Nava Yoga Newsletter: Nov 6–12

Namaste Dear Friends,

Sunday, November 6th marks the beginning of our late Autumn schedule (see below for details). Most classes have set fees; however, we’re also regularly offering two pay-what-you-can (PWYC) classes to make yoga affordable for everyone.

To secure your spot and to maximize the benefits of regular practice, we strongly recommend registering for your desired class(es). Drop-ins are always welcome, however, as we’d like to see yoga integrated easily into your lifestyle.

Two final points. First, Sarah S. has written a lovely piece on ujjayi breath (see below) as part of a mini-series on Ashtanga Yoga. For this reason, ujjayi breath will be explored in lieu of pose of the week for this week. Second, in conjunction with Ekadasi and his personal practice, Greg will be giving a brief talk, 1/2hr gentle yoga class plus silent meditation on Thursday night between 9–10PM. Please see below for further details of Ekadasi and its practice.

All of this week’s classes include:

Sunday, November 6th:
Restorative Yoga w/ Julie 3:30–4:45PM
Core & Back w/ Leanne 5:15–6:30PM

Monday, November 7th:
PWYC Express Flow w/ Julie @ 12:00–12:45PM
Intro to Yin w/ Julie @ 1:30–2:30PM
Yoga for Men w/ Greg @ 5:30–6:30PM
Meditation w/ Sarah T @ 7:00–8:30PM (Registration closed – course is full)

Tuesday, November 8th:
Intro to Ashtanga w/ Sarah S @ 12:00–1:00PM
Vinyasa Flow w/ Julie @ 5:30–6:30PM
Gentle Yoga w/ Leanne @ 7:00–8:15PM

Wednesday, November 9th:
PWYC Express Flow w/ Leanne @ 12:00–12:45PM
Hatha Yoga w/ Greg @ 5:30–6:45PM
Intro to Yin w/ Julie @ 7:30–8:30PM

Thursday, November 10th:
Hatha Yoga w/ Greg @ 1:30–2:45PM
Intro to Ashtanga w/ Sarah S @ 5:45–7:00PM
Fasting/PWYC Ekadasi Yoga w/ Greg @ 9:00–10:00PM

Saturday, November 12th:
Morning Flow w/ Julie @ 10:00–11:15AM
UJJAYI BREATH by Sarah Smith
The Tristhana – three (“trini” meaning three) grounding points or three foundations (“sthana” refers to standing place) that are specific to the Ashtanga practice– is outlined by Sri K Pattabhi Jois, the modern guru of the Astanga practice as it is known today in the West. These three tools are integral to the practice, building the ability to work the mind from outward to inward and create the detoxifying aspect of the practice. The Tristhana includes: Breath (Ujjayi), posture (asana) and looking place (drishti). David Swenson, a well-known American teacher and practitioner adds two more notable tools in the Ashtanga system: Bandhas or “internal energy valves” and vinyasa, the “proper alignment of breath and movement”.

Today I wanted to draw some attention to the first aspect of the Tristhana, the very important, Ujjayi breath.

Ujjayi ca be translated from the Sanksrit as “breathing with sound”. This is literally what we work to create; a sounded breath that captures the attention of the mind and that slows the breath. The audible quality of the breath also helps the student to monitor and control the rhythm of the breath, which is a foundation of the practice of vinyasa (breath and movement system)

With the tongue resting behind the teeth on the top palate of the mouth and the mouth relaxed, the breath is taken in through the nasal passages and it can be felt along the back of the throat. Do not ”sniff” the breath in through the front of the nostrils, but draw breath in from the back of the palate. Students new to this technique can make the action of fogging a mirror with the mouth open, creating a “haaa” sounds and then, with the mouth closed, attempt to create that same sound.

In the body, the diaphragm flexes down with the intake of breath while intercostal muscles lift the rib-cage. The opposite occurs on the exhalation. The goal is to breathe deeply! Equalizing the breath, creating heat in the body and increasing the movement of energy upward (prana) are all effects of practising this breath. The mind will come to focus on the sound and the natural meditative flow of the deep breathing.


Ekadasi is a Sanskrit word for the number 11 and indicates the 11th day of each half of the month in the Vedic lunar calendar, occurring roughly twice per month. The movement of the moon is believed to be directly correlated with the quality of the mind, which is said to be ripe for concentration/meditation on Ekadasi. Fasting, in part or fully, is an integral part of Ekadasi so as to focus one’s energy/prana on the Divine Self rather than mundane things. Regardless of one’s convictions, fasting gives the body-mind system a rest from dietary irregularities and over indulgences. The class is free for “fasters” and PWYC for others.

Last week we introduced the yamas, or self-restraints, of the eight limb (ashtanga) system of Pantanjali. The week introduces the second limb, niyamas.

(Chapter 2, Sutra 32)
32. The niyamas consist of cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self-study, and self-surrender.

The niyamas are observances that cultivate positive qualities. You may notice that the niyamas consist of the three aspects of Kriya Yoga introduced in Sutra 1 of Chapter 2 (i.e., self-discipline/austerity, self-study, and self-surrender). Austerity refers to mastery of the senses (i.e., curtailing their insatiable demands) in order to conserve energy for higher pursuits. In practice, this may take the form of fasting, rising early to meditate or practice yoga instead of sleeping late, reducing certain comforts to challenge the mind, drinking water instead of coffee, etc.

Self-study and self-surrender seek to eliminate ignorance by way of studying scripture and spiritual works and surrendering the personal will, or ego, to the Supreme will.

Cleanliness refers to both internal and external purification by way of diet, exercise, specialized cleansing techniques (e.g., neti/nasal cleansing), regular bathing, etc. Cleanliness also extends to the mind, since only when it is purified of all dross can it be a pure mirror to reflect the Self.

Being content with where one is in life rather than unhappy where one isn’t forms the basis of contentment. Ideally, the mind is not affected by external objects. Of course, objects are possessed, but they are with a sense of detachment since attachment to them can easily disturb the mind.

Collectively, the yamas and niyamas form the main principles and practices of a yogic lifestyle.

Om Namah Shivaya


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