Asanas are known as body postures. According to yogic scripture there are 8.4 million postures. Today we have very condensed form of asanas. Different asanas have their targets in different body parts. This is one of the major contributions of Satyananda Yoga that they have been classified in various categories and all of the practices have undergone well experimentation and researches. There are three major groups of the practices. Every group has been classified in different sub groups. They are:
- Pawanmuktasana series
- Part 1: Anti – rheumatic Group
- Part 2: Digestive/ Abdominal Group
- Part 3: Shakti Bandha Asanas
- Yoga Exercises for the Eyes
- Relaxation Asanas
- Meditation asanas
- Vajrasana Group of Asanas
- Standing Asanas
- Surya Namaskara
- Chandra Namaskara
- Padmasana Group of Asanas
- Backward Bending Asanas
- Forward Bending Asanas
- Spinal Twisting Asanas
- Inverted Asanas
- Balancing Asanas
(Every sub group has several asanas.)
Before mastering the practices from beginners and intermediate groups, we do not recommend to the advanced group of asanas. It is most important to create sufficient flexibility with the muscles and joints to avoid over straining the body. The limbs and joints have to be moved into unusual position in which they are not habituated. Any force or extra effort may damage them. So depending upon the capacity of the aspirants, we suggest for the advanced level of practice.
(We pick up the asanas from various sub groups according to the need and interest of the aspirants).
Pranayama is comprised of two root words: prana and ayama. Prana means ‘vital energy’ or ‘life force’ and ayama means ‘extension’ or ‘expansion’. So the word pranayama means ‘extension or expansion of the dimension of prana’. The practices of pranayama provide the method whereby the life force can be activated and regulated in order to go beyond one’s normal boundaries or limitations and attain higher state of vibratory energy.
There are four major aspects of pranayama. They are:
- Pooraka or inhalation
- Rechaka or exhalation
- Antar kumbhaka or internal breath retention
- Bahir kumbhaka or external breath retention.
All the pranayama practices are categorized under four groups. They are:
- Tranquilizing and
There are various practices under the above mentioned groups.
Bandhas literally mean to ‘hold’, ‘tighten’ or ‘lock’. The bandhas aim to lick the pranas in particular areas and redirect their flow into shshumna nadi for the purpose of spiritual awakening. The bandhas are related to the psychic knots or granthis which have their effects in our personality. Bandhas could be practiced along with the asanas or pranayamas.
Mudras are translated as ‘gestures’ or ‘attitudes’. They can also be described as psychic, emotional, devotional and aesthetic gestures or attitudes. Mudras are a combination of subtle physical movements which alter mood, attitude and perception, and which deepen awareness and concentration. Mudras can be practiced along with the asanas or pranayamas.
Yoga Nidra (Psychic Sleep)/ Relaxation:
Yoga Nidra is a technique of Pratyahara (the fifth stage of Astanga Yoga). It is one of the foremost contributions of Satyananda Yoga. Swami Satyananda Saraswati has derived it from the esoteric practice of Naysa as described in the ancient tantric scriptures. It has been widely beneficial to the people of modern age, leading suffering humanity towards a state of deep relaxation and a tension – free life.
Decreasing sympathetic arousals and cortical excitations in one side and on the other together stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system is one of the most influential effects of this practice. The other convincing aspect of this practice is the visualization that helps to divert the awareness towards positive direction.
During this practice, the individual is gradually liberated from the deep emotional complexes, fears, and inadequacies that are harboured in the subconscious mind. Often they are the impressions of remnants of unpleasant experiences from early childhood. These may never enter conscious awareness, but they nevertheless generate a high level of floating anxiety in daily life, affecting interactions, responses, attitudes and decisions. This is a root cause of constant tension and stress.
This practice unburdens the loads from mind and heart, leading one to regain a child’s emotions and outlook on life: open, simple and spontaneous. This provides enormous mental and emotional relief for the aspirants, who are frequently deeply entwined in the emotional complexes of fear, self-pity, aggression, betrayal or anger. As relaxation occurs, arrested emotions are liberated and the aspirant gradually learns to live, think and feel simply and honestly, expressing feelings openly and honestly. Personality disturbance, due to suppression, is avoided, and outbursts of anger, excitement or passion no longer overwhelm the mind and overtax the other bodily functions.
Imagine the deep relaxation the aspirant would experience if it were freed from lurking anxieties and subconscious tensions. That is what a person in 21st century needs more than anything else and that is what Yoga Nidra (yogic relaxation technique) brings about.
Dharana literally means ‘concentration’ or ‘one – pointedness’. But not just fixation of mind on something. It is a very complex process in which the mind is taken right through the different sates of external, internal and intermediate experiences.