A week of yoga mornings and afternoon holidays! Yoga in the Heart of the City. Every year since 2010 I have made the get-away with Marlene at YCT: an hour of pranayama followed by an hour and half of asana.
The intent is to open the heart, and the sequences focus on keeping the chest lifted. At the end of the week I feel totally uplifted and renewed.
I do love inversions and backbends, and since the focus was on opening the heart, there were lots in the sequences. We ended the week with forward bends and twists, and found the backbends in those as well.
Each yoga intensive I find myself doing something that surprises and delights me. This morning we had been doing padmasana and then went to headstand variations that included half padmasana, and since I felt like doing a full urdhva padmasana, I did. The pose was really calling to me. I used to do this one as a kid all the time, and it was a bit of time travel for me. Fun, and exhilarating.
That word, 'exhilerating,' I just realized how close it is to exhale. Inhalation and exhalation are the twin building blocks of pranayama, according to Iyengar. We practiced viloma breathing and kumbhaka, focusing first on inhaling and then exhaling, and observing the different affects.
I experienced how focusing and deepening the inhale is energizing, while focusing on the exhale more relaxing.
Notes/ set-ups for future pranayama reference:
- for reclined pranayama: 5 blocks (four flat and one as a pillow)
- for seated pranayma: bolster with a blanket and plank on top, blanket wrapped around ankles for increased comfort + seated on a foam block, with legs through back of metal chair and wrists resting against the chair back