Yogacampus are delighted to invite Doug Keller back to teach a 2 day workshop on Pranayama is More than Breath. We caught up with Doug to chat about what the workshop will entail and how it will go way beyond the usual practical details and practice of pranayama.
Your 2 day workshop is entitled ‘Pranayama is More than Breath’ – in what way do pranayama practices extend beyond the breath?
While this workshop will contain practical details and practice of pranayama, it will go far beyond that.
Pranayama consists of more than simply technical details of how to do particular techniques: it is a full body experience of the breath and of Prana meant to immerse you in the experience of your own true nature as consciousness.
What will the workshop consist of?
This workshop will contain very practical and helpful biomechanical experience and understanding that is essential to benefitting from the practice — especially concerning the sacrum and pelvic floor as well as the neck, shoulders and upper body.
How does a deeper understanding of the anatomy contribute to a pranayama practice?
These user-friendly insights lend a deeper understanding and experience of the bandhas and the breath. This is essential not just to a fuller experience of pranayama, but to dealing practically with pain problems that are intimately connected to breathing disorders.
What will the approach include?
Our approach to this will include some asana to help us understand these actions, while greater emphasis will be upon the pranayama practices themselves. This will definitely be news you can use in every aspect of your yoga.
Will the training be mainly biomechanic or will it go in to more history and philosophy also?
And beyond the practical biomechanics, we will go more deeply into the evolution of the tradition of pranayama. Of all of the terms that spanned the history of yoga, the idea of prana and related ideas such as the vayus have undergone the most evolution, and became increasingly vital and intrinsic to the practice of yoga and of Hatha yoga in particular.
How did the rise of Hatha yoga play an influence on this?
The Hatha Yoga tradition attempted to strike a balance between the physical techniques developed by the more ascetic traditions of the yogis, and the deeper layers of feeling, imagination, energetics — and the cultivation of the ‘mantra body’ and Yoga Nidra — developed among the more tantric-oriented yogis. The ideas they incorporated into the practice were meant to take us much deeper than can be reached by physical techniques — and can also be seen as approaches to the breath that were more body-friendly than the ascetics emphasis upon extended kumbhak or breath retention.
What were these ideas focused on and where did they lead to?
These were ideas focused upon installing the experience of the prana in the body, moving prana through ‘marmas’ or vital points to enter deeper states, as well as of unravelling “knots” or obstacles called ‘granthis,’ as well as of course ideas of chakras, and other ways of conceiving and experiencing energetic locations in the body. These approaches lead naturally and spontaneously to Yoga Nidra and deep and healing meditation. They bring us to a realm of breath awareness rich with possibility for work on deeper mental and emotional levels.