama should be taken seriously, we are working with our nervous system which in turn has an effect on nearly every other system in the body. In today's overstressed, fast-paced world, pranayama, done correctly, is a great tool to counter the effects of stress. Pranayama can help with your energy levels, your digestion, the health of your cells, your mood, your ability to concentrate, your ability to relax, your heart rate, your breath function and a lot more.

For holistic health, it is one of the best things you can do. But even more importantly it will help reveal a deeper understanding of reality to one who is patient and committed. At Yogateket, we offer Pranayama as a separate practice in which you can go deeply into it. It’s also a part of our Meditation, Hot 26, Ashtanga Vinyasa, Hatha and Vinyasa flow classes.

Benefits of Pranayama

·             Reduces stress and anxiety
·             Relaxes the muscles
·             Clears nasal passages
·             Improves pulmonary function
·             Lowers blood pressure
·             Boosts and stimulates the immune system
·             Assists in steadying the mind, strengthening willpower

1 Program

8 weeks

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.

30 Classes

10 min

Uddiyana Bandha Kriya - Tutorial

Uddiyana Bandha Kriya also called Nauli in its full form. One of the most important exercises for health and flow of energy. We stimulate the digestive organs and the intestines, helping the health of the stomach, digestion, constipation, release of tension and toxins. Through this, we affect the well being of the whole body and mind.

Full Nauli is a difficult technique that takes time and patience. In this tutorial, we also work through the Pre-Nauli stages. We make the benefits accessible and give you the information to start in the simplest manner and gradually grow your control, working through the stages to get to the full form. The king of hatha yoga.

Free digestive congestion for the channelizing of energy.

5 min

Simha Mudra Tutorial

A large part of pranayama practice is preparing the body and mind to allow the free flow of energy. We learn various techniques to let go of tension and stuck energy in the essential parts of the body. Often we hold tension around the face, jaw, and neck. In the many small and sensitive muscles in these areas.

This is a pranayama practice to release tension from the face, jaw, and neck. Waking up the muscles of the face and even reducing wrinkles! Soothing and Energising at the same time. Easy to do with both physical and psychological effects.

Simha means “lion,” and mudra means “gesture.”

5 min

Jivha Bandha Tutorial

As we explore our pranayama practices, we can learn various techniques and preparatory exercises to bring us to places of more significant connection. Jivha Bandha is the counteraction to Simha Mudra (Lion's breath) when we stretch the tongue down. We are doing yoga with our tongue.

Jivha Bandha is effective at reducing tension and gripping around the mouth, jaw, and neck. It helps to calm the nervous system and develop more inner awareness. Another benefit is that Jivha Bandha reduces the production of saliva, thus allowing you to maintain higher levels of stillness and reduces the distraction of needing to swallow.

Jivha means “soul” and bandha means “internal lock“.

15 min

Bandhas Tutorial

Bandhas are one of the most important things in hatha yoga, however they are difficult to master. Bandha translates as lock or seal. There are three main bandhas – mula, uddiyana and jalandhara.  We use bandhas to channelize and direct energy.

In this tutorial we learn how to begin developing control of mula bandha and uddiyana bandha. They are situated around the pelvic floor, and we will discover how to connect with them. To grow in pranayama and yoga you must develop control of these muscular locks. 

The core of hatha yoga.

10 min

Office Breathing Break

This is a short ten-minute breathing exercise designed to be easily done in the office. But you don’t have to be in the office to benefit from doing it! It’s simple and accessible to anyone.

We work with breathing into the stomach, developing the belly breath. Then moving onto the three-part breath, finding space and expansion throughout the breathing mechanism.

Calming and at the same time energizing. Let go of bad breathing habits and find your best breath.

15 min

Kapalabhati - Tutorial

Kapalabhati means shining skull. One hypothesis is that it is cleansing for the frontal part of the brain. It is actually a Kriya rather than a pranayama and a prerequisite for Bhastrika.

It is a fundamental Hatha Yoga technique. Many benefits especially respiratory health, clearing mucus and activating of energy.

Contraindication, do not do this pranayama if you are pregnant or on your menstrual cycle.

10 min

Agni Sara - Tutorial

Agni Sara is one of the Shat kriyas (six cleansing processes). It is the counteraction to Uddiyana Bandha Kriya or Nauli. Agni means fire - we are invigorating our digestive fire.

The stomach is expanded on an exhale with the breath held out. We are giving space to our internal organs allowing the free flow of substances and energy. Very beneficial for digestion and health of the digestive organs.

Contraindication, do not do this pranayama if you are pregnant or on your menstrual cycle.

5 min

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.

20 min

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.
5 min

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.

20 min

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 out pranayama practice.  

20 min

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.
30 min

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.
5 min

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.
30 min

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.

10 min

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.

30 min

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.
5 min

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.

30 min

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.

5 min

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.

30 min

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.