General considerations

For safe and rewarding practice, please observe the following:

Before The Exercise

Best time for practice is either dawn or sunset. In the morning mind is fresh and undisturbed. Practice after a quick shower, before breakfast – some positions exert pressure on the abdomen. If possible, empty bowels prior to practice. Downside of morning exercise are somewhat tighter muscles.

Which is exactly why more people prefer evening practice. You’ll feel more wear&tear in the body, but muscles will respond better compared to morning. Allow 2.5 – 3 hours for digestion of the last meal.

Loose clothes made of cotton are good choice. Exercise on a mat or thick blanket – ensure firm contact with the floor. Therefore, it’s easier to practice barefooted.

During The Exercise

Breathe

Observe the way you’re breathing right now. Be quick, since observation changes the rythm and air intake.

Now draw one deep breath through nostrils as slowly as possible and notice the difference. Most people are amazed by actual lung capacity compared to small portion they use daily.

Treat warm-up as an initiation of a complete breathing pattern. Let the air flow smoothly, together with movement. This will engage your breath, mind and body.

Make No Sudden Movements

Sudden moves put you out of control and introduce stress to muscles, tendons, ligaments and breathing. Possibility of injury increases and even if it seems you’re stretching more, in the long run this approach backfires. Muscles contract from shock. Observe breathing, pauses often indicate you are pushing over the limit.

Allow Absolutely No Discomfort Or Pain

There is no such thing as +pushing the edge; by prolonging the uncomfortable position. Ignoring the warning signal of pain, you fall out of yoga. Approach the edge gently and stay with the breathing while feeling the stretch. Your practice shouldn’t be exercise of will power, but a recognition of unity.

Be Aware Of Mind/Body Totality

Focusing exclusively on stretch or contraction, you emphasise disharmony in your body. Ideally, the whole body participates in each position. With senses constantly chasing after desired objects, it’s hard being aware of body totality. Start feeling the focal part of position and spread the consciousness through body. This will come automatically with regular practice and right set of mind.

The Concept

Warm-Up

Session begins with a warm-up, as a sort of buffer zone from stress. Mind isn’t engaged as in asana practice, but shifts focus from external objects and circumstances to metabolism.

Movement springs from breath. Thus your practice internalises, your abilities as well as limitations can be acknowledged. Chance for injury is practically none. Treat warm-up as an essential preparation for lungs.

After you’ve improved circulation, breathing and overall feeling in the body, proceed with

Standing Positions

which set tone of the session. If vigorous, express it with fully engaged leg muscles spending more time in positions. If drowsy, gently activate body. Wake up the sleepy parts. Standing is the most familiar and commonly used position of all. In yoga practice we approach it consciously and analize body in terms of gravity, lines of energy, opposing muscle groups etc.

In next poses we introduce imbalance to observe details unavailable in symetrical positions, for example disbalances in trunk and legs. At the same time, body is gaining strength through maintaining the pose. Improved flexibility is yet another byproduct of this practice. If you treat it that way, you’ll avoid competing with yourself and others.

Final standing position is a tree. Test what you’ve learned in previous poses while improving concentration and balance (the latter depends heavily on the first).

Reclining Positions

For this class I’ve chosen halfbridge, ardha halasana and freeing of the wind, pawanamuktasana. Halfbridge brings life to spine and massages back muscles. Second position takes care of abdominal and spinal health, also releiving muscles cramped from long sitting hours. Also serves as a counterpose for halfbridge and preparatory pose for

Forward Bends

here represented with rowing and preparation for classical forward bend, pascimottanasana. Altough rowing reminds of a warm-up, I’ve included it since forward bends can be a problem for beginners. Muscles which should by elonging enable us to relax into pose are usually stiffened by sitting. Pelvic mobility can also restrict bend. At this point, we’ll utilise

Sitting Position

resting and feeling the accumulated effects of practice so far. Class continues with a camel posture, giving the body first hint of later backbends.

Cat/dog is a unique practice for spine health and pelvis mobility. Muscles of the back and abdomen are alternately stretched and flexed, while fresh blood removes toxins from tissues. In the program progression also serves as a mediator between sitting/kneeling poses and

Backbends

Modern life doesn’t require strong back muscles, therefore causing back atrophy of epidemic proportions. You’ll perfom only simple preparations for backbends, avoiding any strain. Carefull practice reduces back pain and gradually strenghtens muscles of the back.

After bending spine in both frontal planes, we proceed with basic

Spine Torsion

which not only produces flexible spine and stronger back and lats, but also massages kidneys and improves digestion.

Crown Of Yoga Asana Practice

Corpse posture (shavasana)

Challenge here is to surrender completly, while staying in the body. Total immobility often brings unexpected insights into one’s physiology and energetic structure.

Pranayama and concentration are explained later.

