Primary Friday: The Swenson Adventure Continues

Hooray for Friday!  I've never been so glad to move from Setu Bandhasana to Urdhva Dhanurasana without all that Intermediate in between.  I'm exhausted and my back is begging for a break.

The sleep directive continues to be ignored.  Last night, hoping to get to bed nice and early to catch up on rest after a long but wonderful week of early morning Mysore with David Swenson and Shelley Washington, I was given the opportunity to sub a really great late evening class that I just couldn't pass up.  The class was great.  The students amazed me with their strength.  But, once again, I crawled into bed just after midnight already psyching myself up for another pre-dawn wakeup after yet another painfully short night.

In spite of all this sleep deprivation, practice has been pretty good.  How could it not be with such excellent teachers and a great group of people to practice with?  The energy in the room is evolving as everyone settles into the routine.  What began as a heavy and heated atmosphere has become vibrant and light.  There is no shortage of laughter and though the days are still sultry, as is to be expected, the early mornings have been breezy and comfortably cool.

After asana practice and a short break, we all reconvene for group pranayama followed by open discussion.  The pranayama is perfect right after practice and it makes me wish I had time to do it every day (I'll have to work on that).  David leads us through three rounds of rechaka kumbhaka (exhalation retention), three rounds of puraka kumbhaka (inhalation retention), three rounds of puraka rechaka kumbhaka (inhale and exhale retention), and then three cooling breaths with inhalation retention.  It's very introductory, brief but powerful.  It is notably more difficult to keep the mind still during retention when someone else is leading the practice.

Just now I'm off to a media presentation and lecture about the early days of Ashtanga.  I can't wait to see pictures of Swenson, David Williams, Nancy Gilfgoff and the gang back in the day.


  1. Hi, I am just catching up on your Swenson adventure, thank you for sharing, what a journey! and also meeting other bloggers, how sweet :-)

    So, he introduced pranayama, this is great news, so happy to read. Wonder about the exhalation was it just a regular exhalation and then retention? same with inhalation? or did he have you engaging bandhas?

  2. Hi Claudia. Yes, it's been pretty incredible.

    As for the pranayama, uddiyana bandha and mulabandha were engaged the whole time. David instructed us to engage jalandhara bandha during the retentions, both inhales and exhales. I'm not sure what you mean by a "regular" exhalation.