Namaste from Pondicherry, India
Beautiful Ripple Yoga Community!
It has now been two weeks since I departed Seattle for Sadhana in India. Life at the Ashram here in Pondicherry is demanding. We are fully immersed in the yogic lifestyle, living by our principals (Yamas and Niyamas, the first two of the 8 limbs of the Ashtanga Yoga system. These include a strict vegetarian diet, celibacy, and regular rhythm in our practice and daily routines. We continually practice Karma Yoga, service to others, as it is one path to enlightenment.
I am reminded that as a human being we have responsibilities, and these responsibilities are to serve others. The service of self is a path to self-destruction and unhappiness. People often remark to me on my happiness, and the answer is simple, I find as many ways as I can each day to help another human being, to be of service, including teaching yoga to the beautiful Ripple Community. Even in Sadhana 10,000 miles away.
In this week’s lesson, we discuss the importance of Pranayama. “Prana” means “energy or breath” and “Yama” is ”to control.” Therefore Pranayama is to control energy or breath. This is the fourth limb of yoga, and it is vital to any yoga practice. Here at the Ashram, we practice Pranayama at least 5 hours a day. Did you know that most people breathe just enough to stay alive? Including you? Shocking, isn’t it. Shallow breathing is the cause of a litany of medical issues in the physical body including blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and many more! It is also the cause of mental stress because shallow breathing tells the mind to get up and go, rather than relax.
Get to the studio 5 minutes before class. You can also do this in the morning. Sit on your mat in Vajrasana, or thunderbolt posture. This is sitting with the hips to heels and the spine erect. The hands can be placed face down on the thighs, fingers together. Close the eyes, inhale exhale, and silently chant “Om” to yourself 3 times on the exhale. From there, breath into the full lungs, belly, mid-section and top, for a minimum of 4 seconds. Exhale for the same 4 seconds, squeezing all the air out. You can do this for up to 8 seconds depending on your lung capacity. Do this for at least 5 minutes, if not longer, and on your final 3 breaths exhale “Om” to yourself. You will notice that you are more relaxed and more at ease, and ready for practice! You can do this in the morning, mid-day and at night before bed in addition to before your practice. Enjoy and as always if you have any questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.