The Full Dimensions of Yoga
Workshop live & online
With Doug Keller @ Yogawerkstatt Vienna
14. – 16. July 2023
In this year’s live workshop, we’ll take a somewhat different approach from what we have done in the past. The 6 sessions will be a deep exploration of yoga, through asana, breath, and meditation, as a multi-layered approach to the inner world and experience of yoga.
In the past we have focused on therapeutic themes; this year will have elements of the therapeutic value of yoga practice, but from a different perspective.
The main theme is our relationship to our nervous system in our practice, and its vital role in our wellness — physical as well as mental and emotional wellness. While more traditional hatha practice put this in terms of the Prana and the nadis, we’ll come to appreciate those ideas more in relation to more contemporary language.
We’re taking this perspective because the health issues which have confronted us over the last couple of years have demonstrated that there are realms of wellness which traditional yoga ideas and concepts do profoundly address, but which haven’t been fully understood or appreciated in contemporary practice, in no small measure because traditional ‘yoga language’ can seem arcane and unsuited to modern understanding.
The 6 sessions of the training will be an experiential exploration of those ideas.
To help highlight the focus of each session in relation to this theme, they will be organized around the five ‘Vayus.’ Each ‘Vayu’ (a Sanskrit term meaning ‘wind’ or power of the life force or Prana) expresses an aspect of the nervous system which governs the functioning of the mind and body.
Each session will include asana and short pranayama practice, with the asana practice focusing on a particular area of the body or aspect of the practice which illuminates the theme in a practical, experiential way. The last session on Sunday will pull all of the themes together, with a more extended experience of pranayama practices and meditations from the tantric perspective on the Vayus, with some warmup stretches and a summation of the philosophy and its value for modern thought and practice.
Vyana Vayu: Space — Movement and Sensation
The session will begin, of course, with an explanation of the Vayus and the relevance of these ideas to our modern understanding of healthy functioning of the body and mind, and of practice. Then we will proceed with Vyana Vayu.
Vyana Vayu includes the aspect of sensation — which helps us to understand pain syndromes in the body, particularly in the muscles and joints. The key to working with this Vayu is to pay attention to the perception of ‘space’ in the movement of our joints, by which our nervous system governs muscle tone through a mechanism known as the ‘arthrokinetic reflex’.
- Applications in asana practice will focus on joint movement and freedom in the shoulders (and how shoulder tension influences the health and freedom of the neck), as woven into flowing vinyasa practice.
- This theme continues into the realm of pranayama, exploring the ‘space’ of the breath, the role of sensation as well as vibration/mantra, and their relationship to mind and emotion.
Prana Vayu: Stimulated and Awakened
While the more familiar ideas Prana and Apana are always intertwined, we’ll begin by emphasizing the theme of Prana Vayu, along with an appreciation of the role of the ‘gunas.’
Prana Vayu refers to stimulation of the ‘sympathetic’ aspect of our nervous system, which is more than just a ‘fight or flight’ reaction. It’s the stimulation we receive through the senses in daily life as well as practice which keeps us alert, interested, and engaged in our life. The challenge is to receive this stimulation without being overwhelmed or overstimulated. Overstimulation leads to aggravation of ‘Rajas’ guna, and irritation, while overwhelm and overload can lead to a ‘Tamasic’ reaction of fatigue and even the kind of ‘shutdown’ states associated with trauma.
- Applications in asana practice will explore a dynamic and stimulating asana practice focused on ‘functional’ lines of movement that engage our ‘core’ through dynamic breath and movement. The benefit of this is especially for the health of our spine, and low back in particular.
- We’ll continue with this theme into the realm of pranayama, with emphasis on the stimulating and focusing ‘Sun’ aspects of pranayama — their purpose, and how we balance these practices in a way that produces a ‘sattvic’ state of calm, centered enthusiasm and positive engagement in life.
- On the therapeutic level, this theme of ‘Prana Vayu‘ will introduce us to the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and the problems of overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system leading to health problems involving inflammation and pain.
Apana Vayu: Self-Aware, Centered, and Grounded
In this session, we’ll explore Apana Vayu and the ‘grounding’ and calming aspects of practice which support the parasympathetic nervous system in maintaining our health, mental clarity, and emotional resilience.
- Applications in asana practice will be concerned with proper ‘grounding’ through our foundations — the feet, which influence the stability of the knees and and freedom in the hips.
