BARPS Workshop by Navtej Johar
Focus: Calm Poise in Challenging Asana
Sunday, October 22nd, 930 am – 1.30 pm

BARPS – an acronym for the processes of bracing, aligning, rotating of joints, poising of breath and finally stretching mindfully in a posture, is a technique devised by Navtej Johar. Essentially a method to practice asana or somatic movement, it is both very precise and self-regulated. The aim of this method is to hone the innate intelligence of the body and to foster autonomy over practice.

The current workshop will focus on the “poising” element of this method. Thus, the focus will be on the twining of breath and attention. The practitioners will be challenged to practice asanas, both dynamic and static, while keeping the breath fully engaged but unperturbed and calmly poised.

BARPS®: A method devised by Navtej Johar to practice asana more effectively. 

Considering that stretching is fundamental to asana practice, the BARPS® method effectively facilitates the “stretch” by progressively engaging the principles of bracing, aligning, joint rotation and poised breathing.  The name, BARPS, being an acronym of these five steps:

Bracing: Just as pranayama is described as “mindful breathing”, we define asana as “mindful contact with the floor”. Our first objective is to brace one end of the body firmly against the floor, offering it sthirata or anchorage so it can be effectively elasticised by being stretched in the opposite direction.

Aligning:  The pull in the opposite direction, however, requires alignment of the joints in order for the stretch to be safe and effective. For this the major joints that are involved in the construction of the asana need to be strung together and the vertebrae to be stacked one atop the other with some measure of precision and alignment.

Rotating: Joints are knob shaped and have a tendency to rotate at will depending upon the slack or tautness in the musculature of the body. It is important to become aware of their proclivity and orientation within the constraints of a specific shape or asana, and then learn to subtly self-regulate their rotation order to tease and ease the body deeper into the asana.  This skill and freedom, to self-regulate the shape and efficacy of an asana from the inside, fosters autonomy in asana. 

Poising: The articulation of a stretch finally requires a determined moment of poise, a still “look before you leap” moment. It is exactly here that the mind and the breath may be gently ushered into the asana, making the practice more attentive, attuned, absorptive, spacious, and reposeful.

Stretching: The body anchored, aligned and autonomously calibrated, and the breath and mind reflexively poised, the cohesive unit comprising of body, breath and mind is ready to commandingly stretch and establish the breathing-body in a safe, fulsome and pleasurable asana.

The aim of the BARPS® method is to ensure safety, promote efficacy of the asana, and to offer the body/mind promised experience of sukha and sthira.  And, most of all, make the practitioner the master of her/his practice!