Sadhana, Dharma and Almond Croissants…
Posted by Katie Brown, 07-Sep-2020
If you feel in need of a practice which honours inner reflection (and gives you a day off for almond croissants), then check out the IYTA’s Meditation and Pranayama course
There are a multitude of yoga courses which claim to be fast-track and offering quick qualifications. But the Meditation and Pranayama course run by David Burgess for the IYTA is the exact opposite of a short dip-in course.
It is a lived experience – which will take around a year of regular practice – and one which will nurture your learning on many levels.
The course is online and presented in a week-by-week format with specific practices, recommended reading and self-assessment quizzes. It also involves regular journaling with ongoing support and feedback from David. For many students this incremental development (and David’s ongoing feedback) is the real strength of this course.
David (who has been teaching yoga for the best part of 50 years) says six days of practise a week is optimal and then take the seventh day off. “The recommendation is that you don’t practise” he says: “To prove to both yourself and those you love that you are not a fanatic!”
He goes on to say in the words of Charles Dickens that on this day “spend a good portion of it in a state of amiable dissipation and do so with unbounded license!”: sleep in and have an almond croissant for breakfast and a second cup of tea, go for a stroll, spend quality time with family and friends, read a non-relevant book…..
And he adds if you don’t have time for this day then the chances are you will struggle finding time on the other days for sadhana.” I am so very busy,” is rarely a useful sankalpa,” he adds with a wry grin.
So, if you feel you are ready to commit to this course – and David stresses, that knowing when to commit is a skill in itself! If you have children and/or a mortgage then the branches of Karma, Bhakti and Gyana Yoga might take priority for now.
But if you are ready to explore yoga beyond the asana – and you don’t have a myriad of commitments – then this could be the perfect time…
The online course is broken into three terms. With the pranayama component the first term is dedicated to a category of practices known as Prana Nigraha. These are the foundational breathing practices upon which the classical pranayamas are built.
The Prana Nigraha practices develop heightened breath awareness and sensitivity, breath control and expanded breath capacity, these are all prerequisite to accurate and safe performance of the pranayamas.
David says: “Many of us these days have lost our natural pattern of breathing and need to attend to this before moving into the classical techniques.”
The subsequent pranayamas fall into three categories: Balancing e.g. Nadi Shodhana, Tranquilising e.g. Ujjayi, Bhramari, Sheetali and Vitalising e.g. Swarna, Kapalabhati and Bhastrika.
The more technically complex practices are deconstructed and then reconstructed over weeks and months. In most weeks three nominated practices are done each day in sequence and followed by meditation practice (dharana).
And just as there are categories of pranayama e.g. vitalising balancing, heating cooling, tranquilising, there are categories of meditation taught on the course.
For example: Compassion and Loving Kindness, Open Monitoring, Mindfulness, and Focussed Attention. In this course the meditation techniques are drawn from the latter category, (focussed attention). Techniques from this category include Kaya Sthairyam, Trataka, Japa, Akasha, Ajapa Japa and Antar Mauna.
David says this is because in meditation: one size does not fit all!