As with just about everything on just about every topic, one may find a staggering volume of videos on yoga online – a paradise of yoga videos awaits “researchers” on youtube.
For my workshop today on Prana & Pranayama I pulled off a selection of yoga videos on youtube to broadly represent some of my interests in yoga in connecting yogic breathing practices – for me, the heart of yoga – to greater consciousness.
My selection includes a Western scientific view, an unusual Tibetan yoga practice, one of the most wel-known teacher of the 20th century (B.K.S. Iyengar) and, thanks to technology and the archives, my first recorded view of the father of modern yoga, Krishnamacharya, practicing asana.
Here are these videos that will help any student make a bit more sense of pranayama, and the life force, prana, and for my students in context of my workshops and my teaching work in general.
• Breath Training Institute – a very basic, dour I may add, presentation of the anatomy of the breath (useful animation of anatomy of breath about 3/4 the way), and proof and a welcome sight that very ordinary looking Western men are teaching a form of pranayama. This could be a way to show (boring I may add) educationists how this may be done in schools, for example. http://youtu.be/Fx22CwLhPtc
• Iyengar filmed in a yoga demonstration in 1983, worth the whole video, at least watch a few minutes in the beginning to get his take on standing and connecting to prana. http://youtu.be/4t2OLXi2xvY
• Krishnamacharya was 50 when this film, now very welcome on youtube, was made in 1938. He is arguably the most influential yogi in establishing what yoga has become today as his students include Pattabhi Jois (founder of Asthanga yoga), BKS Iyengar, Indra Devi, and his son Desikachar. Most of todays leading yogis and their teachers, such as Sivananda and Satyananda, have a Krishnamacharya connection. Krishnamacharya was born in 1888 in a remote Indian village and lived to be over 100 years old. He is known as not only as a most influential yoga teacher, but a scholar, and a healer. Krishnamacharya was known to be able to voluntarily stop his heart beat/ pulse for over two minutes, to prove how the life force can be brought under conscious control with advanced pranayama practice.
• The Yoga Sutras of Patanajali used as the soundtrack is spoken In Sanskrit by Desikachar, and I can highly recommend listening and meditating to this soundtrack to recieve a strong resonance with the powerful wisdom of these words. One of the comments I saw on the youtube page was that a user saying “In the yoga sutras of Patanjali, yoga asanas are only a very small portion of the whole system of yoga. In fact I believe most (if not all) of the ‘ancient’ yogic asanas are simply differences in seated postures. Most were developed within the past 100 years as an offshoot of Danish gymnastics poses. Patanjali made mention of asana, but only as a preliminary to pranayama and pratyahara…which of course MUST not even be thought of until one has applied the yamas and niyamas to their life fully.” Everything is debatable, I agree that the original yoga, an much of its real value, is in seeking understanding of all that is via pranyama and yama and niyamas (do’s and don’ts) of yoga philosophy – an aspect which has been largely ignored in mainstream yoga, and an important reason why “yoga isn’t pilates” ( my opinion :-)). Here are two Krishnamacharya/Iyengar/Sutra soundtrack videos: http://youtu.be/LUvOuik-g4c http://youtu.be/SMOA8SBw46E
• The video of the Tibetan yogi performing an intense and impossible looking seated jumping breath practice gives one a glimpse of a completely different look at yoga practice. http://youtu.be/BEaj9oSoZCY This clip is from an hour or more long documentary Yogis from Tibet I showed at a workshop last year, and well worth watching, or watching again. Highly recomendable viewing: http://youtu.be/DctQTDm-HdU
• Jesus was a Buddhist Monk BBC Documentary – we didn’t watch this film today, though the BBC film does include some of ideas around how “Christ consciousness” and prana may be brought into context of “ordinary history”. http://youtu.be/FsN4zE2yilo For me the film mostly shows that reality is a subjective experience unless we directly experience the life force, and know it through own perception. History is interesting, but that is about how accurate it gets? The film begins by stating that Jesus is the most famous person ever, and central to the most famous piece of history, or event, ever – the crucifixion, and rising from it.
I personally believe that the “answer” to understanding of the great mystery of life can not be argued via any dogmatic or scientific clarity. Yoga, and esoteric self understanding, for me, offers far greater clarity – in context of history, science, and common sense. Perhaps a good exploration for a future Yoga Day, if I can find a practical angle for us to approach this fascinating topic (in the greater spiritual, metaphysical sense, and in the given historical settings).
Muizenburg, Cape Town
17 May, 2014