Light on Prana: Cultivating the Subtle Energy of Yoga Practice Course with Demian McKinley
Often we come to yoga practice to improve our health, tone our bodies, or quiet the mind, but the actual mechanisms of how this happens can be difficult to understand. In this course we will examine and experience the flow of prana, or life force, as the core healing energy of yoga practice. Difficult to pin down in concept and experience, the healing and enlivening potential of yoga hinges on the proper application of yogic tools to channel and cultivate prana, which is the foundation of all life. In a step-by-step fashion, we will integrate the tools of yoga and learn more how to be aware of prana and how to cultivate it.
Course space Limited. Confirmation by advanced booking only.
Week 1: Asana and breath - The breath as foundation
Often when we think of yoga practice we think of the physical postures that are common in western practiced yoga. But what do the postures do and what do the prepare us to experience, and how can we practice the postures so that we can have a body that is strong, flexible and open to life experience? Asana practice, in the branch called "hatha yoga" begins with the body and ends with the observation of the mind. In this class we will go over what makes a yoga posture an "asana" and learn to apply the simple principles for ourselves.
Week 2: The Bandhas 1 - Integrating the body
The bandhas balance the body on the physical and energetic level. It realigns both systems, strengthens our body's core, frees the spine and breath, and restores the nervous system to it’s resting state even in the midst of movement and activity. Through their proper use, we can over time, experience a truly balanced physical being. In this class we will learn to properly apply the bandhas, what they feel like, and how to use them in yoga postures and in breathing exercises.
Week 3: Bandhas 2 - Integrating the flow
Building on the previous class, we will further explore the use of the bandhas for building energy in asana, and opening the body into more advanced yoga postures.
Week 4: Asana, bandha, and drishti
To deepen the asana and bandha, we add a 3rd element- drishti or the direction of awareness. This develops intense concentration and helps to balance the nervous system and prepare the body and mind for deeper states of awareness. We focus on a very specific use of awareness,
Week 5: Pranayama
At the heart of yoga is the experience of peace and stillness as well as getting in touch with our true voice and creativity. Pranayama and meditation are two practices that open us to experience our “true self” that spontaneously springs from stillness. We will learn a few simple yet potent breathing practices that help to balance the brain and quiet the mind in preparation for the experience of meditation.
Week 6: Meditation Focus
We will take a closer look at Meditation as an experience, one that we prepare for through the practices of asana and pranayama. What is necessary to make it effective and useful?
Week 7: Learning and education - Yoga Texts --- fuel for our fire ---
For this class we will do a shorter yoga practice using the elements that we’ve learned so far, and then look some of the main Sutras of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and how they are “fuel for our fire” so to speak and encourage us to practice and what to expect from a sustained and attentive yoga practice. Since yoga is a documented science, using ancient scripture can give us insight and deepen our reasons for practicing.
Week 8: Mudra
Mudras are energetic locks and positions of the body and hands that create new flows of energy through the body and mind. We can alter our states of consciousness through their use, open yoga postures. In this class we'll take a look at how mudras are used, and how and when to apply them.
Week 9: Chanting/Mantra/Kirtan
A very celebratory class, chanting in Yoga can be a powerful catalyst for change in people- even the sheer pleasure of chanting and singing can create tremendous results in quieting the mind and opening the heart. We'll learn some basic Mantras and do a little Kirtan in this class to experience the "Bhakti" or devotional element of yoga practice.
Week 10: Integration 1 - Opening the body and mind
The final 3 classes are devoted to integrating what we’ve learned so far and applying it in a structured and flowing class. In integration 1, we will build the energy through chanting and pranayama, channel and distribute that energy using asana, and finally end with more subtle awareness exercises and finally meditation- finding the inner witnessing state.
Week 11: Integration 2 - Inversions and advanced asana
This integration class will be devoted to using the tools of yoga to open work toward mastery in the more difficult yoga postures.
Week 12: Integration 3 - Inviting inner peace
The yoga practice creates a tangible point of reference in ourselves of peace- a quiet contentedness and perspective that no matter what is going on outside, we can choose to keep a calm and balanced disposition. This class is structured to bring us into that still point experience, and just as we train other aspects of ourselves, inner peace is also something that can be cultivated and expressed.