Here is some helpful content from my 260 page yoga manual. The manual is available to purchase as a PDF download. There is a complete table of contents at the bottom of this page.
Yoga Asana Practice
Yoga Asana is the third limb in the eight limb path of Raja Yoga. With respect to the idea of achieving “a steady, comfortable posture,” it’s important to approach asana practice as a way to create a balanced body and mind.
Yoga Asana is a great way to improve overall health and well-being in the body and mind by developing neuromotor skills, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility. The key to a safe and therapeutic practice is to design a balanced sequence that does not overload any one area to the exclusion of another.
A holistic approach to asana, integrates the entire body and mind, so that all systems of the body work in harmony. As you practice asana, bring your awareness to all aspects of your movement, the alignment of your body, and your breathing. Practicing with mindful awareness and a sense of calmness will help you receive the greatest benefits from your asana practice.
Remember, every human body is unique and beautiful, so the postures will look different depending on one’s physical capacity, body proportions, and the anatomical structure of the joints. Approach your asana practice with the understanding that asana is a therapeutic practice informed by modern science and designed to balance the body, mind, and overall energy.
Neuromotor training, sometimes called “functional fitness,” refers to the relationship between the nervous system and movement. The benefits of neuromotor training include the development of motor skills such as coordination, gait, agility, proprioception, and balance. Exercises that build these skills become increasingly important as we age.
Practicing asana in a slow and precise manner offers many opportunities to build neuromotor skills by challenging the neuromuscular system. As you work on correcting your postural alignment, improving your balance, and moving more efficiently through space, you will slowly release postural misalignments. These misalignments may have caused pain, distress or unwanted compensatory movements.
Yogic Prescription for Neuromotor Training– Practicing one-legged balancing asanas is a great way to begin to develop these skills. Ideally, approaching your entire asana practice with conscious, kinesthetic awareness of your movements will bring about results.
The purpose of Meditation is to decrease mental activity. It is the practice of transitioning from external awareness to an internal, quiet state. The practice of meditation enables you to start to experience pure consciousness or “the space between two thoughts.” We are usually unaware of this space due to our constant mental activity, but by directing our mind towards stillness and quiet, we can slip into this “space.” This mental state is an expanded state of unlimited potential and connection to our true self. There are numerous studies that have measured the physical and psychological benefits of meditation.
The benefits of a meditation practice include:
Helpful focusing techniques during meditation practice:
Key Points to Meditation Practice
Begin by standing and establishing balance on your left leg. Bend your right knee and grab your right foot with your right hand. Lift your left arm up. Lower the trunk as you extend your right leg back, plantarflexing your foot. Sustain the balance by actively reaching out with your left arm and contracting the muscles of your thigh and leg. Hold your hips square.
Trunk- Extension of the trunk at the spinal joints
Forward Arm/Forearm/Scapula- Flexion of the arm at the shoulder joint, extension of the forearm at the elbow joint, pronation of the forearm at the radioulnar joint, protraction and upward rotation of the scapula at the scapulocosal joint
Back Arm/Forearm/Scapula- Extension and lateral rotation of the arm at the shoulder joint, extension of the forearm at the elbow joint, supination of the forearm at the radioulnar joint, retraction and downward rotation of the scapula at the scapulocostal joint
Pelvis- Anterior tilt of the pelvis at the hip joint
Lifted Thigh/Leg/Foot- Extension of the thigh at the hip joint, flexion moving into extension of the leg at the knee joint, plantarflexion of the foot at the ankle joint
Supporting Thigh/Leg/Foot- Flexion of the thigh at the hip joint, extension of the leg at the knee joint, dorsiflexion of the foot at the ankle joint
Begin in Mountain Pose. Extend your left back with your foot dorsiflexed and toes on the floor. Bend your right knee so that it is lined up with your ankle. Lift your arms up by your ears. Keep your thigh muscles engaged and your hips and shoulders square. Engage your abdominal muscles.
Trunk- Neutral or slight Extension of the trunk at the spinal joints
Arm/Forearm/Scapula- Flexion of the arm at the shoulder joint, extension of the forearm at the elbow joint, upward rotation and protraction of the scapula at the scapulocostal joint, pronation of the forearm at the radioulnar joints
Front Thigh/Leg/Foot- Flexion of the thigh at the hip joint, flexion of the leg at the knee joint, dorsiflexion of the foot at the ankle joint
Back Thigh/Leg/Foot- Extension of the thigh at the hip joint, extension of the leg at the knee joint, dorsiflexion of the foot at the ankle joint
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