Warm-Up

Read this first, then practice using quick summary. That way you.ll maintain tempo and body heat. Apart from the most obvious effect – raising the temperature and easing the movement, lungs get exercised and proper breathing pattern is introduced for rest of the practice. Let the breathing set the tempo. If it quickens, speed up movements. A little sweat is good. Don’t wipe it off, it keeps generated heat in the body.

Neck

On in-breath look up feeling the frontal neck stretch. Jaw is relaxed. Breathe out, letting the head go down, stretch is now in back of the neck.

Inhale and lift the head turning it over your right shoulder. Don’t fix the shoulder, let it turn also. Exhale, bring head to a neutral position and repeat to left.

Exhale back and with the next inhalation let the head go sideways towards right shoulder. Keep breathing and feel the left side of the neck elongating. Don’t push, relax in the gravity field. Exhaling come up and inhaling repeat to the left. Spend few more breaths here, since you’re elongating what has just been contracted.

Shoulders and Arms

Alternately circle arms from shoulders, few times each direction. Lungs should be full when the hand is in the highest position. Don’t pause. Feel the movement translating down the spine.

Then mimic climbing the rope. On inhale, raise arm, make a fist and pull down exhaling. Put some muscle behind it. Alternate arms until a bit tired. Relax for a few breaths. Feel the change in arms and shoulders.

Trunk

Stand a shoulder width apart, arms by your sides. Inhaling, raise the left arm towards ceiling and with the exhalation start sliding with the right hand down the leg. Left hand should function as an extension of the trunk, so don’t bend it too much from the shoulder. Repeat on the other side.

Next, interlock the fingers, inhale and raise arms over head and start circling with them as though you were drawing a circle on the ceiling. Repeat few times in one direction, then reverse. Find the breathing pattern that suits you best. Now quickly relax.

Hips

Legs are still a shoulder width apart, position hands on your waist and start circling the hips. Feel the movement from the inside. Notice weight distribution through your feet. Reverse and relax.

Legs

Alternate between static squat on exhale (feet shoulder width apart, fingers interlocked, palms pointing downwards) and standing on balls of your feet on inhale with arms stretched over head, palms pointing upwards.

Quick chart

  • Neck: up, down, right, left, sideways
  • Shoulders & Arms: circling, rope climbing
  • Trunk: side extension, circling
  • Hips: circling
  • Legs: squat, raised position

Standing positions

Mountain : teaches the importance of alignment in the gravity field. If ankles and knees are weak, pelvis will be out of balance and muscles which are not gravitational will have to maintain upright position. Weak legs will cause pressure in abdominal organs and eventual loss of their vitality. Contraindications: scoliosis, practice with back against the wall

1. Stand with your feet together, stretching from heels towards fingers. Tighten kneecaps and rotate them slightly inwards. At the same time project navel towards spine, thus keeping pelvis in neutral position.

2. With inhalation decompress abdominal area and keep it high. Proceed relaxing and elongating spine upwards. Keep shoulders away from ears, wide and low. Slightly tighten the space between shoulder blades and open the lungs.

3. Keep arms by the sides, alive . nor too tight nor too soft.

4. Relax the head on top of the neck and find the place where it feels weightless. Look straight. Breathe deeply.

Triangle : benefits legs, hips, shoulders, neck, sides of trunk and overall sense of balance. Contraindications: back conditions

1. Spread feet at 1,5 shoulder width. Keep feet parallel. At the same time spread hands at shoulder level and maintain stretch from shoulder to fingers, or better yet, from fingers to fingers.

2. Turn right foot 90 degrees to the right. Keep left hip open at all times. Pull kneecaps up and keep the legs strong.

3. Exhaling slightly bend right knee and put right elbow above right knee. Project left arm towards the ceiling.

4. Look up. Trunk should feel live, so avoid too much weight in right hand. Stay here for a few breaths, with inhalation come up to the starting position and repeat to the other side.

Repeat 3 times each side. Follow the position if it gets deeper, until you place fingers or palm on the ground.

Trikonasana – Triangle

Follow the instructions for preparation. Only difference is front knee which stays straight all the time. Pay extra attention to rear hip, keep opening it while in posture. Contraindications: back conditions

Vrksasana – Tree : develops sense of balance, both physical and emotional. Contraindications: vertigo, heart problems (do not raise arms)

1. Stand in Tadasana. Inhaling, raise right foot from the ground and place it on left leg at the knee level or lower. Keep the hip elevated.

2. Find a balance, aware of inner and outer edge of lower foot as well as fingers and heel. Those are all balancing points now.

3. Bring palms together at heart level. Find a point on the opposite wall at the eye level and mentally hold to it. Inhaling raise arms above head and be motionless for few breaths.

4. With exhalation bring arms to the sides and put your leg down. Stay concentrated, exit the position just as careful as you.ve entered it.

Repeat on the other side.

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