Saturday, June 14, 2008

Closed or Open Eyes In the early stages of the practise of Asanas, it is better to open the eyes, which will enable one to observe whether they are being done perfectly. If the postures are wrong they can be checked and corrected. One can keep the eyes closed only when the performance of a particular Asana is proper and satisfactory. When the eyes are closed, the mind becomes calm and one can look inward and concentrate mainly on the benefits of the Asana.
Shava Asana
This Asana is to be performed at the time of the rising sun to derive maximum benefits. After performing this Asana it is necessary to relax by doing Shava Asana
Synchronisation of Breath The breath should be properly synchronised while performing the Asanas depending upon the manner in which the body is positioned. One of the essential features that distinguish Yogic Asanas from physical exercises is that greater emphasis is placed on the synchronisation of the breath. While explaining the practical aspects of the individual Asanas in the subsequent pages, specific mention has been made about how the breath must be synchronised. Points to Ponder 1. Asanas should be performed in a slow and graceful manner without any jerky or violent movements. 2.Breaths should be properly synchronised with the movement of various parts of the body.The mind should be calm and relaxed, saturated in sublime and serene thoughts. All negative feelings like envy, jealousy, malice, anger, and hatred should be scrupulously avoided,
4.Asanas should not be practised in a mechanical way but must be considered a purposeful activity. One should mentally repeat that by doing a particular Asana he would derive certain benefits. Specific mention has been made in the subsequent pages regarding the aspects on which one should utilise autosuggesĂ‚¬tion while doing the Asana. This is mentioned for every Asana under the subtitle Activate the Subconscious Mind. 5. After completion of every posture, relax the entire body by lying down in ShavaAsana for a few seconds and then take up the practise of the next Asana. 6. A set of Asanas should be selected and practised regularly in proper sequence.

