What is Pranayama?
Pranayama (breath work) is a Sanskrit word that is translated to mean “life-force or life-energy”. As Goswami Kriyandanda says in his book Extraordinary Spiritual Potential, “In yoga, the depth and concentration of the mind are not so dependent upon willpower, as upon pranic power. Prana is the life-force or life-energy. It is not oxygen but something that exists beyond it. Prana is contained in the water you drink, the oxygen you breathe, the sunlight you absorb and live in, the food you eat, and is the essence of life.” *
In pranayama (breath work), we fully open to feeling alive within ourselves. We breathe deeper and more fully. We relax into the moment. We feel deeply and passionately. We feel that we are in the flow. We bring into the world the beautiful expression of who we truly are.
When you experience stressful thoughts, practice pranayama to help you tap into your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) to help you relax and detach from the emotional turbulence in the mind.
*Goswami Kriyandanda, Extraordinary Spiritual Potential (Chicago: The Temple of Kriya Yoga, 1988), 4.
Practice Shiva Mudra – Mudras are sacred hand gestures that helps us gather energy. You use this hand mudra during the Alternate Nostril Breathing technique.
Take the index and middle fingers of your right hand and bend them into your palm. With a light pincher action, use the thumb to gently close off the right nostril and use the ring finger and little finger to gently close off the left nostril. Alternate between opening and shutting the nostrils using this techniques. Practice with your eyes closed or slightly open. Try to keep the flow of your breath continuous.
Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique
First, read through the description below and do a practice run. This description equals one full alternate nostril breath cycle. It is recommended to repeat the cycle seven times.
Ujjayi breath is also called “oceans breath.” Your breath will sound like the waves of the ocean. Ujjayi breath has a characteristic sound that is created by decreasing the size of the back of the throat. Practice feeling the “oceans breath” without wondering if you are getting it right or not.
Ujjayi Breathing Technique
I had the distinct pleasure of studying yoga and taking classes with Roger and Kari in Madison for around four years. I learned volumes! As another student put it, their method of teaching is like the “philosopher’s stone” applied to yoga. Classes were both insightful and delightful on account of Kari’s whimsical sense of humor. The vibe was intense and focused yet without taking anything too seriously. We had fun while devoting ourselves to precise alignment. I highly recommend their Iyengar-style technique and Kari‘s personal teaching style!"
I have known Kari for a number of years. She is unequaled in her dedication to using yoga as a vehicle to understand her place in the world and make an impact in the lives of those she encounters. She has a deep knowledge of the workings of the human body – derived from her personal practice and her many years of teaching. She approaches each individual as a unique person and treats all with respect. Besides that, she has a great sense of humor and an assured yet gentle manner."
Kari Tomashik is a true and kind teacher of Eischens Yoga. She has taken Roger Eischen’s groundbreaking work much further. Kari is both a very clear communicator who can help the uninitiated and experienced practitioner to learn about their body/mind/spirit, and an experimenter who keeps her ego out of the way of her focus on the learner.
I met Kari on my travels in Pai, (Thailand). I was so lucky to have the chance to practice with her on my morning sessions. Kari showed me with a few words and gentle adjustments the way to open my heart. But more valuable to integrate & strengthen that open heart. Kari is an authentic,natural born teacher who shares her experience from deep down in her beautiful heart! Everlasting gratitude."