सह नाववतु ।सह नौ भुनक्तु ।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ॥

An asana is a body posture, the yoga sutras of patanjali define “asana “as ( a position that) is steady and comfortable”. Patanjali mentions that ability to sit for extended periods as one of the eight limbs of his system.

Practising of asana in a skilled way in order to achieve harmony and a deep relaxation, so that mastery over the dualities of mankind is gained.

Asana were claimed to provide both and spiritual and physical benefits in hatha yoga texts. Asana improve flexibility, strength, and balance; to reduce stress and conditions related to it, and specially to alleviate non-communicable diseases such as asthma, diabetes, etc.

The eight limbs are, in Oder,

  • The yamas (codes of social conduct)
  • Niyamas ( self-observances), asana(postures)
  • Pranayama (breathwork)
  • Pratyahara (sense withdrawal or non attachment)
  • Dharna (concentration)
  • Dhyana (meditation)
  • Samadhi (realization of the true self or atman, and unity with Brahman, ultimately reality)
  • Asanas along with the breathing execises of pranayama, are the physical movements of hatha yoga and of modern yoga. Patanjali descirbes asanas as a “steady and comfortable posture”.

Asana

Asana can be classified in different ways, which may overlap for example, by the position of the head and feet (standing, sitting, recling, inverted), by whether balancing is required, or by the effect on the spine (forward bending, backbend, twist).

YOGA NIDRĀ

Yoga Nidrā is a form of tantra. It is not sleeping. It is not concentration. It is opening the inner chambers of your mind. In Yoga Nidrā, you step down into the internal dimension of your consciousness. Even if you do not understand in Yoga Nidrā, it does not matter. The sound of my voice acts as a rope. Just as you take a rope and go in and out of the depths of a cave, so with the help of sound, you will venture in and out of the mind.

STAGE 1: PREPARATION

Get ready for Yoga Nidrā. Eyes are closed and the body is still. The mind is in a mood to relax. You are not trying to concentrate. Make no effort to control the mind.

You are practising Yoga Nidrā. Become aware of your whole body. You are lying in a beautiful room with other people in the same mental level. Almost everybody is emitting the same frequency of vibration. The whole atmosphere is charged with one type of powerful vibration. In this atmosphere you are lying on your mat. Your body is still.

The sound of your breath is very rhythmic and slow. Your body is in a state of relaxation. Now think mentally, ‘I am going to practise Yoga Nidrā. I am listening to the instructions. A constant communication is taking place between the instructor and me. I can hear the sound of his voice and we are connected; one transmitter and many receivers’.

STAGE 2: RESOLVE

At this point remember that a sankalpa has to be made. The sankalpa is a resolution. You don’t have to make it now, but if you have one, please repeat it. If you can think of one, do it now. If you don’t have one, it can wait. The greatest of all Sankalpas is the resolve to awaken the Kundalini who dwells in Mulādhāra Cakra. If you already have a sankalpa, please repeat it. But if you need one, you can use this Sankalpa: ‘I am awakening Kundalini, who dwells in Mulādhāra Cakra, and makes its headway through Suṣumnā up to Sahastrāra.’ This is the Sankalpa: ‘I am awakening my Kundalini.’

STAGE 3: ROTATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Keep on listening to me and go on doing the practices I indicate. No concentration please. Do not try to analyze things. Become aware of your right hand thumb and mentally say, ‘Right hand thumb.’ No movement.

Right side: Right hand thumb, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm of the hand, back of the hand, wrist, lower arm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, armpit, waist, hip, thigh, knee, calf muscle, ankle, heel, top of the foot, sole of the foot, right big toe, second toe, third toe, fourth toe, fifth toe.

Left side: Now go to the left side. Become aware of the left hand thumb, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm of the hand, back of the hand, wrist, lower arm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, armpit, waist, hip, thigh, knee, calf muscle, ankle, heel, top of the foot, sole of the foot, left big toe, second toe, third toe, fourth toe, fifth toe.

Back: Next go to the back of the body. Back of the head, back of the neck, right shoulder blade, left shoulder blade, right buttock, left buttock, right heel, left heel.

Front: Now the front of the body. Top of the head, forehead, right temple, left temple, right ear, left ear, right eyebrow, left eyebrow, middle of the eyebrows, right eye, left eye, right nostril, left nostril, whole nose, right cheek, left cheek, upper lip, lower lip, both lips together, chin, neck, right collarbone, left collarbone, right side of the chest, left side of the chest, middle of the chest, navel, upper abdomen, lower abdomen, right leg, left leg, right arm, left arm, the whole of the head. Become aware of the whole body, the whole body, the whole body.

STAGE 4: BODY/ FLOOR CONTACT

Become aware of the body lying on the floor. There is a point where the body is in contact with the floor. Bring your awareness to that particular point of contact. The heels and the floor. Both the heels are on the floor and there is a point where they touch the floor. Now, from the top of the body. The head and the floor, the back and the floor, the right hand and the floor, the left hand and the floor, the right elbow and the floor, the left elbow and the floor, the buttocks and the floor, the hamstrings and the floor, the heels and the floor. Imagine the meeting points of the body and the floor, the whole body and the floor. The body is on the floor. Become aware of the whole body. Do not contract and do not expand.

STAGE 5: AWARENESS OF SENSATIONS

Heaviness: Just imagine in your mind that the body is becoming very heavy. Awaken the idea of heaviness in the body. Gradually feel that the body is becoming heavier and heavier. The head is becoming heavy. The right palm is heavy, the left palm is heavy. Both arms and the shoulders are heavy. The back is heavy, the buttocks and the groin are heavy. The right thigh is heavy, the left thigh is heavy. Kneecaps are heavy, legs are heavy, arms are heavy, the whole head is heavy, the eyes are heavy, and the lips are heavy. The whole body is heavy. Keep on thinking that the whole body is heavy. Intensify the feeling of heaviness. Then, gradually relax, part by part.

