Asana and Pranayama
Notes from the 2011 Yoga Shibir given by
Swamiji Asanganand Saraswati. (Any errors or omissions are mine, and mine
Shibir with Swamiji Asanganand Saraswati (zip of MP3s, in Hindi)
Marvelous Yoga Shibir (instructional seminar) from a student/devotee/disciple
of the great Shivananda Saraswati, (Another devotee, Satyananda
Saraswati, founded the Bihar School
of Yoga and authored of some of the best and most comprehensive books
on Yoga available in the West). This session (in Hindi) was promoted by Yoga
Bharti and recorded. (Fortunately, people helped me understand during
the sessions.) As people give me translations--or I learn enough to make
my own--I will post them here.
Many thanks to Manesh and Ram for translating things during several of the
sessions. Any many thanks to Tushar Pandya for his help with translations
afterward! Each time, it is like being in Swamiji's wonderful presence once
again, only deeper! Namaste!
To learn more: Swamiji has a school (near the southwest coast
of India, I think). (The announcement was sent by email, and so far I
have been unable to find any contact links other than those given above.)
- Each session started with a series of invocations to create the
conditions for learning to happen. (If there is no teacher, there
can be no learning. If the conditions are not right, there can
be no learning. But if the conditions are right, and the student
is fully present with the teacher, the teacher channels the knowledge
and transmission flows.)
- Om x 3: 1 each for inner being, outer environment,
and the Divine.
(If we're not in health, we can't learn. If there is cold
or noise, we can't learn,...)
- 2 Sutras: A generic from Maharashi Pantanjali, and
one specific to the sessions
- Pronunciation: ma-HAH-ree-she pa-TAN-ja-lee. (In
English we accent the next syllable of each word. But
that's not the native pronunciation.)
- Addl Note: "Yog" and "Pranayam"
have no final "a", when spoken
- Meaning: Maha-great, Rishi-teacher, seer. Pantanjali-author
of the Hatha Yoga Sutras.
- Shanti Mantra: Divine eace of the heart, of the spirit,
of the mind, ...
- Shanti, Shanti, Shanti: One "shanti" for
inner being, outer environment, & the Divine.
- Om: "Done".
- Yog, Pranayam, Meditation: Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) MP3: Hindi
- Discourse: Bagawat Geeta (aka Bagavad Gita) and Yoga MP3: Hindi
Yog, Pranayam, Meditation: Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation),
MP3: Hindi: 1, 2 (starts
with the mantra used during the practice), 3
- Digestive Series
- Stretch up: Clasp hands on head. Turn
palms upward as you stretch them overhead, rising
on toes. Inhale as you rise, exhale as you come
back down. Do it twice. Hands back to top of
head at finish.
- Stretch to side: Clasp hands on
head. Palms up, hands overhead, inhale
as you bend to left, exhale back to center.
Twice each side. Hands back to top of head.
- Standing Twist: Right palm to
left shoulder, back of left hand behind
to right kidney. Inhale as you twist left.
Exhale back to center. Twice each side.
- Twisting Cobra: Lie on stomach,
hands under shoulders, palms on the ground.
Keep toes together, heels apart, relaxed
throughout the asana. Inhale as you rise,
minimal support from arms. Retain breath
as you twist spine and neck to left, looking
over shoulder to right heel, and back to
center. Exhale as you lower. Twice each
- Twisting Squat: Squat on heels,
hands on knees. Inhale as you twist right
knee to left, bringing it to the ground.
Inhale back to squatting position. Twice
each side. Rise. (Good exercise, right
- Digestive Series (when, additional instruction)
(The remaining notes come from the Saturday evening
- Digestion is the foundation of health. The
digestive series improves the function of the
intestinal tract, starting at the top and working
down to the bottom.
- Do the series in the order given, for best
- Don't brush teeth or rinse immediately after
rising. Reason: The stomach becomes acidic
in the night, but the night becomes alkaline.
So the tradition goes, you get sick at night,
but the gods put a healing pill in your mouth.
All you have to do is swallow!
- Best approach, take a glass of water after
rising, and immediately do the Digestive Series.
Then brush or rinse, take shower, and do other
- Add a little salt to the water for maximum
- "Mini" Intestinal Cleanse
- There is a "Maxi" cleanse that
requires supervision. This one can be done
- Drink 2 or 3 glasses of water with
a little bit of salt.
- Do the Digestive Series 3 or 4 times.
- Repeat the sequence three times.
- (When you're ready, go to the bathroom.
After, your entire digestive tract will
be clean as a whistle!)
