Jivamukti Basics Class Curriculum

Notes to teachers: The curriculum for each week’s classes is fixed. Each asana specified must be taught in detail, but no other asanas should be taught.

Every class must begin with the following Warm-Up Sequence (in this order):

  1. Downward Dog – 10 breaths, then keep hands where they are and walk feet forward
  2. Uttanasana, feet hip-width apart, legs and arms extended, feet and hands pressed down into floor (with blocks if necessary), lifting up through wrists and ankles– 10 breaths
  3. Squat, feet mat-width apart, knees tracked over middle of feet, spine extended, hands in prayer at heart, using elbows to open inner thighs, press heels down into floor or into folded blanket or sit on a block – 10 breaths
  4. Teepee Twist, seated with soles of feet on floor, feet and knees together, twist to the right, bend left elbow and embrace both knees with left arm, right hand on floor behind supporting vertical lift of spine; then do left side – 5 breaths each side
  5. Ardha Matsyendrasana, bend right knee and cross right foot over extended left leg, placing right foot adjacent to the outside of left knee or further down near left foot. With left elbow bent, press outside of left arm against outside of right leg (or those who can, hold right instep with left hand) – 5 breaths each side
  6. Table Top, fingers pointing toward feet, head extended back, pelvis lifted as high or higher than knee level, feet under knees, wrists under shoulders – 10 breaths

These exercises should not be taught in detail; instead, provide simple instruction to guide students through the warm-up so their bodies are ready for the class’s asana curriculum. For example, do not give detailed instruction for Adho Mukha Shvanasana until during the asana instruction portion of the class during Week One (and the Surya Namaskar practice in the other weeks), and do not give detailed instruction for Ardha Matsyendrasana until the asana instruction portion of the class during Week Two.

- Shavasana for at least 10 minutes must be taught in every class—provide verbal instructions to relax each body part in succession, from feet to head, followed by some time in which there is quiet.

- Students should do each asana being taught more than once—at least twice. It is better for beginners to do postures more than once, rather than making them hold them for a long time, e.g., longer than 5 breaths or 15-20 seconds (except for Viparita Karani, Sarvangasana and Shavasana, all of which should be held longer).

- It is strongly suggested that you teach the asanas in the order specified for each week.

 

Week One: Standing Asanas

1st through 7th day

Standing asanas reflect back to us something about our willingness to connect to the earth, to all beings and to all things in nature, resulting in confidence and balance.

After Warm-Up Sequence:

  1. TADASANA
  2. UTTANASANA
  3. ADHO MUKHA SHVANASANA
  4. TRIKONASANA
  5. VIRABHADRASANA II
  6. VIRABHADRASANA I
  7. VRKSHASANA
  8. VIPARITA KARANI (minimum 3 minutes)
  9. SHAVASANA (10 minute minimum; must be guided from feet to head, body part by body part)

 

Week Two: Forward Bending

8th through 14th day

Forward bending takes us into our past, teaching us how to resolve old issues by letting go of negative emotions that become trapped in the hamstrings, the hips and the back.

After Warm-Up Sequence:

  1. KAPALABHATI (no bandhas)
  2. SURYA NAMASKAR (two complete rounds: first round break it down and teach alignment; second round put it together with breath but not “strict” vinyasa)
    • Exhale TADASANA
    • Inhale arms up, hands in prayer
    • Exhale UTTANASANA
    • Inhale right leg back into LUNGE (right knee off floor)
    • Exhale ADHO MUKHA SHVANASANA
    • Inhale PLANK pose
    • Exhale ADHO MUKHA SHVANASANA
    • Inhale right leg forward into LUNGE (knee off floor)
    • Exhale left leg forward to meet the right UTTANASANA
    • Inhale arms up overhead, hands in prayer
    • Exhale UTTANASANA for start of left side to complete one full round
  3. PASCHIMOTTANASANA
  4. JANU SHIRSHASANA
  5. ANKLE-TO-KNEE SEAT
  6. ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA (do once with bottom leg straight and then at least twice with bottom leg bent under)
  7. SALAMBA SARVANGASANA (no longer than 2 minutes)
  8. HALASANA (no longer than 1 minute)
  9. MATSYASANA
  10. SHAVASANA (10 minute minimum; must be guided from feet to head, body part by body part)

 

Week Three: Back Bending

15th through 21st day

Backward bending helps us move forward into our future with grace and freedom not only by relieving tightness in the thighs, abdomen, chest, throat and face, but also by relieving related fears and other negative emotions that can be held in those areas.

