Watch a cat closely and you will see that it periodically stretches its spine upwards and downwards. Marjariasana imitates this action, and though it is very simple, it is useful in ensuring the best possible health of the practitioner. It is also very beneficial for the whole body, particularly the back and abdomen. The nerves in the spinal cord, as well as the internal organs of digestion, are stretched, massaged, and revitalized.
In the following blog post, you will find:
If you're reading this in your email box, then as always when there are videos, I highly recommend you view this post on your browser instead :) ~ Ashley
OoOoO Look! I Share Some Extra Tips & Benefits
Let's review the breathing/pranayama portion of our Kriya Yoga program before we move on to the second lesson! :) I'm amazed at the progress I've made so far with this book. I literally feel like I am participating in my own yoga training. How do you feel about it? Feel free to comment and let me know :)
Below, you will find either a link (for email subscribers) or an audio tool (for web viewers). The audio includes our first pranayama practice! In the first half (1:00-18:00) of the recording, I take a moment to read the portion of the chapter that discusses the following important pieces of information:
- A review on breathing capacities
- Why slow breathing?
- The mechanics of breathing
- Different methods of breathing
- Preparations necessary for Yogic Breathing
Then lastly, I lead an exploration into what it means to really breathe. We break down what it means to experience abdominal breathing, middle breathing, upper breathing and finally, yogic breathing. Please feel free to skip the first half if you like, but once you get to the descriptions of the different methods of breathing, I suggest a careful listen. Sometimes these lectures have so much wonderful information and context, so if you do happen to skip the first part but are left wondering if you missed something, then perhaps give it a full listen.
The deep systematic yogic breathing will tend to retrain breathing nerve reflexes that may have ceased to be active by lack of use. In other words, at present you might be breathing only from the chest, hardly using the abdomen at all. Yogic breathing will start to make you breathe abdominally, intercostally and clavicularly during the day, and therefore, allow you to inhale the full amount of air that your body requires for nourishment and good health.
To develop the yogic breathing as an automatic and normal function of the body, try to develop the habit of consciously breathing yogically for a few seconds or minutes. If you feel tired or angry, sit down, or if possible lie down, and practice yogic breathing. If you can breathe slowly then your mind will become calm and revitalized.
Please, let me know if you practiced the recommended five Yogic breaths to start and how it made you feel. And don't forget, tomorrow, add two more breaths and so on. ~ Ashley
What Are We Going to Do Next?
Saraswati, Satyananda. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Yoga Publications Trust, 2013.
[It's] an invitation to use the life-changing process you are living right now as an opportunity for self-discovery, inner growth, and transformation. After all, you are living through the most transformative period in the adult life cycle, and your life – and the life of your partner – will never again be the same. So why not learn as much as you can from the process. (5)
So how do we go about using this book? I think that, for the most part, I’ll share information about how the mind directly affects the physiology of labor and how the capacity to be in the present moment can be a critical skill for giving birth. We’ll learn ways to work with pain during labor, for most women in the process of giving birth, whether they intend to use pain medication or not, will experience some powerfully intense physical sensations we usually call pain. We’ll also explore helpful positions for laboring and birthing, partner skills for supporting the pregnant woman through the birth process, breastfeeding basics, and how to manage the physical and emotional needs of the postpartum family. Partners may be coming to understand that they themselves need these mindfulness skills, for they too will be having a birth experience and becoming a parent
[And so what if you’re not a woman or not having a baby.] It’s just that now, the present moment is where your life actually takes place; it’s the only time you have to learn, to grow, and to be fully alive. If you are constantly rehearsing for the future or rehashing the past, you’re missing this moment of your life, which is the only moment you ever really have. (11)
The Foundational Attitudes of a Mindfulness Practice
But then BAM. Coronavirus got even more serious and now I'm having to host our private yoga classes online via Facetime. As a result though, I had all this extra time, so I kept on reading.
My Yoga Handbook
“It is a complete work on yoga – a complete course in the practices of integral yoga. It presents a synthesis of the various paths of yoga in a scientific and systematic manner to ensure the harmonious development and unfoldment of every aspect of the individual… [They] have tried to present the book in such a way as to lead one gradually and progressively through the practices as if learning directly from a devoted teacher. If your approach is sincere and you follow your program regularly, the benefits will unfold themselves into all the different aspects of your life” (1).
“There are three main parts, divided into thirty-six lessons, containing various topics on both the theoretical and practical aspects of yoga, and eventually a full exposition of the ancient system of yoga. The first book of practices for beginners is intended to systematically prepare the mind and body for the more advanced practices in Book II and eventually to the higher practices of kriya yoga in Book III. The ultimate aim is to progressively lead you step by step through the different techniques so that by the end of this sadhana course, you will have an integrated approach and a full theoretical understanding of kriya yoga, as well as many other facets of yoga” (1).
So…. Little by little, let’s build that yoga program together. Hold each other accountable. Learn a little here and a little there.
I wish you joy in your reflections and your journey.
What is Mindfulness?
More on this next time, too.
 Jon Kabat-Zinn, Coming to Our Senses (New York: Hyperion, 2005), 108.
For Further Reading Preparation...
Should You Practice Yoga? Why?
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley
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