By Faye Martins
Classically, Yoga poses or asanas were practiced to prepare a Yogi or Yogini for meditation. Yoga poses open up and elongate the entire body. One of the most optimal ways to prepare for meditation is the combination of asana practice with breathing exercises. This combination will soothe and balance your nervous system while releasing muscular tension throughout the body. If your body is relaxed, open and pain free, you will be able to sink more deeply into a meditative state and to stay in that state for a longer period of time. If you practice Yoga poses prior to your formal practice of meditation, you will feel physically energized and relaxed. By combining the practice of pranayama exercises with Yoga asanas, both your body and mind will be optimally prepared for your meditation session.
* Seated Twist Yoga Pose
To practice Seated Twist, sit on your Yoga mat. If your hips are tight, you may wish to place a folded blanket underneath you for added support. Before you begin, take a few deep full breaths. With your next inhale, raise your right arm up along side your right ear with your palm facing towards your left side. With your next exhale, bring your right hand down across your chest and place your palm on your left knee. You may wish to increase the stretch by placing the back of your right hand outside your left knee. Place your left hand directly behind you with your palm flat on your Yoga mat and 6-8 inches behind your sacrum.
Gently press against your left knee with your right hand as you exhale. With your next inhale, release the twist a few inches and with your next exhale twist back into the pose more deeply. Continue this pulsation of opening and contracting with your breath for several breaths. When you are ready to come out of the pose, with your next inhale raise your right arm back up above your head as you release your left hand. Place both arms down by your sides and pause to feel the elongation throughout your torso. When you are ready, repeat the pose on the left hand side.
* Bhastrika Pranayama
This breathing exercise is a very effective tool for increasing energy throughout the body while simultaneously soothing and quieting the mind. Bhastrika Pranayama is also known as Bellows Breaths because it resembles the movement of a bellows while stoking a fire. To practice Bhastrika Pranayama, sit in Easy Seat on your Yoga mat. Take a few deep breaths. This practice is vigorous and some forcefulness should be applied on both the inhale and exhale portion of the breath. With your next inhale, begin to make a hissing sound as you inhale fully then forcefully expel the air while maintaining the hissing sound. Each inhale and exhale should only be a few seconds long. Do a set of eleven breaths and then rest for several regular breaths. Repeat two more times. Complete your practice of Bhastrika Pranayama by taking three, slow complete Yogic breaths. Pause to feel the energy pulsating throughout your entire being.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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