After Warm-Up Sequence:

  1. SURYA NAMASKAR (two complete rounds: first round break it down and teach alignment; second round put it together with breath, but not “strict” vinyasa)
    • Exhale TADASANA
    • Inhale hook thumbs, reach arms forward and up and arch back, arms next to ears (don’t drop head)
    • Exhale bend knees, swing arms forward and around, clasping hands into fist behind back, extend legs into UTTANASANA
    • Inhale hands down, right foot back into LUNGE (right knee off floor)
    • Exhale ADHO MUKHA SHVANASANA
    • Inhale PLANK pose
    • Exhale knees, chest and chin to floor
    • Inhale COBRA
    • Exhale bend knees, push seat to heels, extend legs into ADHO MUKHA SHVANASANA
    • Inhale right foot forward, LUNGE (left knee off floor)
    • Exhale left foot forward next to right in UTTANASANA
    • Inhale bend knees, hook thumbs, reach forward, stand up, extend legs and arch back
    • Exhale bend knees, swing arms forward and around, clasping hands into fist behind back, extend legs into UTTANASANA for start of left side to complete one full round
  2. SEATED VIRASANA (okay to do only once)
  3. SUPTA VIRASANA (okay to do only once)
  4. SHALABHASANA
  5. DHANURASANA
  6. HALF WHEEL
  7. URDHVA DHANURASANA
  8. TO NEUTRALIZE THE BACK: Pull knees against chest, hold 5 breaths; then drop knees to left, twist to right, hold 5 breaths; repeat to other side.
  9. SALAMBA SARVANGASANA (no longer than 2 minutes)
  10. HALASANA (no longer than 1 minute)
  11. MATSYASANA
  12. SHAVASANA (10 minute minimum; must be guided from feet to head, body part by body part)

 

Week Four: Turning It Upside Down and Putting It All Together

22nd through last day of the month

This week’s curriculum is a practice through which the integration of the physical, energetic, emotional and spiritual bodies can be experienced and examined.

After Warm-Up Sequence:

  1. Chant OM (break down into 3 component sounds: aaa, uuu, mmm, then put it together; give commentary)
  2. MULABANDHA (root lock)
  3. UJJAYI (victorious) breathing
  4. SURYA NAMASKAR BROKEN DOWN taught in detail (emphasizing Chaturanga Dandasana and Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana; demonstrate how to jump back and jump forward, giving the option to step or walk instead of jump)
    • Exhale TADASANA
    • Inhale hands in prayer, extend arms, reach prayer toward ceiling
    • Exhale bring prayer through heart center while bending forward into UTTANASANA, hands on floor
    • Inhale look up, extend arms, keep hands on floor
    • Exhale jump or step back, lowering into CHATURANGA DANDASANA
    • Inhale move forward and up into URDHVA MUKHA SHVANASANA
    • Exhale press back to ADHO MUKHA SHVANASANA
    • Inhale and Exhale five times, and on the fifth exhale bend knees, look up, preparing to jump or step forward
    • Inhale jump or step forward, placing both feet between hands while looking up, arms extended, hands on floor
    • Exhale fold into UTTANASANA
    • Inhale stand up, bringing prayer through heart center reaching for the ceiling
    • Exhale lower prayer through heart and place hands alongside body in TADASANA, completing one full round
  5. SURYA NAMASKAR STRICT VINYASA taught as a “strict” vinyasa, emphasizing Samavritti Ujjayi breathing, Mulabandha and high intention; at least two rounds)
  6. HANDSTAND (start on hands and knees, walking up the wall into a right angle handstand. As an option, add one foot off the wall, extending up to ceiling, keeping hips squared to wall. If no wall is available, improvise.)
  7. SALAMBA SARVANGASANA (no longer than 2 minutes)
  8. HALASANA (no longer than 1 minute)
  9. MATSYASANA
  10. SHAVASANA (10 minute minimum; must be guided from feet to head, body part by body part)
  11. MEDITATION give instruction: find a seat, be still, focus (use the “let-go” mantra linked to breath as the focus). After instruction, allow for at least 3 full minutes in silence (use a timer).