Breath and Self-Mastery: The Tantric Revolution in Prāṇāyāma and Contemporary Illuminations from the Vagus Nerve

Join Doug Keller in this special one-off workshop, focused on key aspects of the breath and Prāṇāyāma as envisioned by the tantric innovators of yoga, particularly in the Natha tradition. This will explain and incorporate the physical practices they introduced, including bandha set in proper context, and the deeper purposes of fundamental Prāṇāyāma techniques.

Doug Keller

Workshop Description

Tantra revolutionized Prāṇāyāma as a practice of yoga, introducing terms, concepts, and practices that had not appeared in the ‘Classical’ forms of yoga — and also drew upon ideas such as the Vayus and the role of the nadis that go back to the Upanishads, but were relatively unused and ignored in Classical Yoga.

Prāṇāyāma was reframed and reimagined in a way that integrated mind, emotion, imagination, and interoceptive awareness of the body, coupling that new understanding with practical physical techniques.

Modern, evolving understanding of the nervous system — particularly the autonomic or ‘automatic’ functioning of the nervous system, and the vagus nerve in particular — gives added insight into what these yogis intuited.

The Vagus Nerve, with its central role in ‘self-regulation’ of emotional as well as physiological states in the body as responses to our inner and outer environment, holds an important key to the ‘self-mastery’ that the tantric yogis defined as a goal of yoga practice. The emphasis in yoga on self-mastery is not on ‘control’ in the sense of silencing mind and emotion, but on harnessing their powers in an integrated way, to overcome obstacles and meet life’s challenges in the most fulfilling way possible.

What will be covered in this workshop?

This workshop is meant to identify and clarify these key aspects of the breath and Prāṇāyāma as envisioned (or re-envisioned) by the tantric innovators of yoga, particularly in the Natha tradition. This will explain and incorporate the physical practices they introduced, including bandha set in proper context, and the deeper purposes of fundamental Prāṇāyāma techniques.

Along with this, key insights from the Polyvagal theory will be explained in a way that gives us concrete grounding for the more esoteric descriptions given by the tantric yogis, as well as illuminating and refining the actions such as bandha that facilitate our connection with the ‘nadis’ by which we achieve greater mastery in self-regulation and self-expression of mind, body, and emotion.

What format will the workshop take?

This afternoon workshop is structured to include lecture, Prāṇāyāma practice, and discussion in the last hour. In addition Doug will share pre-recorded videos of pranayama practices with explanation to accompany the workshop.

Additional Material

In addition to the live lecture and its supporting materials, short pre-recorded guided practices of key pranayamas will be provided, that you can work with again and again to realize the full value of this deep dive into the most valuable and yet most often neglected aspects of yoga practice!

Replay

This workshop will be recorded and replay access offered to all students for 21 days after the event.

Certification

You will receive a Yogacampus e-certificate of attendance which details 7.5 CPD hours. The workshop hours are eligible for Yoga Alliance Continuing Education credits.

Meet the Teacher

Doug Keller has been teaching workshops and trainings in the therapeutic applications of yoga for a decade, and is known not only for his effectiveness in communicating this ever-evolving approach in these trainings, but also for his extensive writing on the topic in magazines, journals and his two-volume work on Yoga As Therapy. He is also, in addition to his travelling and teaching, a Distinguished Professor at the Maryland University of Integrative Health in their Master’s Degree programme in Yoga Therapy. This programme is state-approved and accredited for granting a Master’s degree in this field, and is fully accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

Doug has degrees in philosophy from Georgetown and Fordham Universities in the United States, and taught philosophy at college level for several years. He also spent a total of 14 years in Siddha meditation ashrams worldwide. He has produced three highly-respected books on asana, pranayama and yoga philosophy. Doug’s teaching is focused on the yoga of ‘Swatantrya,’ the yoga of one’s own inner expansion and awakening, and is rooted in a vast and inclusive perspective of study and practice that honours the insights of the many streams of wisdom that flow into the river of yoga.

Doug Keller portrait