What Is Yoga?
Off The Mat
Sample Daily Practice in the Himalayan Tradition
Makarasana/Crocodile. Use as a transition from external to
internal world. Begin with awareness of body then breath (smooth, even,
silent, without pauses, breaks or jerks) then mind (watch the thoughts
without getting attached, train your concentration). Roll over into
pose for a few minutes – maintain awareness of relaxed body and
breath, alert, focused, calm mind.
1:1 then 2:1 breathing –
after establishing equal length and force of exhalation and inhalation
with no pauses or gaps, gradually let the exhalation lengthen to twice as
long as inhalation. Take time to let this happen without sense of effort
or strain in breath.
Joints and Glands
with eyes closed and on your back in shavasana, from head to toes.
Do 3 repetitions each side with 3 complete breaths in between each.
Turn head side to side, moving to side
on exhale, to center on inhale
Arms in basket (palms holding opposite
elbows or wrists) and circle to side, toward navel, to other side, up
toward the head – to warm up shoulders, elbows, mid back
Rotate hands to open wrist joints and
stretch fingers to open finger joints
Rotate/circle right leg then left –
circles with thigh first to open hip joint then keep thigh stationary
and rotate lower leg to open knee joint then keep leg stationary and
rotate foot to open ankle joint. Stretch and wiggle your toes.
Hip opener – exhale right knee toward
left ankle, inhale knee up to center, exhale left knee toward right
ankle, inhale knee up to center. Move with the breath five times on
each side then hold position for three complete breaths on each side.
Shavasana – release holding in body,
awareness of breath at navel center
Turn to left side for 3 breaths then
onto hands (under shoulders) and knees (under hips) with spine straight.
A & P (akanchana
prasarana) – from hands and knees. With movement of breath – on
exhale, strengthen the movement of the lower abdomen and navel center
toward the spine, release and relax on inhale. Start the exhale at the
lowest part of the abdomen and squeeze from there gradually up to the
navel center – release in opposite direction (like a rolling pin from
pubic bone to navel center and back) – then move into
Cat stretch – exhaling, tuck tailbone,
arch up through LOWER back. Inhaling come to neutral spine position,
elongate spine, open collarbones. Move with breath.
Cat stretch to side – with torso
parallel to floor, exhale looking over one shoulder to look back at your
heel, inhale center, exhale to other side etc. Finish off with some
regular cat stretches.
Tuck toes under and walk your hands
towards your knees, push up into a squat.
Bring weight to heels and come into
supported standing forward bend -rest chest on thighs, knees bent,
release head and shoulders, roll up to standing.
Mountain Pose – aware of base of pose – balance of 3 points on each
foot, legs relaxed, pelvis not tipped front or back, spine long and
relaxed, shoulders down, arms and hands relaxed. Length through back of
neck, chin parallel to floor. Relaxed abdomen, breathe diaphragmatically.
Warm ups from
Neck warm ups: head to side – exhale and
look over right shoulder inhale to center, exhale to left side, inhale
center. With movement 3 times each side.
Neck warm ups: ear to ceiling – with
chin parallel and neck long then exhale right ear toward ceiling (left
ear comes towards left shoulder), inhale to center, exhale side to side,
inhale to center. Arms and shoulders relaxed and down.
Neck warm ups: turtle – inhale bringing
chin directly forward, exhale bringing chin directly back, making a
double chin. Repeat several times with the breath.
Shoulder rolls – inhale shoulders to
ears, exhale shoulders forward and down, inhale back and up. Repeat
several times with arms relaxed. Rotate in opposite direction ending
with shoulders down and back.
Standing side stretch – Inhale right arm
up to shoulder height, turn palm up then bring arm up above head.
Inhaling stretch up, exhaling release palm toward top of head head.
Keeping this softness, inhale and stretch up and a bit to left, feeling
stretch along right side from lower ribs through underarm, arm and
hand. Breathe. Exhale right arm down to shoulder height, palm down then
bring arm back to side. Repeat with left arm.
Clasp hands behind hips. Relax arms and
let shoulder blades move down while lifting collar bones.
Arm Swings – swing arms in front of
body. Alternate arm on top.
Standing spinal twist – feet a bit wider
apart, arms swing freely side to side
- Tadasana to
begin and finish all standing work
- Agni Sara
and/or stomach lift
balance eg tree, pose of 4 directions, eagle
- Warrior I, II
- Extended Side
Stretch – Parsvakonasana
Sun Salutation (Surya
extensions (choose one/some)
- Cobra –
- Downward Dog –
Adho Mukha Svanasana
back extensions with a forward bend!
- Child’s pose
- Seated wide
leg forward bend
Pranayama – from
a relaxed seated position so head neck and trunk straight
Lying twist – lay
on your side with knees bent to about 90 degrees and bring palms
together directly out from chest; move top palm forward and back a few
times then lift top arm and settle behind your body. Relax entire body and
breathe smoothly. Before finishing – bring the mind up through the spine
from the tailbone to the top of the head.
- Legs up the
wall (viparita karani variation) or
karani – begin in legs up the wall then place soles of feet flat on wall
with knees bent. Using the legs as support, lift pelvis slowly off floor
until you are resting on back from shoulder blades to near top of
shoulders (don’t come up off of shoulder blades). Bring elbows in and
palms to lower back/hip area. Release one then both feet off wall and
extend legs upward through soles and balls of feet. Feet come above
head and body shape is in a wide V. To come out, place one then both
feet on wall and slowly return spine to floor. Rest then move knees to
side and come out of pose.
with Little Bridge On the back, knees bent and heels close to
buttocks. Begin by exhaling navel and spine toward floor, release on
exhale. Then begin to move the pelvis and abdomen up off the floor. Work
slowly moving the back off and onto the floor one vertebra at a time. Let
the breath flow smoothly.
progressive systematic relaxation then you could add counting the breath
1:5:5:1. Other shavasana
practices include blue star, 61
points, shitali karina and yoga
nidra. When you finish, roll onto your left side for a minimum of 7
complete breaths, then sit for 5 minutes with awareness of breath at
navel center and flow of breath in the nostrils and/or practice
maintain complete awareness of body from head to toes and of the breath.
Move with the breath whenever possible. At all times, be sure there is no
holding in the breath. Keep the breath flowing in a smooth, even rhythm.
Keep the mind focused in the present moment.
The perfect pose is one