Tuesday, September 29, 2009

EXTENDED TRIANGLE POSE IN DYNAMIC YOGA

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UTTHITA TRIKONASANA

Extended Triangle

The extended triangle posture creates balance, poise, and sharp focus. In the Dynamic yoga series, it is the beginning of the extended hip openers. As you practice, work with the bandhas to deepen the breath and improve your balance. Hold the full pose for five to eight breaths, and then repeat on the left side.

1
Stand with your feet about 3ft (1m) apart, hands on your hips. Inhaling, extend your arms out to the sides, palms facing down. Turn your right foot out 90° so that the toes point toward the end of the mat. Point the right kneecap in the same direction as the right toes. Keep the front of the body facing forward.

2 Exhaling, tilt the pelvis to the right. Keeping the spine straight, reach through the fingertips of the right hand. Turn your left foot slightly to the right. Turn your head to gaze over the right middle finger.

3 At the end of the exhale, bring the right arm down until the fingertips rest on the floor just outside the right foot. Reach up with the left arm, lengthening both sides of the torso and extending through the crown of the head. Keep both feet evenly grounded, and spread the toes. Hold the full pose for five to eight breaths. Inhale to return to step 1 and repeat on the other side. Then jump back to the top of the mat and prepare to jump out to the side ready for the next pose.

THE PRACTICE OF DYNAMIC YOGA

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THE PRACTICE

STANDING POSES


Now that you have warmed up the body adequately and aligned your breath, it is time to begin the standing Dynamic yoga postures. With this selection of standing asanas, you will learn balance and the importance of alignment. Be patient: with practice and application you will soon notice an improvement in your physical ability and mental focus.


TRANSITION MOVE

Jumping Out to the Side


Jumping is a transitional movement you can use after completing the Sun Salutations and also, if you wish, between the standing yoga poses shown on pages 48 to 67. It is an exhilarating move and excellent for developing stamina and coordination. Do not jump if you suffer from back or knee problems, or during menstruation. In these cases it is better simply to step out and back.

1
Stand at the front of the mat with your feet together. Bring your hands together in the prayer position in front of your chest. Exhaling, squat down and prepare to jump. Hold your weight slightly forward. Gaze ahead.

2
Inhaling, jump, spreading your arms out wide. Lift both feet off the floor simultaneously, and turn your entire body 90° to the right.

3
At the end of the inhale, land with both feet at the same time and your knees bent. Your feet should be about 3ft (1m) apart along the length of the mat. Gaze forward.

4
Exhaling, straighten both legs, turning your feet slightly inward, so that the outer edge of each foot is parallel to the edges of the mat. You are now ready to move into the next yoga pose.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

SURYA NAMASKARA ‘B’ IN DYNAMIC YOGA

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SURYA NAMASKARA B


Sun Salutation B


A longer sequence of movements than Sun Salutation A, Sun Salutation B farther strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, stretching the breath and building up heat within your body. The transitional moves between the new postures are particularly demanding. When you have completed the sequence, repeat, leading with the other leg.

1 Tadasana Stand tall, your feet together, arms by your sides. Distribute your weight equally across the soles of your feet and spread the toes evenly. Exhaling, draw the lower belly in and up, while raising the center of the perineum, bringing awareness to mula bandha. Gaze straight ahead.

2 Utkatasana Inhaling, reach up with your arms and press your palms together. Bend your knees and draw back the lower belly and sitting bones into a standing squat.

3 Uttanasana Exhaling, fold your body forward, drawing back the pubic bone and bending at the hips. Bring your arms down and place your palms on the floor beside your feet. Let your head hang down, and gaze at your navel or between your legs.

4 Ardha Uttanasana Inhaling, lift your torso, keeping your spine straight and your leg muscles engaged. Straighten your arms, touching the floor in front of your toes with your fingertips. Look at the floor slightly in front.

5 Transition Exhaling, shift your weight forward onto the hands and bend your arms. Engaging mula and uddiyana bandha raise your hips in the air and propel the legs backward. Land with your feet hip width apart. Look down at the floor.

6 Chaturanga Dandasana Exhaling, lower your body 4–6in (10–15cm) above the floor and parallel to it in the push-up position. Keep your shoulders square and elbows close to the body. Gaze down at the floor.

7 Urdhva Mukha Svanasana Inhaling, roll forward over your toes, so the tops of your feet are resting on the floor. Straighten your arms and pull your hips forward, arching your spine and stretching the belly. Gaze slightly upward.

8 Adho Mukha Svanasana Exhaling, roll back over your toes and pull back the pubic bone as you lower your heels toward the floor. Do not change the position of your hands or feet. Push your hips up in the air, stretch the spine long, and press away from the floor with the base of your fingers. Tuck in your chin very slightly, and gaze at your navel.

