Jason Birch & Jacqueline Hargreaves: Hatha Yoga: An Integrated Practice
If you desire abundant vitality and the strength to embrace all that life may offer, the practice of Hatha Yoga is a priceless jewel, for it teaches us that the mind and spirit can be shaped by directly shaping the body. The connections are irrefutable; physical stillness is mental equipoise; strength is courage and lightness is joy. This workshop aims to present the full scope of Hatha Yoga, as described in the ancient texts, laying the foundations with cleansing practices (kriyas) and postures (asana), and deepening the experience by introducing breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dhyana). The material will culminate to form a complete practice, which may be varied according to individual needs and circumstances, to bring about profound transformation.
Weekend 1: KRIYAS Cleansing the Body Pure
Explore the traditional cleansing practices (Kriyas) of Hatha Yoga. This weekend will include an overview of the 6 cleansing practices as described in the main Hatha Yoga Texts; a demonstration of Jala Neti, Sutra Neti and Danda Dhauti; and step-by-step instruction on the practice of Trataka, Kapalabhati and Nauli (with many variations). Traditionally, the Kriyas were taught before Asanas, to those who suffered excessive phlegm (i.e. Kapha imbalances) and fat. The Kriyas are particularly useful for certain sinus, throat, eye, stomach, lung and digestive tract problems. They make the body shine from within!
– Saturday August 2: 08:00-10:30
- Overview, Historical Context and Demonstration of the Kriyas
- Learn the practice of Kapalabhati and Uddiyana for cleansing and strengthening the respiratory and digestive systems
- Examining the results of recent scientific research into the Kriyas
– Sunday August 3: 08:00-10:30
- Discussion on how to devise a Kriya Practice for specific needs
- Develop the practice of Kapalabhati, Uddiyana and Nauli (with variations)
- Learn the practice of Trataka (gazing at a fixed point) to cleanse the eyes and throat
Weekend 2: KRIYAS + ASANA Strengthening the Body
Kriyas (cleansing practices) and Asana (postures) will be combined to form a practice to improve your overall health and vitality. In the first session, we create a strong sense of lightness and openness in the body using an integrated practice of Kapalabhati and Nauli, followed by a dynamic practice of Standing Poses, Arm Balancing and Inversions. In the second session, we will strengthen the body’s earth element making it still, steady and calm using a Yin Yoga practice that will leave the body feeling rejuvenated. The combined effect of both the Yang (dynamic) and Yin (static) practices will be an enlightened and steady the body.
– Saturday August 9: 08:00-10:30
Yang (dynamic) Asana
- The practice of Kapalabhati and Nauli will be used to quickly and effectively heat the body in preparation for asana
- Challenge and strengthen the body with a dynamic practice of Standing Poses, Arm Balancing and Inversions
– Sunday August 10: 08:00-10:30
Yin (static) Asana
- A series of floor poses will be held in stillness to learn how the body responds to a static practice; demonstrating that an asana practice need not be 'hard and fast' to be effective in transforming the body and mind.
- Long hold poses will strengthen the body’s earth element making it still, steady and calm, and induce the natural healing response
Weekend 3: KRIYAS + ASANA + PRANAYAMA Balancing the Nervous System
Pranayama (breathing exercises) are integral to the practice of the ancient art of Hatha Yoga. It purifies the pathways of vitality in the body and balances the breath in the left and right nostrils. To balance the nervous system in this way induces relaxation and equanimity. Over this weekend, we will focus on various Pranayama techniques and how they may be used for different effects.
– Saturday August 16: 08:00-10:30
Healing and Cooling
- Dynamic Kriyas (cleansing practices) and Asanas (postures) will heat the body, clearing the pathways of vitality in preparation for Pranayama
- The balancing Pranayama called Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) will be used to balance the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems
- The cooling Pranayama called Shitali (breathing through a curled tongue) will be used to cool the body and induce a deep state of relaxation
– Sunday August 17: 08:00-10:30
Softning and Opening
- A different combination of these Kriyas and Pranayama practices will be used to demonstrate how they can prepare body for the practice of Asanas.
- Dynamic Kriyas and the heating Pranayama of Bhastrika (bellows breath) and Khumbhakas (breath retentions) will be used to induce the parasympathetic nervous system providing a deep sense of relaxation, softening and opening the body.
- A guided relaxation practice will be conducted between the Pranayama and Asana components of the class.
Weekend 4: KRIYAS + ASANA + PRANAYAMA + MEDITATION Mastering the Mind
Develop your gift of seeing clearly and feeling deeply! Meditation is the jewel of Hatha Yoga. This module will focus on the fundamental instructions for practicing Meditation - posture, breath and technique. We will investigate the Hatha Yoga techniques most helpful for settling the body, breath and mind in preparation for Meditation. You will develop an understanding of the various ways that Kriyas (cleansing practices), Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing exercises) can be used to support a Meditation practice. Touch the earth with a steady hand and open heart.
– Saturday August 23: 08:00-10:30
- The foundations of Meditation - posture, breath and technique
- Investigate the Hatha Yoga techniques most helpful for settling the body, breath and mind
- Discussion on the applications of Meditation and its benefits
– Sunday August 24: 08:00-10:30
- The fundamentals of Meditation will be enhanced by practices from other traditions, such as walking meditation, Yoga Nidra and Chi Gung
- Periods of formal sitting will be interspersed by these other practices, to lead us to a final meditation of complete, here and now.
Weekend 5: KRIYAS + ASANA + PRANAYAMA + MEDITATION The Integrated Practice of Hatha Yoga
Let’s pull it all together in an integrated practice of Hatha Yoga. The final module will draw on the material taught in the previous modules, to create a complete practice. The aim will be to sit in meditation at the end of each session with the body as steady as the earth and the mind as open as the sky!
– Saturday August 30: 08:00-10:30
- Yoga, yoga, yoga!
– Sunday August 31: 08:00-10:30
Guess what? More yoga, yoga and yoga!