I have so many things to say about the PKSYHA Meditative Postures Class – where do I even begin to find the words to describe this experience? This class brought me to Pranakriya and the magic I’ve found there. It is in practicing this class where I’ve found the biggest revelations about my mindsets and body. I live with chronic pain and fatigue that I spent years trying to fight against and escape. Here, I found a shift in my dialogue and learned to sit with these sensations, explore them, and, ultimately function again.
This class truly does need to be experienced, whether or not the experience is your cup of tea. So here goes explaining the PKSYHA Meditative Yoga Class, a practice unique to PK & Kripalu yoga traditions.
My first Meditative Postures class was not at all what I was expecting. I think I had a notion of a kind of ramped up gentle class with lots of breathing & guided meditation? But what I found was an experience that brought me deep inside, stripped me raw and left me shaking and wanting to explore further. Many of the first time students share similar experiences with me or a phrase like “that wasn’t what I thought, but wow.”
This class is unique in that, the real challenge here, beyond the physical asana, is mental. Finding that place to witness as the mind and body reveal old thought patterns and limits, challenge them, and learn where you can grow and when to bring yourself back into comfort is a huge component here.
So…before I go on forever about my own experience and the experience of this class, let’s take a look at the breakdown of this practice.
PKSYHA describes Meditative Postures as a class intended to promote an internal focus with a balance of pranayama and asana. All pranayamas may be used (often more than one) and more time is devoted to pranayama practice than in a gentle or workout class. Movement begins with warmups and kriyas, followed by postures, with longer holding times and focus on breath.
But what does that mean?
This class challenges you to go deep inside and explore softening your ego and container. It relies heavily on the chalana, churning, element of PKSYHA classes to awaken and agitate energy and soften the body and mind to retain that energy. The heat generated in this practice is similar to a fire bringing water to a rolling boil. In this place, a backlog of emotions or life experiences may arise, bubbling up and shaking our homeostasis. Being present during this churning allows us space to explore, challenge, resolve or begin working through these revelations. Some moments, you may continue stoking the fire and boiling the water and others, you may turn the heat down to settle the bubbles. This experience ultimately challenges the comfort zone, and invites us to vibrate on a higher plane, as opposed to releasing when the experience becomes uncomfortable. We witness the feeling of disquiet without attaching and allow those feelings to be. As Yoganand Michael Carroll wrote in Lessons from Arjuna [insert link?], “To be a yogi is to embrace the eternal part of us, but we find our eternal self by being present to the little things in our lives that take effort to see. We may language it differently and practice it in a variety of ways, but what makes us yogis is being present with what we find on the mat, experiencing it fully, and then moving on to the next experience.”
As teachers, we assume both a nurturing and coaching role. Supporting our students with experiential language, asking them to be their own teachers in listening to their edges, and also asking for them to challenge those edges and become vulnerable in this space.
And who should take this class? I am often asked in my role at the front desk & as a teacher if this class is a good place for beginning yogis or students looking for gentle stretching and relaxation. While this class will generate that meditative, mindful state and does provide a longer relaxation period, its most appropriate for students who have an understanding and practice with basic postures, are comfortable working in these postures with their eyes closed, and are able to listen to their body’s cues and adjust accordingly. This class will challenge the body and mind to go deeper into stretches than previously thought, students in this class listen to the small mental and physical cues to push these edges or adjust and back off if there is strain or pain.
I could go on for days, but enough of my meandering thoughts and methods approaching this class…I want to hear about your experiences!
And if you’ve been on the fence about trying a Meditative Postures Flow – now’s the time!
Meditative Postures Flow Practice
Note: postures are held for 10 – 15 breaths unless otherwise indicated.
Theme: Holding space + grace in your present season
Opening thought by B. Oakman – “Every season is one of becoming, but not always one of blooming. Be gracious with your ever-evolving self.”
Seated in easy pose, hips propped as needed:
Lead Dirgha & Ujjayi pranayama, add internal + external kumbhaka
Lead 3 rounds of Kapalabhati breath, increasing length with internal + external kumbhaka
Switch cross of legs
Sun arms to Lateral arm stretch
Crow crawl to twist, lower to forearms
Upward facing boat – hold
Lower to back using core or arms to support:
Pelvic tilts to bridge pose
Fish pose “fish ups” to hold (depending on bodies in class)
Side boat (R) – practice balancing releasing left hand into mast
Prone pause into prone boat
Side boat (L)- practicing balancing releasing right hand into mast
Pause in prone position, push to child (3 breaths)
Transition to table with cat/cow integration
Sunbird balance to low lunge & option to rise to warrior 1 hold (R/L)
Table hydrant sequence (special thanks to Jen Portnoy for introducing me to this sequence):
1 circle right/left
side kick (hold) (R/L)
Downdog kriya & hold
3-legged dog to side warrior
Warrior dance: Peaceful warrior & side angle kriya to hold
Side angle to Balancing ½ Moon to DD
Lower to Child, hold 5 breaths (R/L, end in child)
From Child, transition to staff pose:
Half Spinal Twist + seated figure 4 hip stretch (R/L)
Easy pose or savasana for closing pranayama + meditation
Closing Thought: Harry Chapin “Circle”
All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown
The moon rose through the nighttime
Until the daybreak comes around…
…There’s no straight lines make up my life
And all my roads have bends
There’s no clear cut beginnings
And so far, no dead ends