Asana and Pranayama, plus Discourses

Notes from the 2011 Yoga Shibir given by Swamiji Asanganand Saraswati. (Any errors or omissions are mine, and mine alone.)

Originally published 2011


  • Yoga 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”.

Friday Evening

  • Yog, Pranayam, Meditation: Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) MP3: Hindi
  • Discourse: Bagawat Geeta (aka Bagavad Gita) and Yoga MP3: Hindi

Saturday Morning

Yog, Pranayam, Meditation: Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), Digestive Series

MP3: Hindi: 1, 2 (starts with the mantra used during the practice), 3

  • Digestive Series
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 side.
    5. 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 there!)
  • Digestive Series (when, additional instruction)
    (The remaining notes come from the Saturday evening session.)

    • 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 effect.
    • 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 asanas.
    • Add a little salt to the water for maximum effect.
  • “Mini” Intestinal Cleanse
    • There is a “Maxi” cleanse that requires supervision. This one can be done without:
      • 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

Saturday Evening

Yog, Pranayam, Meditation: Asana & Pranayam

MP3: Hindi

  • 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 the form.
    • 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 the Yog.)
    • This one series works 90% of the body. (Add some spinal twists, and you have 100%)
  • 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 reverse.
    • 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.
  • Pranayam
    • There are 5 basic pranayams that are foundation for all others. Swamiji taught 3 of them in this session.
    • General instrutions: Sit in Sukasana (easy pose). (I suspect you could also sit in Padmasana, 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

Sunday Morning

  • Yog, Pranayam, Meditation: Surya Namaskar & Digestive Series Review, Back Series
    MP3: Hindi
  • Discourse: Yog and Diet MP3: Hindi
  • Q & A. MP3: Hindi
  • Finish. MP3: Hindi

Sunday Afternoon

  • Discourse: Yog and Bhakti MP3: Hindi 1 (most of it), 2 (tail end)
  • Meeting with Teachers (barely audible) MP3: Hindi

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