By Patricia Yonchek Pranakriya 500-RYT

 

Being trained as Pranakriya teachers, most of us intuitively weave the characteristics of a
Pranakriya class into our teaching. If we continually provide our students with the elements
integral to Pranakirya teaching in our classes, we offer them opportunity for a deeper, more
satisfying yoga experience. As Georg Feuerstein offered, “…the Self is not to be found in the
outside world. Rather it is the nucleus of our inmost being.”

 

The practice of Pranakriya Yoga can be a powerful vehicle for personal transformation.
Taking a few moments prior to teaching to review your class plan and note how you’ll integrate
the eight characteristics of Pranakriya Yoga classes into the practice ensures the continuity of
the Pranakriya tradition.

 

Detailed below are qualities that are integral to a Pranakriya experience, followed by
suggestions on integrating those characteristics into a yoga class:

  • SPINE: Elongating from pelvis to crown in all movements and postures allows the breath
    to move freely.

    • Easy pose – encouraging lengthening of the spine, stacking one vertebra over
      the other from the base of the spine to the cervical spine
  • BREATH: Focusing on the breath allows us to access our life force, prana, as we move and hold postures, leading to a heightened internal awareness.
    • Starting each class with pranayama, encouraging Dirgha breath or Ujjayi breath throughout practice
  • SENSITIVITY: Continually focusing on sensation, we become attuned to minute shifts in
    our experience.

    • Asking students to tune in to their sensations, allow the sensations to guide the
      practice.
  • WITNESS: Stepping back witnessing our thoughts, emotions, body, life, stories, etc. cultivates a higher level of awareness.
    • Encouraging awareness of thoughts during periods of holding postures. What stories are we telling ourselves?
  • EXPLORATION: Allowing our yoga practice to unfold naturally, opens our minds and bodies to the process.
    • Continually sensing what are bodies and minds need, feeling comfortable enough to sink into Child’s pose if needed
  • BALANCE: We seek balance through movement and holding, through stretching and strengthening, through balancing and stability, through soft tissue engagement and relaxation. By being strong and vulnerable, we open ourselves to witness “Chalana.”
    • Offering options to engage muscles during postures, e.g., Warrior II-energetically pulling thighs toward each other, pressing into little toe sides of feet – hold then release
  • CHALANA: This Sanskrit word means “to churn.” Churning engages our life experience
    to challenge our current thinking and behaviors.

    • When I think of churning, I think of a Smoothie where individual ingredients (our belief patterns) are put into a blender, mixed together (churned) and something
      entirely new and different is achieved (awareness of the stories that set the pattern of our lives)
  • MEDITATION: In a Pranakriya class, a meditative state is achieved through the combination of asana and pranayama. Our entire practice is the meditation.
    • Meditation begins at the beginning of class when we practice Pranayama. If we as teachers lead the class through the elements detailed above, the meditation is integrated into the practice and continues through Shavasana

 

Although “magic” isn’t usually associated with yoga practice, as a teacher and a student, I’ve felt
the experience of yoga for myself and students as something close to mystical. The words of
Yoganand Michael Carroll aptly describe that experience, “When body, breath, and awareness
are aligned, a certain kind of magic happens. Distraction falls away and all of you comes
together into a greater whole. The posture not only stretches you in just the right place, it
teaches you something about yourself.”

 

We often find our niche for teaching and, through no fault of our own, some of the important
tenets of our training fall by the wayside. We’ve chosen the Pranakriya approach, believing it
offers a deeper, more meaningful experience for ourselves and our students. Perhaps, just a
reminder to look over our Teacher Training materials will keep us firmly on the Pranakriya path.