Yoga, Ayurveda and acro yoga in Budapest - classes, philosophy also in English

2012. február 18., szombat

Change is closer than you think – my easy breathing in India

This is my second time in India. Previously, I had been through it all: the hot weather, the noise, the pollution, the turmoil, the cows, the tough yoga teachers, harsh conditions, discipline and determination. Here your awareness always has to be high, on the road, on the streets, just in everyday being.
I know that here you can never lie back and say, oh I have seen it all, and now I am used to it. India is the place that will always put you to a test. Change and surprises are the only thing you can take for granted.
For example, this time my stay started so smoothly: friends were welcoming at the airport, guiding us in Delhi. We had great time and great meals together. I started to wonder, how come things were so easy this time. Arriving to India always brings its challenges. Once I thought of it, in a day we had it: we missed our flight and had to buy a last minute ticket from Delhi to Bangalore. I was nervous and felt terribly helpless. But I had to adjust quickly to the situation. Panicking and having a nervous breakdown are luxury in a truly critical situation.

The same way, I am also an advanced practitioner, I am also used to the discipline and determination needed for the practice. I can tolerate pain quite well and I am accustomed to the harsh Indian methods of teaching.

But you can always be surprised.  
I started my teacher’s training with Vinay Kumar. Prana Vashya is a system said to be harder than Ashtanga yoga. And the rumours might actually be true, it is a very hard practice. Breathing is the key in this practice, you have a very special breathing „coreography” for the sequence that you should stick to otherwise you can easily loose your breath and be just unable to keep the focus to do the very advanced positions. If you loose your breath, you loose your awareness and you will find yourself rushing into the positions risking even injuries. So this practice requires a lot of patience and focus, more than any other practice I have done so far. But the teacher is so encouraging. Vinay is a very traditional master, so he is very demanding, but also very kind. I feel like I want to please him and I want to do my best. For me kind but serious is more helpful than a harsh and „ego-beating” approach. I had enough of that, but now I know that I have never been working so hard in Yoga. He is really pushing me to my limits. At the moment I feel so determined and so physically challenged like a top athlete preparing for the Olympics.

But I never though that besides this hard physical practice, the Pranayama class will be the hardest for me. After the second class I felt terrible. I could tolerate the pain in my limbs from sitting, the tormenting backache, the tiredness in the arms from holding them so long to block the nostrils, but there was once thing I could not accept: being breathless. I was suffocated, and I wondered how all the other people were able to sit there calmly for about an hour and a half and how could they follow Vinay’s slow counts. It was just killing me.

I knew that last time I was here, by the end of the sixth month I Iearned how  to sit silently with no movements for about 45 minutes.  So I did not really understand why pranayama proved to be so difficult this time. I was practising pranayama at home too, but never longer than about 20 minutes, and here I was asked to do immediately more than double of this lenght of time and on much much slower counts.
I went to Vinay and I told him about my suffocating experience. He just smiled and said: ”Yes,because you are trying to breathe through the nostrils instead of wathching the breath at the abdomen.”  He also added that Pranayama had to be hard otherwise there would be no results, one had to train the nerves by demanding more and more from them, that was the only way to make them strong.

I was not sure if I understood but, I tried to apply this information in next day’s practice. I just moved my awareness to the abdomen and thought of controlling the breath from there. And it worked like a wonder. I could breathe properly, very slowly, and even keep the kumbakas, the breath locks. As I was leaving the room after practice, Vinay stopped me: „Today, you had a deep practice.”
Yes, indeed. I did not think change was possible in this area, and so quickly.

Pranayama, and prana based yoga practice are also based on patience and focus. If you keep your mind strong it will work wonders… and pretty fast.
Now, I think that since yoga is about Transformation, and going beyong the body and the mind to become one with the all, we do need hard and challenging practices otherwise we will never be able to go beyong our mental limitations and misbeliefs. And the funny thing is that all this hard work seems only hard until we have not realized how easy they could be if they were done with surrender and patience. Once we calm the mind and just allow the breath to work, it will show the way and let it happen. 

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