A Free Online Conference

Embodied Breath

 on Prana & Pranayama

July 19 - July 21


Conference Summary

There is perhaps nothing as powerful yet as little known as the human breath. Mystics, sages, and philosophers the world over have testified of its wisdom.  Psychologists and healers know well of its therapeutic benefits. Entire meditation systems are anchored in the breath, and in the yoga classroom it is often claimed that it isn’t yoga if attention to the breath isn’t present.

One of the great philosophical explorations of the breath is grounded in the concept of “prana”, which is sometimes defined as the “vital principle”, the “life force”, or the “breath of life”. We might describe prana as the “breath behind the breath”. Prana is both the physical breath as well as the life-giving agency that conditions the very possibility of any breathing whatsoever.

The practical limb of this philosophical understanding is called “pranayama”, which means the regulation, guidance, or control of the breath. Pranayama is thus a practice of moving the breath in a particular way. There are many pranayamas, most notably to be found in the Indian traditions, many of which are associated with a kind of re-alignment at the physical, emotional and spiritual levels.

In this free online conference, yogis, scholars and researchers come together to discuss the philosophy of the breath, to unpack its therapeutic and spiritual benefits, and most notably to share a range of breath practices that can be explored in yogic, meditative, and/or therapeutic environments.

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You'll Learn About:

  • The history of pranayama
  • Philosophy behind the pranayama practice
  • The basic structure and function of the human respiratory mechanism
  • Breathwork as a powerful tool for personal growth and ultimate self-realization
  • The definition/s of prana as discussed by Paramahansa Yogananda
  • The practice of meditative breathing in the Yogavāsiṣṭha through the story of Bhuṣunda
  • Various advanced pranayams from the system of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.™
  • The movement of prana, or life force  in the subtle body called vayu
  • Why pranayama is important in hatha yoga
  • A breath-aligned meditation technique known as Ham Sah
  • The physiological mechanisms, the mind–body connection, and the benefits of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) 
  • Pranayama as a potential adjunct to psychosomatic disorders

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July 19 - July 21

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Speakers Include

Dr. Ana Laura Funes Maderey

David Shannahoff-Khalsa

Dr. Sameer Anil Zope

Jensen Martin

Yoganand Michael Carroll 

Dr. Kavitha Chinnaiyan 

Allison Gemmel Laframboise

Leslie Kaminoff 

Mary Reilly Nichols

Dr. Sundar Balasubramanian

Srivatsa Ramaswami

Talks include

with Jensen Martin

This lecture will examine the definition/s of prana as discussed by Paramahansa Yogananda, one of the great spiritual teachers of the 20th century. Drawing from his written and recorded materials, we will explore Yogananda’s earliest concepts of prana and how they were then formed into a unique, embodied practice which is known today as Kriya Yoga. The class will introduce the preliminary pranayama methods used by Yogananda to prepare for mediation along with a detailed explanation of the way the subtle prana of the body is affected. After foundational practices have been explored, there will be a discussion of the advanced techniques of meditation taught by Yogananda. These higher techniques include the Aum technique, the Hong-Sau technique, and the technique of Kriya Yoga. These techniques, which require years of preparation, have been practiced for centuries by those who are deeply determined to accomplish yogic success. While the specific technical methods cannot be revealed here, there will be an in-depth examination of each technique and their effects and implications on the individual and collective prana. The lecture will end with a look at the goal of yoga, termed by Yogananda as nirvikalpa samadhi, and what the attainment of this goal would require. To supplement Yogananda’s writings, the lecture will include sources from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, The Bhagavad Gita, and direct experiences collected by the speaker from his own practice and from other practitioners.

with Dr. Ana Laura Funes Maderey

This talk will explore the practice of meditative breathing in the Yogavāsiṣṭha through the story of Bhuṣunda, a wise crow that instructs sage Vasiṣṭha in the art of observing one’s own breath to transcend sorrow and attain liberation.  It will look at the difference between the practice of awareness of the breath (prāṇacintā) in the Yogavāsiṣṭha and other breathing yoga techniques (prāṇāyama) as described in haṭha yoga manuals and in the Yogasūtra of Patañjali. Finally, it will propose a reflection on the philosophical meaning and relevance of paying attention to one’s own breath in the manner done by Bhuṣunda, particularly on the practice of “holding the breath within”.hahahha

with Dr. Kavitha Chinnaiyan

In this seminar, we will explore the ways in which prana moves in the subtle body. The movement of prana, or life force  in the subtle body is called vayu (literally meaning wind). Vayu  moves in specific ways, and each movement governs a particular function of the body and mind. The five primary vayus are prana, apana, vyana, udana, and samana. The five secondary ones  naga, kurma, krukara, devadutta, and dhananjaya. When we understand the functions of these  prana vayus, we can gain greater clarity about our body-mind. Through particular pranayama techniques, we can learn to become acutely aware of these vayus and to bring about a sense of calmness and harmony in the body-mind. We can then harness these vayus through awareness, resulting in the increased cultivation of discernment, dispassion, equanimity, and contentment. Eventually, these vayus become the portals of freedom from the clutches of duality and suffering. 