Lightness: Now feel the whole body becoming lighter and lighter. The head is light, so light that it can even rise from the floor. The right and left palms are becoming lighter. Both arms and both shoulders are light. The back is light, the buttocks and groin are light. The right thigh is light. The left thigh is light. The right heel and left heel are light. The whole body is light and weightless. When your body becomes weightless, you feel as if it is rising from the floor as if your whole body is a mass of cotton.

Alternation of heaviness and lightness: Cotton represents lightness and steel represents heaviness. Now practise these two experiences alternately. The whole body is steel; the whole body is steel. There are no bones, marrow or blood, just a steel frame. Change the idea. The whole body is cotton. The whole body is as light as cotton. There are no bones, marrow or blood, everything is composed of cotton. The whole body is as light as cotton.

Again, change the idea. The whole body is like steel, heavy steel, no bone, marrow or blood. The whole body is as heavy as steel. Change the idea. The whole body is as light as cotton. Feel as if the body was composed of cotton. Cotton is so light it can rise up from the floor.

Heat: Now change the idea to heat. Imagine you are near a burning furnace and you feel intense heat. Now the whole body should experience the heat of a blazing furnace, of the hot tropical sun. Awaken the experience of heat as vividly as possible.

Cold: Change the experience. The whole body is experiencing the cold winds that blow from the snowy mountains, the same cold one feels in a deep freezer. The experience of cold, awaken the experience of cold.

STAGE 6: RAPID VISUALIZATION

Bring your mind to the eyebrow centre. Do not leave that point until I tell you to. I will enumerate a few objects and as I name each one, try to visualize it very quickly. If you cannot, don’t worry. Keep on following my instructions. Sometimes I will go very slowly, and sometimes very fast. I will also come back to the image a number of times. Some of the images may be known to you, but do not think too much. The image should shine by itself.

Bring your awareness to the eyebrow centre. Darkness, pink rose, waves on the ocean, blue sky in the evening, dark night, tiny shining stars studded in the heavens, high mountain range with snow-capped peaks, a ship sailing in the high seas, white sandy beach, virgin forest with tall and dense trees, a dove, a galloping horse, a small hut in the woods, burning fire in the bush, stormy night, full moon, mountain stream, a lonely rock in the mountains, big garden of blooming flowers, rising sun.

Keep your awareness focused at the eyebrow centre. Visualize a large lake with lotus flowers, a sailing boat, people swimming, a lonely wooden hut in the mountains, a desolate valley, a high mountain with snow-capped peaks, a quiet evening, beautiful sunset, chirping birds, tiger in the forest, elephant, cobra, symbol of Om, sound of a bell ringing, waves on the ocean, ship at sail, full moon, calm and quiet evening in a moonlit valley, mountain stream, refreshing cold bath in the mountain stream, experience of exhilaration.

Now become aware of the breath. Inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right. Start to practise mental alternate nostril breathing: left in, right out; right in, left out.

Come back to the middle of the eyebrows again. Visualize the rising sun, red like a tomato, clouds gathering in the sky, drizzling rain, fog all around, pink rose, sunflower, apple, lecture leaf, hot water spring, tall palm tree, cluster of grapes, symbol of Om, lonely wooden hut in the valley, snow-capped peaks, mountain stream, cold bath, ship at sail on the sea, lotus on a lake, people swimming.

STAGE 7: CHAKRA VISUALIZATION

Now develop awareness of the cakrās and their positions in the spine. Mulādhāra Cakra at the perineum, in between the urinary and excretory organs. In women it is at the base of the uterus. Awareness at Mulādhāra. Don’t contract the point, but try to feel spontaneous contractions there. Imagine contractions, but don’t contract. Contractions at Mulādhāra.

Next, at the base of the spine, is Svādhiṣṭhāna. In the vertebral column behind the navel, is Maṇipura. Behind the heart is Anāhata. At the throat is Viśuddhi. At the top of the vertebral column is Ājñā. At the top back of the head is Bindu. And at the crown of the head is Sahastrāra. Try to remember the location of the chakras. Repeat the names mentally after me and mentally touch your spine very rapidly at the correct point. Even if you cannot feel it, this does not matter.

Repeat the name mentally after I say it: Mulādhāra, Svādhiṣṭhāna, Maṇipura, Anāhata, Viśuddhi, Ājñā, Bindu, Sahastrāra, Bindu, Ājñā, Viśuddhi, Anāhata, Maṇipura, Svādhiṣṭhāna, Mulādhāra, Svādhiṣṭhāna, Maṇipura, Anāhata, Viśuddhi, Ājñā, Bindu, Sahastrāra, Bindu, Ājñā, Viśuddhi, Anāhata, Maṇipura, Svādhiṣṭhāna, Mulādhāra.

STAGE 8: FINISH

Now, to complete the practice, become aware of the whole body. Think that ‘I am practising Yoga Nidrā’. Visualize your whole body and everybody in this room. Become aware of the external environment. Become aware of yourself. Say to you, ‘I am practising Yoga Nidrā. Everybody around me is practising Yoga Nidrā. I am visualizing my body and everybody here.’

Next, repeat your Sankalpa three times. If you have one, use it. But if you don’t have one, try to find one for yourself. If you want, I will suggest one: ‘I am awakening my Kundalini who dwells in Mulādhāra Cakra, who moves through Suṣumnā and makes its headway to Sahastrāra.’

Become aware of your external environment. Come out of the spirit of Yoga Nidrā and return to normal awareness. Open your eyes and slowly sit up.

REFERENCE

Yoga Nidrā- Swami Satyananda (Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India)