Yoga and Meditation

yoga practice manual

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.

Soma Samadhi Yoga Manual

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

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.

Meditation

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:

  • Lowered stress and increased health
  • Increased clarity & creativity
  • Increased compassion and understanding
  • Increase in positive emotions and a decrease in painful emotions
  • Lowered heart rate and blood pressure
  • Decrease in inflammation
  • Increase in enzymes that slow the aging process.

Helpful focusing techniques during meditation practice:

  • Mantra and Bija:
    • Short, positive, personal affirmation or prayer. Ideally, keep the affirmation in the present tense. For example, “I radiate health” “I am prosperous.”
    • Refer to separate list of mantras and bijas
  • Breath:
    • Easy awareness of your breathing
    • Linking the breath with the mantra of your choice
  • Visualization:
    • Symbols or images that are meaningful to you
    • Focus on a specific chakra
    • Bhavana- A bhavana is a visualization technique used to attain a specific feeling like compassion or love. It can also be used to set an intention or cultivate change in your life by visualizing these changes during meditation.
  • Sankalpa
    • A sankalpa is a personal vow to an intention that comes from your highest truth. Sankalpa can also be understood as a resolution or deep commitment to accomplishing a specific goal. For example, “I will create my own spiritually based business” You may create a sankalpa and meditate upon it.

Key Points to Meditation Practice

  • It is best not have expectations during the meditation practice.
  • It is deal to practice in a clean, clutter-free, and quiet room. It also helps to have the room dimly lit. Quiet, gentle music in the background can support your experience as long it’s not distracting.
  • You will need to find a comfortable seated position with your spine held erect. If you choose to sit on the floor, a cushion will add comfort. For those who find it challenging to sit on the floor, you may sit in a chair.
  • Breathing through the nose at a rate that is calm is essential during meditation. If nose breathing is challenging, simply breathe slowly and consciously to help relax the body.
  • Choose a specific time and duration for your practice. If possible, try to meditate at the same time each day to build consistency. Start with shorter durations, 10 -15 minutes and gradually increase your time spent during each sitting.
  • During meditation, it is common for people to experience a myriad of thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Include these things in your practice without trying to suppress or engage them. Let them come and go. When thoughts arise, recognize that it’s a sign of the body releasing stress.
  • It is also common for people to drift off into sleep. If you find yourself drifting off, bring your awareness back to your body, your breath, and your sitting posture.
  • If you continually fall asleep during your meditations consider examining your lifestyle regarding getting enough sleep, food choices, and workloads.
  • It is most important that you incorporate elements that add grace and ease to your meditation practice. Explore different techniques and remember there is no right or wrong. Each person will have a unique experience. Each sitting offers an opportunity to explore ourselves without expectations, to quietly witness the subtle dimensions of our inner self, and to be open to what is present.

Natarajasana/Dancer Pose

Movement Instructions

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.

Joint Actions

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

Purpose

  • Improves balance
  • Strengthens the musculature of the legs and trunk extensors
  • Stretches the hip flexors of the lifted leg

Anjaneyasana/Crescent Lunge

Movement Instructions

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.

Joint Actions

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

Purpose

  • Strengthens the musculature of the legs, abdomen, arms, and trunk
  • Stretches the hip flexors

Yoga Table Of Contents

Soma Samadhi Yoga Manual

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