with Leslie Kaminoff

For anyone wishing to practice or teach skillful breathing, it is vitally important to clearly grasp the basic structure and function of the human respiratory mechanism.  Unfortunately, there are many commonly-held misconceptions about breathing and breath anatomy that have remained largely unexamined and unchallenged by the teaching community.

In this highly informative multi-media presentation, yoga anatomy educator and bodyworker Leslie Kaminoff will address many of these issues by providing a step-by-step introduction to what he has learned in 40 years of working in the field of embodied breathing.  Topics covered will include:

  • Understanding the Diaphragm: The “SLARA” formula
  • The Accessory Muscles: A new definition
  • The Counterintuitive Breath: Why the harder you try, the worse it gets
  • Breath Training as Healing: Therapeutic considerations
  • Prana and Apana: Origin and application of yogic breath concepts
  • Shushumna and Kundalini: Anatomical origins of esoteric breath concepts
  • Breathing Myth vs Breathing Reality: The 6 most common teaching errors

Simple, yet profound exercises will be taught and explained. Participants will be invited to embody the lecture material by pausing for periodic inquiry centered on their own breath. A full list of resources for ongoing study will be provided.

with Dr. Sameer Anil Zope

Yoga, an ancient health promotive practice has been adopted as a healthy way of life across the globe. Recently, alternative medicine has adopted yoga as an approach to healthy living.  The environmental pollution, eating habits, increased pace of life, sedentary lifestyle, and psychosocial disturbances have increased stress levels and their associated disorders. One of the widely recommended relaxation exercises by yogacharyas are Yogic Breathing techniques or Pranayama which are regularly practiced for relaxation, stress reduction, control of psychophysiological states, and to improve organ function. Manipulation of breath movement during pranayama, has been shown to positively affect autonomic nervous system imbalances, psychological or stress-related disorders, and immune function. Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) is one unique, powerful yet simple form of breathing exercise that has shown favourable effects on the mind–body system. SKY technique is taught by Art of Living Foundation through its centres in more than 156 countries. Millions of people across all continents and from all walks of life have experienced the healing power of the Sudarshan Kriya Yoga. It has shown to facilitate physical, mental, emotional and social well-being. There is growing evidence that suggests, SKY can be a beneficial, safe and economical adjunct to the treatment of anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, stress-related medical illnesses, depression, substance abuse and rehabilitation of criminal offenders. This talk gives insights about the physiological mechanisms, the mind–body connection, and the benefits of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) in a wide range of clinical conditions.

with David Shannahoff-Khalsa

This lecture will include the description of various advanced pranayams from the system of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.™ These techniques will include the following: (1) a pranayama meditation technique for treating insanity; (2) one for treating anxiety and inducing deep relaxation and one to do when you do not know what technique to do; (3) an 8-part pattern of inspiration and expiration that helps to energize the body, expand and integrate the mind, and awaken one’s higher consciousness; (4) a technique to stimulate the immune system that yogis discovered to help eliminate solid tumors that is best practiced after the 8-part breath; (5) a 16-part breath for regenerating the central nervous system and expanding consciousness and that can be used for correcting the deficits and damage due alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and traumatic brain injury; (6) a 4-part, 8-part, and 16-part unilateral forced nostril breathing technique to help develop a comprehensive, comparative and intuitive mind (7) a one breath per minute pranayam called the 20-20-20 breath that was taught to help eliminate and prevent heart attacks and for developing incredible endurance; (8) a left nostril pranayam specific for treating obsessive-compulsive disorders (9) a meditation technique specific for developing supernatural powers; (10) and lastly the “ultimate pranayam,” called Sodarshan Chakra Kriya, that can completely open and heal all 8 chakras for achieving enlightenment.

with Allison Gemmel LaFramboise

The author of Pranayama: A Path to Healing and Freedom, Allison Gemmel Laframboise became intrigued by pranayama the moment she heard her teacher say “Yoga is not about being good. It’s about being real.” Allison is passionate about breathwork as a powerful tool for personal growth and ultimate self-realization. In this engaging talk, Allison shares her personal experience of healing through pranayama, and she takes a dive into the ancient teachings of Hatha Yoga to understand how we can draw on these ancient mysteries to not only heal, but to grow far beyond the healing to realize our greatest potential in this life. She will examine questions like “How do we use pranayama to untangle old beliefs that are keeping us small?” She will discuss ways that you can pull the inspiration of the ancients into your modern life and practice.

