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Musings on Pranayama with Geeta Iyengar

Poet and yogi Jane Munro on Geeta’s Pranayama class in Pune in December 2014…

Geeta Iyengar in Ujjayi Pranayama, from her book, Yoga A Gem For Women



On your walk to the bus — a short-handled broom dropped beneath a banyan. Man asleep beside it under a shawl, flat on the sidewalk. Crow on a coconut husk assesses the sprawl of trash beside a bin that boys were digging through last night, picking out aluminum foil and plastic bottles. Still some pink in the sky.

You’re moving fast. Not much traffic yet – the air is fresher.

It’s your second-to-last day and Geeta spends a long time on pranayama. She tells you, pranayama is just as detailed a study as asana – complex but subtle.

This study can’t be rushed, she says. You need to distinguish the different ways energy – prana – moves in and through your body. How breath and consciousness and each minor adjustment of wrist, jaw, vertebrae – affect and change your energy and its freedom.

When you feel empty within, she explains, your upper chest has collapsed. Lift your sternum and breathe – as much as possible without strain – into the closed area below your collarbones. Roll your shoulders back and down. Lift your armpit chest. Press the shoulder blades in and forward. Then you will begin to feel yourself, to find yourself. Finding yourself is finding your soul.

She’s passionate, her voice animated.

For you, it’s a workout, even though you’re sitting, to keep your chest relaxed but open and lifted. Catch where you’re tightening, losing alignment, collapsing. Readjust.

But you can see the difference in people with a reliable daily pranayama practice. Their grace, ready energy, discernment. Humour. Wit.

In the city of yourself, everything’s a work in progress.

December 9, 2014


Jane Munro is an award-winning Canadian poet and dedicated yogi.  She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, and practises Iyengar yoga at The Yoga Space.  This poem is from her new poetry collection, Glass Float (Brick Books, 2020). To learn more about Jane and to find more of her poetry, go to:


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