9 Transition Begin inhaling as you step forward with your right foot. Make sure your right knee is also facing forward. Move forward onto the ball of your left foot. Gaze down between your hands.

10 Transition Continue inhaling as you place your right foot between your hands and parallel to them. Make sure the knee is directly over the ankle. Raise your head to gaze slightly forward.

11 Transition As you continue inhaling, turn your left heel in about 45° and place the left foot flat on the floor. Sweep your arms out to the sides, turning the palms up. Gaze ahead.

12 Virabhadrasana A At the end of the inhale brings your palms together above your head, extend through the fingertips, and lengthen the torso. Keep your right knee directly over the ankle. Draw in the ribs to prevent the lower back from arching. Lift the center of the perineum, engaging mula bandha. Gaze at the thumbs.

13 Transition Begin exhaling as you move your arms out and down toward the floor. Place your hands directly below your shoulders, palms flat on the floor. Lift the heel of your left foot and gaze down and slightly forward. Step back with your right foot so it is parallel with the left.

14 Chaturanga Dandasana Exhaling, lower your body 4–6in (10–15cm) above the floor and parallel to it. Keep your shoulders square and elbows close to the body. Gaze down at the floor.

15 Urdhva Mukha Svanasana Inhaling, pull your hips forward and roll forward over your toes. Arch your spine and stretch the belly. Gaze slightly upward.

16 Adho Mukha Svanasana Exhaling, roll back over your toes and raise your hips as you lower your heels toward the floor. Press away from the floor with the roots of your fingers.

17 Virabhadrasana B Inhaling, step the left foot forward and bend the left knee to make a 90° angle. Keep the right leg outstretched and both feet flat on the floor. Sweep up with your arms and press your palms together. Gaze up at your thumbs.

18 Chaturanga Dandasana Exhaling, sweep your arms out and down toward the floor. Place your hands directly below your shoulders. Step back with your left foot and lower your body so it is parallel to the floor, keeping your legs firm and straight. Draw your navel to the spine and gaze at the floor.

19 Urdhva Mukha Svanasana Inhaling, roll forward over your toes so the tops of your feet are resting on the floor. Straighten your arms, lift your chest, and arch your spine. Gaze ahead and slightly upward.

20 Adho Mukha Svanasana Exhaling, roll over your toes onto the soles of your feet, pressing the heels to the floor. Lift your hips high toward the ceiling and draw back the pubic bone. Extend your spine long. Gaze at your navel.

21 Transition Exhaling, hop forward. Push off your feet with legs slightly bent and raise your hips high in the air, engaging both mula and uddiyana bandha. Straighten your legs in a pike and bring them in toward your body. Keep your arms straight. Gaze at the floor.

22 Transition At the end of the exhale, land with both feet together between your hands. Bend your knees slightly as you land in a crouch position. Distribute your weight equally throughout your hands and feet.

23 Ardha Uttanasana Inhaling, lift your sternum and straighten your spine. Straighten your arms, touching the floor in front of your toes with your fingertips. Keep your kneecaps lifted. Gaze at the floor ahead.

24 Uttanasana Exhaling, fold the body forward from the hips, lengthening the spine all the way down. Reach for the floor with the crown of your head and place your palms flat on the floor beside, and parallel to, your feet. Gaze at your navel.

25 Utkatasana Inhaling, sweep your arms out to the sides and raise them above your head. Bend your knees and draw back the lower belly and sitting bones into a standing squat. Bring your palms together at the end of the breath.

26 Tadasana Exhaling, straighten your legs and lower your arms by your side, palms inward. Stand very tall and lengthen the entire body. Gaze forward.

Friday, September 25, 2009

THE SUN SALUTATIONS METHOD IN DYNAMIC YOGA

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THE SUN SALUTATIONS

Sun Salutation A

The Sun Salutation sequences warm up the body and draw the attention to the rhythm of the breath. Each movement is synchronized to an inhalation or exhalation. Sun Salutation A builds up muscular strength and is particularly important for strengthening the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It can also alleviate depression and anxiety. This is a very important technique in Dynamic Yoga.

1 Tadasana Stand tall, your feet together, arms by your sides. Distribute your weight equally across the soles of your feet and spread the toes evenly. Exhaling, draw the lower belly in and up, and raise the center of the perineum as you lifts the core of your body, bringing awareness to mulabandha.
Gaze straight ahead.

2 Raised Tadasana Inhaling, sweep your arms out to the sides of the body and raise them high above your head. Press your palms together at the end of the breath. Look up at your thumbs.

