Why is breath control so important in yoga?

Yoga is derived from the word “YUJ” in Sanskrit which means to join / to unite.  The union envisaged is that of mind and body.  The breath is the key to uniting the mind with the body.  By synchronising each inhalation or each exhalation with each and every movement in yoga asanas the body and mind are united.  The mind has a wondering tendency, so it is easy to lose focus (and thus fail to stay untied).  It is easy to start thinking about the past or start planning for the future; it is therefore all too easy for the mind to leave the body. By focusing on the breath and joining this breath with movement you stay firmly in the present; the here and now.

The breath develops the amount of energy in a person.  If a person gets easily tired and/or has generally low energy levels, then yogic thinking suggests that this is due to a loss of prana vaaya (oxygen) supporting the body to remain active.

If a person forces the breath in yoga asanas then such rapid breathing will create a vacuum effect in the lungs and the actual intake of air will be less.  In such circumstances, that person will tire quickly and become demotivated.  It is therefore important to breathe both naturally and fully.

Prana Vashya Yoga considers the breath as the key channel in directing consciousness towards the pranaPrana is life and living refers to being present; not just physically but consciously.  Through control of breath in yoga a person can develop a healthy mind and body.  Such good health is a pre-requisite for understanding the Self.   So we work to increase our awareness and to develop control over mind and body.

Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga.  Damian will be opening a Yoga School at 250 Queens Road, Leicester, LE2 3FU in February 2017.  Spaces will be limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com  Tel: 0777 900 1896

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How Prana Vashya Yoga benefits mind and physiology

Prana Vashya means breath control.    Prana is the life force that provides the body with energy.  Vashya means control and it signifies the voluntary effort to control and direct this prana.  Controlling your breath can have massive benefits for both body and mind. The breath is the bridge between mind and body.  In modern life there are too many distractions / too many things going on to think about and the natural breath (and behaviors) are lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  The breath can bring us back to ourselves; to the present moment.

Only yoga exercises the lungs in more than one dimension.  There are at least five separate dimensions to lung mobility.  The first is the anterior dimension; the way your chest ordinarily rises and falls as you breathe.  This anterior movement of the lungs is the same movement utilised when exercising, sleeping, and in general.  But the lungs can be trained to move in all five dimensions with a regular practice of Prana Vashya yoga.  In fact, only yogi’s can “breathe into their backs”.  This is because certain yoga asana (postures) within the Prana Vashya series compress the anterior line of the body, forcing the ribs and intercostals to move in a posterior dimension.  The practitioner continues to breathe calmly whilst in each position, which soon trains the lungs to move in this posterior dimension.   In a similar way, certain other yoga asana within the Prana Vashya series compress other parts of the body (and use the influence of gravity) to force the lungs to breath in a sideways dimension.  Certain other yoga asana also force the diaphragm to do all the work (in a downwards dimension).  In addition, lung mobility can be localised, forcing just one lung to work at a time or for some other specific part of the body to do the work.

Breathing itself is only a semi-voluntary process.  You can control breathing through your conscious effort but your subconscious regulates your breathing for most of the time (whilst your conscious mind is elsewhere).  Thus bad breathing habits (which we have all developed over time and which most of us are completely unaware of) are stored in our subconscious mind.  Re-programming the subconscious mind with good/ natural breathing habits is a primary goal of yoga. Prana Vashya yoga is an effective means of re-programming the subconscious mind with good breathing habits.

The arrangement and sequence of each asana within the Prana Vashya series are designed to increase lung mobility by working the lungs in all five dimensions of lung mobility.  Additional lung mobility increases cleanliness in the lungs, which heightens the overall intake of oxygen, promotes better circulation of more pure blood and which strengthens the bronchial muscles.  The more oxygen a person can utilise, the calmer a person will be as their capacity to resist stress will increase.  This is because yoga asana is an imbalance on the mind / a stressful situation for the human brain.  When the pattern of breath changes from one asana to another but the brain has to remain calm this is good programming which Prana Vashya supports.  This teaches the mind to remain calm in the face of adversity.  It also ensures more oxygen gets to the right place when needed (and muscles groups that are independently worked in yoga asana benefit from increased tone).

A Prana Vashya yoga school will open in February 2017 in Leicester at: 250 Queens Road LE2 3FU.  Spaces will be limited (first come; first served) so please register your interest with Damian: damiancadmanjones@gmail.com  tel: 0777-900-1896 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/queensroadyoga/

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Damian Cadman-Jones

In December 2016, I completed the grueling 500 hour teacher training course at the Prana Vashya Yoga Shala in Mysore, South India, under Master Yogacharya Vinay Kumar (pictured below).  I am convinced, after much searching, that I have found a style of yoga that works for me and could massively benefit others.

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Despite years of practice of yoga asana both in India and in the UK, I was almost overwhelmed by the intensity of the Prana Vashya teacher training course.  The day would begin at 3 am.  This was the only time one could sensibly squeeze in some self-practice / homework (as will be be explained).  The first two hour asana class began at 5 am; immediately followed by the second two hour class at 7 am.  After a 10 minute break, there was chanting and pranayama (breathing exercises) for little over an hour.  After another 10 minute break came the theory class for an hour or two.  Every practitioner was expected to fast until the end of the classes (so no food or water for the first 8 or 9 hours of the day).  In addition, everything said during the theory class had to be memorised and then written up each day as homework (to be handed in and later assessed).  It would often take me between 4 and 6 hours to write up these notes each night.  Finally, there was the practical side of the homework: new adjustments or postures to master by the next day.

One  of the students on the Prana Vashya teacher training course was a clinical pharmacist (with 2 degrees in clinical pharmacy).  He remarked to me that he learnt more in one day on the Prana Vashya teacher training course about anatomy, than he learnt about the same in all the time he was at university.  We certainly looked at things in detail!

Ultimately, only 3 people passed this years’ Prana Vashya teacher training course.  I won best student.

Prana Vashya Yoga is a fairly intense / dynamic style of yoga that can be practiced by almost anyone.  There are numerous variations to each asana which cater for all levels of yoga practitioner from beginner to advanced levels.

I will be converting my home into a yoga shala.  I expect to open the Prana Vashya yoga school at 250 Queens Road Leicester LE2 3FU in February 2017.  I will run a whole range of class times (including before and after usual work hours).  This will be the first Prana Vashya yoga shala in England.  My mission is to share this amazing yoga practice with anyone who is serious about improving themselves.   Spaces at the yoga school will be limited so please drop me an email to register your interest (first come; first served) : damiancadmanjones@gmail.com