Pranayama is an ancient science of breath and mind. The fourth stage of Astanga Yoga of Patanaji.
Peter has been a student of this subtle and profound transformational art for over 20 years.
In his recent course he created a structured introduction to this detailed practice. To find out more about the course and the Art of Pranayama you can read what he has to say about the course: (note: course will be repeated February 2021)
Yogic Breath Intensive
This 4 week progressive course is a development of the YBI part 1. It is open to people who did not participate in the first course so long as they are regular practitioners of yoga. The course is an education, not only a practice. It is required to attend all sessions. This course involves quite some commitment and responsibility. There will be some quite sitting, a little asana, and a lot of detailed breath work. On this course you will require a totally empty stomach (under no circumstances can you eat before class for 2- 3 hours before. Take note. Have respect for the directives)
What we cover:
We review the foundational steps to begin with. Develop skills step by step to ensure quality and sensitivity. With Breath, QUALITY is everything. As we establish the Pranayama practice we will then expand our repertoire of rhythms and introduce something a called “Khumbaka” the holding of the breath. For this we will have to explore a little of the “Bhandas” the “seals of life” that hold and direct the flow of subtle energy in us. We learn to empower the Nadi, our energy body, charging up our system.
More detail of the implications of the practice:
Breath happens. There is nothing to do. What an interesting part of our life?Breathing is such an “important” function however we are not responsible for its function; we don’t have to “do” the breath. This is the definition of an autonomic function; it happens by its self. Yogic Breath Work (AKA Pranayama) is a skilful dance with the essence of our life.
Yogicaly: Learning to engage with the unconscious process of respiration, turning breath into a conscious process. To do this the mind must pay close attention to the breath, becoming sensitive and consistent with our attention. This has many implications. Firstly, symbolically we become conscious author of each breath, these fundamental events (inhale/exhale) that happen 23,000 times a day. This is related to maturity and becoming actualised as a mature adult being as we in a sense take responsibility for what was unconscious.
Physiologically: over time we educate and strengthen the respiratory system to be functioning better. To breathe well is to live well – fact. There are no aspects of life that are not effected by the breath. The difference between life and death may seem obvious in relation to respiration but in fact there are many layers of depth and power to being alive. Regular practice will make your normal breath, your ‘unconscious breath’, more stable and lighter, providing more energy moment to moment. This is great for your body, mind, mood, and energy levels
Psychologically: as we begin to ‘interfere’ with the breath we may try to be controlling rather than participating. In fact control can be one of our main modus of operation in life, this bring positives and negatives. Pranayama practice brings a clear seeing of this terrain and can be a powerful eye opener for those wishing to be more in tune with themselves.
Working with the breath we quickly learn to be humble and to listen to the flow of life.
We learn, at our own pace, to be in connection to subtle aspects of life. The development of sensitivity in the way we pay attention supports our self development by making us more alert to our mind. Unconscious or subconscious thought patterns that may be floating just beneath the surface of conscious awareness are witnessed. we learn to understand ourselves at a deeper level.
Pranayama, as the yogic breath work is called, can support getting In touch with our shadow side (which is by definition what we do not yet see) an important aspect of maturing as an adult human. If you have ever noticed how you subconsciously hold negative beliefs about yourself and life, you will be able to relate. ( I can offer another course about this). Control mechanisms will be challenged by the simple fact that the breath is more important than your mind. The Prana is ‘superior’ to an agenda of the mind. The way things actually happen is different from expectations. The mind, its attention and application of influence, must be in tune with the pranic system, we soon feel it when it’s not. Control is not wrong, but to be over controlling is to over emphasise one aspect of our being. An example of this is like if we are working fitness only to gain muscle mass without respect of function of joints, it doesn’t lead to wholistic results and causes problems.
Energy Body: The energy in our body, we are lead to believe, is some finite force that is constantly being ‘spent’ irreplaceably. We learn this is not true and it is possible to build up energy in the system as well as better energy management. Pranayama leads to vibrant living through the improvements to repository function and the “purification of the minds negative tendencies”. In the practice of pranayama we learn to listen, influence and moderate prana with great respect. We can become a highly charged energetic system through the induction and preservation of Prana.
Philosophically: The real benefits of pranayama are something hard to put into words. As this course develops the stability of the breath system, conditions the minds attentive capacity we will introduce to our awareness something we can only call “stillness”. The breath, when it comes to be stationary in Khumbaka (yogic breath hold) has a remarkable effect on perception. We can become intimately connected to a deep source within, a source that is our centre and does not have a location. A place that is more “me” than the body in its current form and yet is more impersonal than personal.
Pranayama is a profound and simple practice that strengthens the mind and concentration. It is a powerful preparation for meditation and seeing into the depths of the only real question: “Who am I?”