Swami Vivekananda enunciates four types of Yoga: viz., Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga.Karma Yoga is the Yoga of action performed unselfishly for the welfare of others. A Karma Yogi is one who works incessantly for the good of mankind without any motive. The path of a Karrna Yogi is not to get away from the materialistic world but to live within and learn to enjoy the supreme happiness derived from selfless work. Scientists of the modern world could be considered apt examples of Karma Yogis. The motivating force behind most renowned scientists is neither money nor fame but an irresistible desire to discover the truth hidden in the objective world. It is an attitude of the mind that should be developed consciously.Bhakti Yoga is the Yoga of love and purity. It is more suitable for those predisposed to an emotional propensity. When Jesus Christ said "Love your enemies", He was preaching Bhakti Yoga. The love of a mother for her child is more a maternal instinct than a gender-based love. But the love between youngsters of both sexes is motivated by the pleasure-seeking instinct. However, true love goes beyond these parameters and pervades entire humanity without any restriction. Mother Teresa of Calcutta could be considered a person who practised Bhakti Yoga in its most exalted form. The methods and techniques of Bhakti Yoga are love and affection toward others without any discrimination. It warrants the elimination of emotions like hatred, jealousy, prejudice, and enmity from one's mental make-up.Jnana Yoga is the Yoga of knowledge and wisdom. It does not deal with ordinary knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic, but goes deeper into the knowledge of man, his life after death, the ultimate aim of man's life, the creation of the universe, etc. It is suitable for all those who are endowed with the capacity to think and analyse in an objective manner. The deeper they contemplate on the nature of man, life after death and creation of the universe, the greater they are convinced that the whole world is Maya (illusory) and transitory in nature and wonder at the greatness of God who is the ultimate reality. This type of feeling ultimately makes many renounce the world and lead a life of seclusion. In this way, most saints and seers practise Jnana Yoga.Raja Yoga is the Yoga of growth and development through mental discipline. Fatanjali is the highest authority on Raja Yoga. Of all the other Yogas, only Raja Yoga has prescribed eight steps to practise in a scientific manner for physical, mental and emotional development.The first step is Yama (social virtues) that deals with:(a) Ahimsa (non-violence)(b) Sathya (truthfulness)(c) Astcya (non-stealing)(d) Brahmacharya (continence)(e) Aparigraha (unselfishness)The second step is Niyama (personal virtues), which insists on:(f) Soucha (purity of body and mind)(g) Santosha (contentment)(h) Tapas (austerity)(i) Swadhyaya (self-study and improvement)(j) Ishwara Pranidhana (self-surrender to God)Yama and Niyama could be considered the Ten Commandments of Yoga meant for controlling the passions and emotions of a person and thereby paving the way for practise of higher levels of Yoga.The third step is Asana, which refers to body postures, and physical exercises torestore and refresh the body by better circulation of blood, more effective breathing and muscular relaxation.The fourth step is Pranayama. It refers to Yogic exercises of breath control used to relax the body and thus recharge the body's batteries. Prana is the generalised manifestation of all forces and power in the universe. Pranayama, therefore, refers to certain exercises through which every part of the body is filled with Prana and from this vital force a certain amount of power is generated in the body. Through Pranayama one is able to exert complete control over his body, mind and emotions.The fifth step is Prathiyahara. It is control of the senses, the intentional withdrawal from sights, sounds, smells and feelings of the external world, and selective inattention to the senses.The sixth step is Dharna. It is deep, unrestricted, pinpointed concentration of the mind on a particular object or idea.The seventh step is Dhyana, which is meditative awareness. For instance, there is a steady flow when oil is poured from one vessel to another; when the flow of concentration (Dharna) is uninterrupted; the state that arises is Dhyana (meditation).The last step in Raja Yoga is Samadhi, the highest level of meditation and the supreme goal of Yoga. It is oneness - union with the Self (the Divine). In the state of Samadhi, the body and senses are at rest as if one is asleep but at the same time, the faculties of mind and reason are fully alert, like when one is wide-awake.
Other Types of Yoga There are some other types of Yoga, which may be considered minor.(a) Hatha Yoga - also called Bhahiranga Yoga (external Yoga) - aims to conquerbodily life by a complex of postures (Asanas), breath control (Pranayama),cleansing process (Shat Karma) and some other secret practices, such as Bhandasand Mudras. It seeks to heighten the flow of the vital force (Prana) into the body,thereby freeing the body of all impurities and keeping the nervous systemunclogged and alert. A Hatha Yogi succeeds in maintaining the strength of hisbody and youthfulness till a ripe age and develops many supernormal andpsychic powers as he progresses in the performance of advanced Hatha Yogapractice. In its pure and simple form, this Yoga deals with external practices ofdisciplining the body to maintain sound health and increase longevity.(b) Laya Yoga - also known as Mantra Yoga. It is the opposite of Hatha Yoga. Thelatter concentrates on the body, which is gross, whereas the former deals withthe subtle, which is deeper than Hatha. Laya Yoga introduces the techniques ofarresting the mind's attention on internal sound (Anahata Nada), the mentalrepetition of a sound symbol (generally a select Mantra) in order to tap thepotential energy embedded in a human being. Transcendental Meditation develĂ‚¬oped and propagated worldwide by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is one of thesimplest techniques of Laya Yoga.(c) Japa Yoga deals with chanting a Mantra and is also called Mantra Yoga. It dealswith the science of sound and vibration, which includes chanting, incantations, and the repetition of sacred formulae that affect the mind, emotions and health. Laya Yoga deals with internal sounds (Anahata Nada), whereas Japa Yoga is based on chanting Mantras loudly.(d) Ajapa Yoga is a continuation of Japa Yoga. When Japa Yoga is perfected and therepetition of a Mantra becomes automatic, it is Ajapa Yoga.(e) Kundalini Yoga: It is said that the psychic energy of man lies in the lowerabdominal region. This is called Kundalini Shakti and is likened to a serpentcoiled at the base of the spine, blocking a fine channel known as the Sushumna,which travels up the spine. When the Kundalini Shakti is awakened, it ascendsto join the supreme power at the Sahasrara in the head. The process ofawakening Kundalini Shakti through various Yogic practices is calledKundalini Yoga.
Suitable Yoga for BeginnersThe aim of all Yoga is to make man disciplined in every respect but they differ only in their approaches and techniques. Hal ha Yoga is the most suitable one for beginners.The practise of Hatha Yoga ensures sound health and tremendous dynamism in a person. This would provide further scope for taking up the advanced practices of Raja Yoga. For the integrated development of one's personality, it is necessary to practise all types of Yoga. The main emphasis should be given to the practise of Asanas, Pranayama, Shat Karma and meditation.In this site, therefore, an attempt has been made to explain in detail various practices of Hatha Yoga and also to initiate practices of meditation.

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