with Yoganand Michael Carroll

Often in discussions on pranayama, we talk about the techniques and the benefits or effects. In this talk by Yoganand Michael Carroll, we will focus on the philosophy behind the practice. Throughout the history of yoga and pranayama, the techniques were developed and practiced for the realization of a philosophy. The philosophy outlined a path and a goal, and the techniques, whether meditations, pranayamas or asanas, were designed to lead the student closer to that goal. When we look at pranayama from this perspective, we can understand more of why the techniques are the way they are.  We see that there is a rational behind the pranayamas, even though what was a desirable effect under one philosophy might be undesirable under a philosophy that arose later. As we look at the history we see that the philosophy changed over the years. From finding the ‘unchanging self’ of Vedanta, to merging with the universe as a Tantric, we see an evolution. Practices from before were often re-purposed when the philosophy changed. In this talk we will explore from the beginning to modern times how goals of pranayama practice changed and as the goals changed the techniques or understanding of the techniques changed also.

with Mary Reilly  Nichols

“Prana burns as fire and shines as the sun;
Prana rains as the cloud;
Prana blows as the wind and crashes as thunder in the sky.
Prana is the earth;
Prana has form and no form;
Prana is immortality.”

This hymn from the Prashna Upanishad from the first millennia BCE is just a glimpse of the centrality of prana in the philosophy of yoga. We will explore the teachings on prana in the Yoga canon and cultivate the extension, veneration and identification with that primordial subtle energy.

From Swami Muktananda we learned that all our practices - the strict ashram diet, the regular discipline, mantra chanting, asana and meditation were for the purpose of releasing the interior flow of prana known as Kundalini Shakti.

One day in 1979 he empowered us with the breath-aligned meditation technique known as Ham Sah, which he called “the final sadhana.” As he put it: “The best and greatest sadhana is to worship the lord of prana. Prana is the highest deity, the vital force of the universe.”

These extremely portable teachings will center your worldly actions and provide direct connection to natural bliss. Learn to practice and to love the crest jewel of the Tantras, the mantra of supreme breath awareness.

As the syllable OM, prana pervades the universe as vibration. As the breath, it becomes a perfectly simple vehicle of return to infinite source.

with Dr. Sundar Balasubramanian

In this talk Dr. Sundar Balasubramanian tells his story of how he utilized the information from an ancient Siddha traditional literature called Thirumanthiram written by Saint Thirumoolar in the Tamil language, and how he studied the biological effects when someone practice that Pranayama exercise. This is the first evidence in modern literature that suggests a link between Pranayama and salivary biomarker alteration. By inducing molecular level changes, Pranayama could be a potential adjunct to several psychosomatic disorders, and could constitute an important adjunct therapeutic modality in future integrative health practice.

with Srivatsa Ramaswami

This lecture explores the meaning of prana and pranayama and its application in hatha yoga.  We’ll learn about prana and the five vayus – the five important forces that are responsible and important to maintain our life.  We’ll look at why pranayama is important in hatha yoga, benefits and various techniques to move prana through pranayama exercises. 

This conference is for you if

  • You are interested in the exploration of the intersection of pranayama, contemplative practice and recent discoveries around breath research.
  • You are a yoga or meditation practitioner looking to deepen your understanding.
  • You are a yoga or meditation teacher looking for further training and education.
  • You are a seeker after knowledge.
  • You are a scholar-practitioner looking to augment your knowledge or to inspire your own work.
  • You are interested in the philosophy and the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of the breath
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About the Speakers

Dr. Ana Laura Funes Maderey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Eastern Connecticut State University (ESCU) where she teaches Asian Philosophies, East-West Comparative topics in Philosophy, and Feminist Philosophies. She graduated with a Ph.D. in Comparative Philosophy from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Before joining ESCU, she taught for three years as full-time faculty in the Master of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on comparative philosophy of the body. She has published various articles and book chapters where she has sought to establish a dialogue between phenomenology, feminism, and notions of bodily self-awareness in the Indian philosophical schools of Sāṃkhya and Yoga. She has also done work in philosophical hermeneutics and recently co-edited with Christopher Chapple the book Thinking with the Yoga Sūtra: Translation, Interpretation.

