Monday, March 25, 2013

What Sivananda (with Prahlad) can teach us about Yoga

Sunday was the final day of the Yoga Conference, and since I missed the Sivananda class with Prahlad I decided to get on the GoTrain to Toronto. When I arrived I found out the class was a 6 hour intensive Advanced Hatha Yoga Workshop and without hesitation I signed up.  While I have read some books recommended by the Sivananda Center, seen the sequence, and met many Sivananda devotees, I did not take a class yet.  I tend to gravitate to the Vinyasa & Ashtanga styles of Yoga because of the fluid movement, but I knew the history behind Sivananda and wanted to experience it. I had some time to spend before class, so I went to the exhibition space to browse and met some lovely Sivananda Yogis from my Hometown.

I arrived in the class and lay my mat down.  The class was small with an intimate group of maybe 12 people.  First thing we do is relax also known as Savasana.  What a brilliant way to begin class.  While I have done this with my students, and even had other teachers do this, the concept behind this for the Sivananda program is to ensure the body is relaxed before approaching every asana class.  We follow with Om, and some mantra chanting led by Prahlada.

"Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts.  This is the secret of success." ~ Swami Sivananda

Second thing we do is Pranayama.  Pranayama practice is something beautiful and many people have witnessed the benefits of this practice.  The regulation of breath allows for oxygentated blood to flow through the nadi lines and awaken the body, heal diseases and bring a sense of peace.  With Sivananada Kapalabhatti is followed by Alternate Nostril.  The Altnernate Nostril is to alleviate any blockages that may be impeding the flow of prana and balance both hemisphere's of the brain.  I Love Pranayama! However, Prahlad was wise to point out that too much pranayama can lead to an overly sensitive personality, especially for those who live in metropolitan areas.
"Purity, patience, and perseverance are the three essentials to success and, above all, love." ~ Swami Sivananda

We progress into Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations).  This is done to warm up the body, to prepare for asana.  The thing I love is the Sequence is the traditional sequence as taught in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which is said to be the oldest text on the Hatha Yoga Practice.  Many people in the west recreate the Sun Salutation, and sometimes I feel like it is best to stick with the traditional way.  From there we do Leg Raises which inevitably helps to strengthen the core.

Finally, we progress to the Asana practice.  The sequence is the 12 basic asanas beginning with Headstand.  After each section of asana we do a Savasana.  Those that know me are aware that due to a few car accidents, Headstand is a pose that brings physical discomfort for me.....well not today.  Prahlad invited us to place equal energy on our forearms, and from their we would lift into SCORPION!!!  I loved it!  The BEST thing about the way Prahlad taught was instilling confidence in students.  Like me, many people had reservations or fears, and unless we face the fear we will always be frozen in time.  Since the class was aimed for advanced practitioners we were partnered up and taught how to safely assist and adjust.  After scorpion we progressed into some Handstand practice, which turned into Handstand into wheel, into a backflip....WHAT FUN!  Finally, we soon we were practicing falling, to get rid of any remaining fears.  My partner who was new to the practice, was doing brilliant but had fear.  Prahlad encouraged me to remind her of Hanuman, the great monkey deity who can do amazing things but only after he is told to.

The sequence follows with Shoulder stand, Plow and Fish Pose.  This is a rejuvenation pose that also helps to restore and heal the thyroid.  From there plow, bridge, fish pose, seated forward bend, backbends (cobra, locust, bow), seated spinal twist, standing forward bend, standing balance poses, triangle pose.  We repeated and held poses for maybe 90 seconds or more, and did some variations.  When we were in bow pose he encouraged us to touch our head to our buttocks, and made a joke about how some women can reach their buttocks to their head with ease, where everyone laughed.

"Whenever we attain a higher vision, the lower vision disappears of itself." ~ Swami Sivananda

Prahald is a brilliant teachers originally from Hydrabad, India.  He has taught with Sivananda over 25 years and truly makes students feel comfortable and relaxed when approaching the asana practice. He encouraged students to be open to mastering the basic asana.  He explained concepts with relation to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and also included some philosophy and anatomy.  I always encourage students to be open to yoga, be receptive to the practice more than the teacher (unless it is your Guru), but always be safe in your practice, meaning never overdo.  The one thing I loved about this class was the safety that it provided.  When Yoga asana is practiced in a safe way, we do not have injuries, instead we restore from them.  Most Sivananda Ashrams do not list the name of the teacher to encourage students to just show up for the practice.

While I have been considering exploring the Sivananda practice more, I am very grateful to have had this beautiful experience.

1 comment:

  1. Really i am impressed from this post....the person who created this post is a generous and knows how to keep the readers connected..Thanks for sharing this with us found it informative and interesting. Looking forward for more teacher training india |yoga therapy teachers training india |yoga courses india