Yoga Training TipsNovember 13, 2007
How to get the most out of your personal yoga practice
Your methods of training in the internal arts will vary as the years pass. In the beginning your priority is to learn the form upon which you will base your practice. Yoga practice in the vinyasa (or flow) sequence starts with learning the individual postures upon which the sequence is based. In the flow series I practice and teach, there are 36 postures linked together. Each posture is linked to the next posture in order to balance the previous posture. This method of balancing the poses prevents injury. It also helps you to work on your breath. I always use the system of inhaling on any extension and exhaling on any contraction. When I stay in a pose I just let the breath function by itself. Remember all breathing should start in the lower abdominal area gradually filling the solar plexus and finishing in the upper chest when inhaling and starting in the upper chest when exhaling, moving down the solar plexus and finally to the lower abdominal region where you slightly squeeze the remaining breath out at the end of the exhale. Practice the full yogic breath during your whole practice session. Synchronize your breath with the movement of your body. The inhale should start at the beginning of the posture and last until the end of the movement. For example let us follow the movement of breath and body from downward facing dog into extended seal. Exhale from downward facing dog all the way into extended seal. Inhale from extended seal all the way up to downward facing dog. Practice this movement over and over again until the breath and body movement coincide. Remember to use the full yogic breath all the time. You could set a timer for 10-15 minutes and only do the above practice totally concentrating on the above vinyasa.This simple movement could form the basis of your personal practice for the day. Remember to always warm up before starting practice. The warm up could consist of easy stretches and joint opening exercises like rotating the arms in circles. It is important to work the eyes by moving them up and down, side to side and clockwise and counter clockwise for 20 reps. Work the neck by moving it from side to side and up and down. Coordinate the breath with the warm up movements as described above.
So now you are ready for the days practice. Warm up sufficiently, do a movement coordinated with the breath for 25 reps and start the series you have been practicing. Try to concentrate on the breath, breath thru the nose only. (This stimulates the chakra between your eyebrows). Let the breath draw your concentration inside of your body. Know the postures well enough so that your full attention is on the breath. Let the breath fill your whole psyche. This resembles a long dance, flowing with fluid movements. Open and extend your body and at the same time relax into the postures. This is true meditation in motion. When your postures end remember to stay in corpse pose for at least 10-15 minutes, slowly relaxing all of the muscles and joints in your body. Before ending practice massage the middle of the soles of each of your feet vigorously moving energy away from your head so that you don’t experience lightheadedness.
For spiritual growth keep awareness on the breath. Let the breath lead you to your soul. Feel the connection of mind body and soul manifest thru your consistent practice. Let the dance begin.