Dr. Sameer Anil Zope is a consultant Periodontist and Implantologist. He is an active member of various scientific associations including the association Sri Sri Global Meditating Doctors Association. He has many scientific research publications to his credit in national and international journals.  Major area of interest for him is complementary alternative medicine. He is an avid yoga practitioner and yoga instructor. He has been associated with the humanitarian non-governmental organization Art of Living for more than 15 years. Art of Living foundation offers numerous stress-elimination and self-development programs based on breathing techniques like Sudarshan Kriya, meditation and yoga. He has keen interest in research related to health benefits of unique breathing practice Sudarshan Kriya Yoga. He participates actively in activities that promote world-wide awareness about the health benefits of yoga, pranayama and meditation to the health care fraternity and the general public.

David Shannahoff-Khalsa is the Director of The Research Group for Mind-Body Dynamics at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) BioCircuits Institute, and a member of the UCSD Center for Integrative Medicine. Prior to coming to UCSD in 1994 he spent 23 years at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, first working on the building blocks of the genetic code, and then pioneering novel studies in the neurosciences. He has discovered a novel step in the evolution of the nervous system that gives new insights to mind-body (psychophysiological) states, and how these states can be controlled. He has published widely in scientific journals and conducted three clinical trials using Kundalini Yoga meditation techniques specific for treating obsessive-compulsive disorders and OC spectrum disorders. He has pioneered the use of whole-head magnetoencephalography brain imaging to study these yogic meditation techniques. He has taught Kundalini Yoga Meditation protocols specific for treating various psychiatric disorders at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meetings 13 times (including 11 full day CME courses). He has authored four books that include 100+ different meditation techniques, and multipart disorder-specific protocols for all of the major psychiatric disorders. His 3 books published by W. W. Norton and Co. include: Kundalini Yoga Meditation: Techniques Specific for Psychiatric Disorders, Couples Therapy, and Personal Growth, 2006; Kundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric Disorders: Techniques Specific for Treating the Psychoses, Personality, and Pervasive Developmental Disorders, 2010; and Sacred Therapies: The Kundalini Yoga Meditation Handbook for Mental Health, 2012. His 4th book is Psychophysiological States: The Ultradian Dynamics of Mind-Body Interactions, In the series “International Review of Neurobiology,” Academic Press (Elsevier Scientific Publications), vol 80, 2008.

Leslie Kaminoff is a yoga educator inspired by the tradition of T.K.V. Desikachar. He is recognized internationally as a specialist in the fields of yoga, breath anatomy and bodywork. For over four decades he has led workshops and developed specialized education for many leading yoga associations, schools and training programs in America and throughout the world. His approach to teaching combines intellectual rigor, spontaneity and humor, and is always evolving. Leslie’s book Yoga Anatomy, (co-authored with Amy Matthews),  has been a best-seller since its June 2007 release, with translations into 23 languages and over a million copies sold worldwide. Leslie is the founder of The Breathing Project, a New York City based non-profit educational corporation which developed highly respected year-long courses in yoga anatomy that have been available online to a worldwide audience at yogaanatomy.net since 2011. Currently there are over 7000 students from at least 46 countries participating in this growing online community.

Jensen Martin is an artist, yogi, and philosopher who has devoted himself to yogic attainment of higher states of consciousness and to sharing those realizations with others. After reading Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi at the age of 17, Jensen underwent several initiations in various kriya yoga lineages and fervently began practicing spiritual discipline. During his undergraduate degree in Religious Studies, he closely studied the lives of mystics of multiple faiths who had received direct experiences of the truths of the scriptures. Following their example, he underwent austerities, periods of intense contemplation, and multiple extended experiences of monastic community life. After years of devoted searching, he moved to Los Angeles to begin a Masters degree in Yoga Studies at the advice of his spiritual teacher. During his training, he studied Sanskrit and the yoga philosophies presented throughout India’s sacred texts. Most recently, Jensen lived with the sadhus at the Kumbh Mela in India and then traveled through remote areas of South India to complete a research project on the Hindu God Narasimha. Now graduated, he currently teaches meditation and philosophy as he prepares for an extended isolated retreat in the mountains of Northern California.

Dr. Kavitha Chinnaiyan is a cardiologist, award-winning author of Shakti Rising (New Harbinger, 2017) and The Heart of Wellness (Llewellyn 2018), teacher and Tantrika, initiated in the goddess path of Sri Vidya and nondual Shaiva Tantra. She blends her medical expertise with her knowledge of Yoga, Tantra, and the Direct Path in her teachings and courses. Her workshops, courses and writings on meditation, Yoga, Tantra, Ayurveda and non-duality strive to bring these time-honored traditions to modern living in practical ways. Her workshops, upcoming talks, past interviews and online programs can be found on kavithamd.com.  