- In addition to working with therapeutic issues in the feet, knees, and hips, this will introduce the emotional dimension of feeling ‘grounded.’
- The theme continues into the realm of pranayama, with emphasis upon calming or ‘Moon’ aspects of pranayama, exploring further the balance between sun and moon that reflects the fine balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems — and the central role of our ‘yoga nerve’ — the Vagus nerve — in maintaining health and calming inflammatory conditions.
Samana Vayu: Equilibrium
The balance between outer and inner, Prana and Apana, manifests in equilibrium and healthy functioning, as well as in states of meditation. ‘Samana Vayu’ represents that active state of equilibrium.
Samana Vayu: is concerned not only with digestion, but with the third aspect of our nervous system, the ‘enteric’ nervous system that governs our hormonal system. The role of yoga in helping to regulate our hormonal system has long been misunderstood through overly simplistic ideas of hormonal stimulation, despite the fact that hatha yoga has long had a clear interest in its function, along with healthy digestion. This session will introduce a proper and more practical understanding of this vital ‘Vayu.’
- Asana practice will explore this area of Samana Vayu in terms of the health of the sacroiliac joints and low back, as influenced by the psoas muscle and its supporting muscles. This goes more deeply into the realm of breath and emotion in the experience of asana practice, as well as the profound role of the ‘bandhas.’
- In pranayama, we will go deeply into breath as dharana (a method of focus for the mind), connected with visualization, feeling/emotion, and breath as mantra, related to the idea of the chakras.
Udana Vayu: the Power of Intention
Udana Vayu: the ‘fire’ of yoga has to do with the intention that drives our practice, and the clarity we bring to our practice. Exploration of Udana Vayu is an exploration of the transformative power of yoga practice, in mind and emotion as well as in body — and of the subtle influence of our mental intentions as well as ‘vrittis‘ upon the health and function of our minds and bodies.
- Asana practice will center around the health of the neck (and how different kinds of neck tension impact the health of the shoulders) — with practical variations for release of neck tension, and with it, shoulder tension.
- This will include elements of breath and ‘drishthi’ (the influence of the gaze or focus of the eyes) and the subtleties of Jalandhara Bandha, in both asana and pranayama practice.
- These practical elements learned in asana will be incorporated into breath practice, that will be continued in the afternoon session. the morning session will summarize the physical aspects of working with the upper body in pranayama — the afternoon will go deeper!
- supporting our focus as we explore deeper levels of meditation and Yoga Nidra, as guided by intention, mantra, and visualization. The ‘fire’ of Udana Vayu is closely related to later ideas of the Kundalini, and we’ll be exploring the experiential meaning of this.
Yoga Reconsidered: Pathways to Deeper Practice in Pranayama and Meditation
The afternoon session will summarize the philosophical context of the Vayus, and how it transforms our understanding in yoga about ideas of calming or ‘controlling’ the thoughts of the mind. The tantric perspective goes much deeper, beyond the thoughts themselves, into states of the nervous system and deeper states of consciousness. We’ll go through a series of pranayama practices and guided meditations, pulling together elements of what we practiced in the preceding sessions.
Some very important support materials are provided with the training to ensure that you can take in the information and work with it even when the training itself is over.
An illustrated manual is provided for you with the training, which includes the teaching points of the training, illustrated and in detail, with space for you to take notes as we go along. This reduces your stress from worrying about taking extensive notes, so that you can be fully present to experience what is being covered in the training.
The slide presentations used in the lecture portions of the weekend, which follow the information in the manual, will also be available to you to download. You will be able to save them to your computer or tablet as high quality color documents for you to review whenever you wish.
9.00 – 12.00 (Session 1)
13.30 – 16.30 (Session 2)
9.00 – 12.00 (Session 3)
13.30 – 16.30 (Session 4)
9.00 – 12.00 (Session 5)
13.30 – 16.30 (Session 6)
LIVE at Yogawerkstatt (includes recordings of the sessions booked)
Full workshop (6 sessions) includes an illustrated manual – 440 EUR
One day (2 sessions) – 160 EUR
One session – 85 EUR
Please make your reservation here
ONLINE participation (includes recording of the sessions booked)
Full workshop (6 sessions+recordings) – 220 EUR
One day (2 sessions+recordings) – 80 EUR
One session (+recording) – 50 EUR
Detailed illustrated manual – 20 EUR