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Practice with Clara

Vitality (32-min) Slow Flow

A slow flow yoga class that features twists and leg strengthening with several types of pranayama including Kapalbhati, Bhastrika, Kumbhaka, and Sushumna Flossing.

Allow the prana to light up the temple that is your body.

This class is part of the Lila Wellness Summit – the theme this week was how to cultivate a life force.

Watch Keema’s lecture on Cultivating Your Life Force.

Style: Slow Flow

Duration: 30-minutes

Level: open-levels

Props: 2 blocks

Focus: pranayamas to stimulate life force.

Location: Lila Familia Production Studio, Vancouver, BC

Spotify Playlist: Where Am I?

Opening Meditation

The oldest yogis were alchemists. They explored kriyas to create gold inside of themselves.

Come up to stand in the middle of your mat. Take your feet wider than hip-distance. Place your palms at your lower belly and your heart. Begin to make slow, rocking movements with your pelvis. Breathe all the way down into your heels

The body will naturally decay as we get older, but we can maintain our vitality through kriyas, intention, movement, and diet. This is the practice of yoga.

May we feed ourselves prana, energy, qi, and may we direct the prana with our intention.

Moving Meditation

Standing at the center of your mat

  • Inhale and take your arm wide and high
  • Exhale and move your hands through prayer down the central channel
  • Repeat five cycles

Wave 1

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Urdhva Hastasana (hands to sky)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Anjaneyasana (lunge) variation

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog) variation

  • Create a wave with your body as you undulate from adho mukha svanasana to phalakasana.
  • Inhale and ripple forward to phalakasana
  • Exhale and wave back to adho mukha svanasana
  • Repeat five cycles

Phalakasana (plank pose)

Chaturanga

Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Eka pada adho mukha svanasana (three-legged downward dog)

Anjaneyasana (lunge) variation

  • Inhale and take your arm wide and high
  • Exhale and move your hands through prayer down the central channel
  • Repeat five cycles

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Urdhva Hastasana (hands to sky)

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Repeat the same sequence on the other leg.

Wave 2

Utkatasana (chair pose) with Bhastrika Breath

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Anjaneyasana (lunge) variation

  • Inhale and take hands to the sky, straighten the back leg
  • Exhale and make a fist with your hands as you pull them towards your waist; bend the back knee, so it hovers from the ground in tandem

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog) variation

  • Create a wave with your body as you undulate from adho mukha svanasana to phalakasana.
  • Inhale and ripple forward to phalakasana
  • Exhale and wave back to adho mukha svanasana
  • Repeat five cycles

Phalakasana (plank pose)

Chaturanga

Bhujangasana (cobra pose) OR Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Eka pada adho mukha svanasana (three-legged downward dog)

Anjaneyasana (lunge) variation

  • Inhale and take your hands to the sky
  • Exhale and twist as you spread your arms wide
  • Inhale and hold in the twist
  • Exhale and draw the navel in to use the core as you twist a little deeper

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Urdhva Hastasana (hands to sky)

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Repeat the same sequence on the other leg.

Closing Movement 

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Urdhva Hastasana (hands to sky)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Phalakasana (plank pose)

Chaturanga

Bhujangasana (cobra pose) OR Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Come to a seated position and find a seat of your choice for Pranayama.

Take two rounds of Kapalbhati for 45-60 seconds:

  • Sharp exhales through the nose to pump the belly.
  • Round 1: extend your hands overhead.
  • Round 2: place your palms on your shoulders and each time you exhale, flick one arm at a time towards the sky.

Take three rounds of Bhastrika for 45-60 seconds:

  • Inhale and round the spine as you take your hands to your knees.
  • Exhale and arch the spine as you slide your hands to your waist.
  • After the last exhale, hold your breath out and pull the belly in for kumbhaka.

Sushumna Flossing, aka Visualization for the Creative Kundalini Energy

As you take your seat, imagine a beam of light that starts at the pelvis and travels along the length of the spine to the crown of the head. Sushumna, or the spine, is the body’s main energy channel and home to each of the seven chakras. We focus on the spinal column and the seven chakras as it is said that our creative force, our Kundalini energy, lives in the bowl of the pelvis; to awaken the divine energy within, the yogi strives to wake the creative potential and bring it up from the pelvis to the third eye. At the third eye, Ajna chakra, the creative Kundalini energy, meets the third eye consciousness where divinity resides.

As you breathe, imagine the beam of light travelling up the spine to the crown of the head as you inhale. Move the beam of light down the spine to the pelvis as you exhale. There’s a brief, natural pause at the top and bottom of the spine where you’ll retain the breath and hold the image of the ball of light. This practice is called Sushumna flossing, as you cleanse the spine with light and breath.

Meditation or savasana to close.

A Note About Bhastrika:

Bhastrika Breath is sharp exhales and inhales through the nose

This style of pranayama works to energize and clear slow or stagnant energy. Do this pranayama at any time of the day to clear the mind and body and stimulate the flow of Prana.

A Note About Kapalbhati: 

Kapalbhati Breath (skull shining breath) is an internal kriya used to cleanse the body. It may clear the nasal passages, relieve congestion, reduce bloating, and increase the lung’s capacity.

Kapalbhati is the perfect pranayama to do in the morning if you’re feeling cold, sluggish, congested, bloated, or heavy. This style of breath targets the solar plexus and draws the energy up Sushumna (the spine), which is the body’s main energy channel. When we draw the energy upwards, we bring the focus to the third-eye center. Pregnant yogis or those with heart conditions should avoid this pranayama.

A Note About Kumbhaka:

Kumbhaka is a form of breath retention; do not do this pranayama if you have difficulty breathing or anxiety. Breathe normally with longer inhales and exhales. If you take kumbhaka pranayama, hold to a point where you don’t feel any discomfort.

Benefits of Kumbhaka include:

  • Better oxygenation to improve overall health and concentration occurs when we retain the breath as it increases the carbon dioxide level. This event activates the respiratory center in the brain and leads to a greater exchange of oxygen.
  • Improvement of lung capacity
  • Strengthening of the diaphragm