Yoganand Michael Carroll, through many years of intensive study and practice of Swami Kripalu’s teachings, has gained a profound ability to distill and interpret esoteric yoga texts and techniques. He founded Pranakriya Yoga and the Pranakriya School of Yogic Healing Arts in 2005, and is a Master-Level teacher in the Kripalu Yoga tradition. After studying with Kripalu Yoga masters in India and America, Yoganand taught at the Kripalu Center for more than 15 years before founding Pranakriya Yoga, which he developed from the original teachings of Swami Kripalavandaji and reconfigured to meet the needs of Western yogis in today’s world without taking away from the ancient teachings. Yoganand serves as the Founder and Dean of Curriculum for the Pranakriya School of Yoga Healing Arts, leads trainings and retreats around the country and world and works to keep the history of Tantric Hatha Yoga alive. Students will find that Yoganand teaches from a place of deep experience and learning and that he shares his understanding in ways that allow them to cultivate and experience greater vitality in their own lives. Yoganand is registered with the Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT500 level teacher.

Allison Gemmel Laframboise is the author of Pranayama: A Path to Healing and Freedom and a faculty member at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, North America’s largest yoga retreat center. Allison discovered yoga in college when she was both curious about the practice and looking for a way to ground herself through challenging life events. Seven years later, in 2003, she trained with Yoganand Michael Carroll to become a yoga teacher at Kripalu and now holds a professional level certification. Through her studies with Yoganand and the original teachings of Swami Kripalu, Allison grew passionate about the practice and philosophy of pranayama. Allison graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Boston University and has experience in psychology and public health research. Today her work is a combination of her life’s true callings—teaching yoga and African-style hand drumming; designing her yoga-inspired jewelry line, Prasada; and her greatest passion of all, mothering her sons, Kai and Tayo. Through her jewelry line, Allison has created The Prasada Mala Project, bringing work to women in need in India. Allison is calmed, energized, and renewed by living on a lake in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where she loves to spend time enjoying life with her family.

Mary Reilly Nichols is the Director of Nalanda Institute’s Yoga, Mind & Spirit and has been teaching yoga for over 30 years. She offers teachings through the lens of non-duality in the Upanishads, Advaita Vedanta, as well as in the Tantric methods of Kashmiri Shaivism and Kundalini Yoga. She holds a BA in anthropology from Harvard University, and completed five years of residency in the ashrams of Swami Muktananda both in India and in the US. In addition to workshops, weekly classes, corporate and teacher-trainings, Nichols teaches stress management in psychiatric settings and is involved in ongoing research on the mind/body benefits of yoga and meditation.

Dr. Sundar Balasubramanian is a Cell Biology researcher currently studying cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in resistance to cancer therapy at the Medical University of South Carolina, USA. He is also a Yoga Biology researcher, and is the Founder Director of PranaScience Institute. Sundar’s Yoga research has provided the first scientific evidence how Pranayama could stimulate alterations in the salivary biomarkers that have potential clinical applications in health and disease. He has authored a book titled “PranaScience: Decoding Yoga Breathing”. His recent audio album is “Chanting Is Pranayama”. This JC Bose Memorial Awardee’s work is well publicized through TEDxCharleston talk, Discover Magazine, New York Times, Huffington Post, and other popular media. Sundar grew up in Tamilnadu, India in a traditional Yoga and Siddha medicine practicing family background; and obtained his bachelor’s degree from Swami Chitbhavananda's Vivekananda Gurukula College in India where he deepened his Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, and Kirtan practices. He has been conducting workshops and giving talks on the scientific aspects of Pranayama globally. He is a member of International Association of Yoga Therapists, and the Integral Yoga Teachers Association, and he is an IAYT certified Yoga therapist (C-IAYT). He enjoys teaching what he learned from his research and practice through workshops, webinars and teacher training programs. His website is Pranascience.com.  

Srivatsa Ramaswami is the longest standing student of the legendary Shri T. Krishnamacharya, outside of the teacher's immediate family. He has been teaching for more than 25 years in India Kalakshetra, Ramachandra Medical University, and the Yoga Brotherhood.  He has written Yoga for the Three Stages of Life, The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga, and Yoga Beneath the Surface.  Srivatsa Ramaswami has taught workshops and teacher training programs in the US at the Esalen Institute, Loyola Marymount University, Yoga Works, the Himalayan Institute, Chicago Yoga Center and many others. He is a registered E-RYT 500.

Embodied Breath

 A Free Online Conference on Prana & Pranayama

presented by Embodied Philosophy
July 19 - July 21

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Embodied Breath Conference

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