- Discourse: Yog and Relaxation, Importance of Relaxation
MP3: Hindi 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Yog, Pranayam, Meditation: Asana &
- Asanas & Pranayam (4 basics):
These are necessary ingredients for every practice:
- Mechanics: Posture, performance, form.
- Breathing: Deeply, fully, aligned
with the body. (Bending forward, pressure on
the stomach makes you want to exhale. Do that!
Bending backward, it's easiest to inhale.)
- Intent: Positive purpose, goal. The meaning of
- Focus: Concentration, awareness, presence.
- Surya Namaskar (when/what):
- Ideally done in the morning, when you
get up. (Can be done anytime.)
- Best done on an empty stomach (45 min.
after tea, 1-1/2 hrs after a light breakfast,
4 hrs. after a heavy meal)
- Can be complement any form of exercise,
but leave a 15-20 min. gap between them.
(And nothing ever substitutes for
- This one series works 90% of the body.
(Add some spinal twists, and you have
- Surya Namaskar (three phases):
All three phases are necessary for a complete practice:
- Invocation: Stand in tadasana (mountain pose,
feet together, straight), hands in prayer position, knuckes
of the thumbs at the indentation of the chest. Close eyes.
Recognize that the source of all energy and all life in
this solar system is the sun. Everything comes from the
sun! Every leaf, every animal. Even the winds, tornadoes,
and hurricanes come from the action of the sun. (The waves,
in turn, come from the winds.)
Note: The motion of the tides,
on the other hand, comes from the moon!
I believe that agitation of the promoridal
soup, coupled with a jupiter-sized asteroid
collector (along with the moon), were
necessary, along with being in a region
around the sun that is warm enough for
water! But the energy of life--that
is all the sun.
- Asana: Do the series of poses, intoning
the names of the sun before each one.
- Meditation: Sit. Close eyes. Calm
the breath. Visualize the sun rising between
your eyebrows. Feel/see the light entering
your head, filling your head, filling all parts
of your head, then your shoulders, your chest,
your torso. Your arms, your hands, then each
leg and foot, in turn. Feel the sunlight cleansing
every aspect of your being. Feel the impurities
being expelled with each exhalation.
- Anti-Gastric Series
- Leg Lifts: Lie on back. Lift one leg
slightly. Rotate in a circle 2 times, then
back the other direction. Inhale as the leg
rises, exhale as it returns. Do the other leg,
then both legs.
- Bicycling: Lie on back. Bicycle
slowly in forward direction, then in
- Pavan Muktasa (spelling?): Lie
on back. Inhale as you bring one knee
to chest, pulling in on knee with arms.
Exhale as you bring nose to touch knee.
Inhale as you lower head. Exhale as you
straighten leg. Twice each side. Then
twice with both legs together.
- Shoasan (spelling?): Lie on
back, arms out to sides, palms up. Legs
apart, feet splayed. Totally relax.
- There are 5 basic pranayams that are foundation
for all others. Swamiji taught 3 of them in
- General instrutions: Sit in Sukasana (easy
pose). (I suspect you could also sit
Lotus pose, were you able, or any pose
in between that is comfortable enough
to hold for a long time, so it isn't
distracting.) Always sit quietly for
a few moments between pranayams!
- Nadi Shodahan (Alternate Nostril): Index
and middle fingers curl into palm. Thumb
on one side of nose, last two fingers
on the other. Close right nostril, inhale
left. Close left nostril, exhale right.
Then inhale right, exhale left. That's
one round. Do 6 or 7 rounds. Chant SoHm
during the practice. ("So" on
inhale, "Hm" on exhale.) Variations: Number
of repetitions, speed of the practice.
- Pahstrika (spelling?): Fast
inhale and exhale, from the chest. Arms
up, hands open, as you inhale. Hands
down to shoulders and closing in a fist,
as you exahle. Both movements explosive.
10 at a time. 7 fast, then 3 slowing
down equals one round. "It
empties the mind. Between rounds, sit
quietly and bask in the emptiness."
- Kapalpati (spelling?): Hands
on knees. Short, explosive exhalations
from the abdomen/diaphragm. To get the
feeling, hold one fist with the other
hand, and press rapidly into your stomach
as you exhale.
- Discourse: Yog, Spirituality, and Society MP3: Hindi
- Yog, Pranayam, Meditation: Surya Namaskar & Digestive
Series Review, Back Series
- Discourse: Yog and Diet MP3: Hindi
- Q & A. MP3: Hindi
- Finish. MP3: Hindi
- Discourse: Yog and Bhakti MP3: Hindi 1 (most
of it), 2 (tail
- Meeting with Teachers (barely audible) MP3: Hindi
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