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Actually, however, they have profound effects at every level of being if they are combined with awareness. Awareness has many connotations, in this context, but it may be understood as consciously noting the physical movement, the posture itself, breath control and synchronization, mental counting, sensations in the body, movement of prana, concentration on an area of the body or chakra and, most important, any thoughts or feelings that may arise during the practice.

In the final analysis, thoughts are energy, neither good nor bad. This awareness is essential in order to receive optimum benefits from the practices. Relaxation: Shavasana may be performed at any point during asana practice, especially when feeling physically or mentally tired. It should also be practiced on completion of the asana program. Sequence: After completing shatkarma, asana should be done, followed by pranayama, then pratyahara and dharana which lead to meditation.

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This concept of counterpose is necessary to bring the body back to a balanced state. Specific counterposes are recommended for certain asanas described in this book. However, in some cases, when practicing a particular asana for therapeutic reasons, a counterpose may not be needed. Time of practice: Asana may be practiced at any time of day except after meals. The best time, however, is the two hours before and including sunrise.

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This period of the day is known in Sanskrit as brahmamuhurta and is most conducive to the higher practices of yoga. At this time, the atmosphere is pure and quiet, the activities of the stomach and intestines have stopped, the mind has no deep impressions on the conscious level and it is empty of thoughts in preparation for the long day ahead. The practitioner will probably find that the muscles are stiffest early in the morning compared to the late afternoon when they become more supple, nevertheless this time is recommended for practice.

In the evening the two hours around sunset are also a favorable time. Place of practice: Practice in a well-ventilated room where it is calm and quiet. Asanas may also be practiced outdoors but the surroundings should be pleasant, a beautiful garden with trees and flowers, for example. Do not practice in a strong wind, in the cold, in air that is dirty, smoky or which carries an unpleasant odor. Do not practice in the vicinity of furniture, a fire or anything that prevents free fall to the ground, especially while performing asanas such as sirshasana. Many accidents occur because people fall against an object.

Do not practice under an electric fan unless it is extremely hot. Do not use a mattress which is spongy or filled with air as this does not give sufficient support to the spine. Clothes: During practice it is better to wear loose, light and comfortable clothing. Before commencing, remove spectacles, wristwatches and any jewelry. Bathing: Try to take a cold shower before starting. This will greatly improve the effect of the asanas. Emptying the bowels: Before commencing the asana program, the bladder and intestines should preferably be empty.


If constipated, drink two or three glasses of warm, slightly salted water and practice the asanas given in the chapter on shankhaprakshalana, namely tadasana, tiryaka tadasana, kati chakrasana, tiryaka bhujangasana and udarakarshan asana. This should relieve the constipation. If not, practicing pawanmuktasana part two should help. Choose one time daily to go to the toilet before doing asanas. Do not strain; try to relax the whole body.

After some weeks the bowels will automatically evacuate at the set time every day. Try to avoid using laxative drugs. Empty stomach: The stomach should be empty while doing asanas and to ensure this, they should not be practiced until at least three or four hours after food. One reason why early morning practice is recommended is that the stomach is sure to be empty. Diet: There are no special dietary rules for asana practitioners although it is better to eat natural food and in moderation. Contrary to popular belief, yoga does not say that a vegetarian diet is essential although in the higher stages of practice it is recommended.

ISBN 13: 9788186336144

At meal times it is advised to half fill the stomach with food, one quarter with water and leave the remaining quarter empty. Eat only to satisfy hunger and not so much that a feeling of heaviness or laziness occurs. Eat to live rather than live to eat. Foods which cause acidity or gas in the digestive system, which are heavy, oily and spicy, should be avoided, especially when asanas are practiced with a spiritual aim.

Specific dietary restrictions are recommended for certain diseases, see chapter Therapeutic Index. Beginners may find their muscles stiff at first, but after several weeks of regular practice they will be surprised to find that their muscles are more supple.

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Age limitations: Asana may be practiced by people of all age groups, male and female. Contra-indications: People with fractured bones or who are suffering from chronic ailments and diseases such as stomach ulcer, tuberculosis or hernia, and those recuperating from operations, should consult a yoga teacher or doctor before commencing asanas. Termination of asana: If there is excessive pain in any part of the body the asana should be terminated immediately and, if necessary, medical advice sought. Do not stay in an asana if discomfort is felt.

Inverted asana: Do not practice any inverted asanas if there is gas or fermentation in the intestines, if the blood is excessively impure, during menstruation or in later stages of pregnancy. This is important to ensure that toxins do not go to the brain and cause damage, and, in the case of menstruation, that blood does not enter the fallopian tubes.

Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha - Asheville Yoga Center

Sunbathing: Never practice asanas after a long period of sunbathing as the body will be overheated. It is one of the special contributions of Bihar School of Yoga and the teachings of Paramahamsa Satyananda. Being the first practical series taught in hatha yoga, it is essential for laying a firm foundation in yogic life.