3 Uttanasana Exhaling, pull back the pubic bone and fold your body forward. Place your hands flat on the floor either side of, and parallel to, your feet. At the end of the exhale, gaze at your navel.

4 Ardha Uttanasana Inhaling, look up, lifting the torso halfway up. Straighten the spine and pull back the pubic bone. Straighten your arms and place your fingertips on the floor. Gaze slightly forward.

5 Transition Begin exhaling as you bend your knees to crouch. Place your hands flat on the floor in front of your toes. Shift your weight forward evenly into your hands, as though about to do a handstand.

6 Transition Hop backward as you continue exhaling. Use your core body strength to lift your feet off the ground and propel your legs backward. Keep your legs straight and strong, landing on your toes with your feet hip-width apart.

7 Chaturanga Dandasana Exhaling, fully engage your muscles and lower your body evenly until it is 4–6in (10–15cm) above, and parallel to, the floor in the push-up position. Keep your bent elbows in very close to your sides and directly above your wrists. Gaze down.

8 Urdhva Mukha Svanasana Inhaling, push off the balls of your feet, rolling your feet forward over the tips of your toes. Straighten your arms and pull your hips forward. Lift your chest up so that your whole body is raised completely off the floor. Point your toes and gaze straight ahead.

9 Adho Mukha Svanasana exhaling pushes your hips up, rolling back over your toes and lowering the heels onto the floor. If you cannot set your feet flat on the floor, bend the knees slightly and let the heels lift off as much as you need. Spread out your fingers and lift the sitting bones up toward the ceiling. Stretch out your arms, lift the kneecaps, and firm the muscles at the front of your thighs. Gaze at the navel.

10 Transition Prepare to hop forward. Begin exhaling as you bend your knees and look forward between the hands. Move all of your weight into the hands as though you were going to do a handstand. Lift the hips up high, ready to push off on the balls of your feet.

11 Transition Continue exhaling as you hop forward. Push off the feet and straighten the legs, keeping the hips high in the air. Engage both uddiyana and mula bandha to lift the torso. Keep your arms straight and shoulder-width apart. Gaze down between the hands.

12 Transition At the end of the exhale, land in a crouch with your feet together and between your hands. Keep your palms flat on the floor throughout the move. Gaze down.

13 Ardha Uttanasana inhaling lifts your torso halfway up. Look slightly forward and straighten the spine. Touch the floor with your fingertips, just in front of your toes.

14 Uttanasana Exhaling, fold your body in half, drawing the navel to the spine to engage uddiyana bandha. Keep your legs firm and straight by lifting the kneecaps. Extend the crown of the head toward the floor. Bring the palms of your hands down to the floor beside your feet. Gaze at your navel.

15 Raised Tadasana Inhaling, sweep your arms out to the side and up, bringing the palms together above your head. Gaze up toward the thumbs. Lengthen the waist without hunching the shoulders.

16 Tadasana Exhaling, sweep your arms back out to the sides and down straight close to the body, palms inward. Standing tall, extend through the crown of the head. Face forward.

These are very useful and promising method in Dynamic Yoga.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

WARMING UP IN DYNAMIC YOGA

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WARMING UP


It is best to spend a few minutes gently stretching before performing the sun salutations in Dynamic Yoga. Most of us tend to spend hours just sitting, creating tightness in the hips and often putting a strain on the spine. Doing two of the four warm-up exercises presented here before beginning a dynamic yoga program helps release any stiffness in the back and shoulders. This prepares the body for the relative intensity of the Sun Salutation sequences.


Happy Pose

 


1 Sit on the floor with your legs out straight in front of you and your arms straight by your sides. Inhaling, cross the right leg over the left. Move your hands back slightly and bend your arms, pressing down with your fingertips to straighten the spine. Gaze forward.

2 Exhaling fold the body forward, reaching out with your arms. Hold for two to five minutes, breathing slowly. With each inhale lengthen the spine and with each exhale deepen the fold in the hips. Repeat with the left leg crossed over the right.


Wide Butterfly




1 Sit in the same position as for Happy Pose. Inhaling, bring the heels of your feet together, bending your legs slightly. Let your knees fall out to the sides. Move your hands back slightly and press down with your fingertips.
2 Exhaling fold the body forward from the hips, grounding the sitting bones and reaching out with your arms. Let your whole body relax over the legs. Hold for two to five minutes.


 Spinal Roll


1 Stand up straight with your arms by your sides, feet hip-width apart, and toes spread. Exhaling, bend at the knees and fold your body forward slowly, letting the weight of the upper body take the torso forward. Allow the spine to curve and the arms to hang down.

2 Continue exhaling until the hands are touching the floor and the entire torso is flopping forward. Relax the back of the neck and let the weight of the head pull the neck long. Hold the pose for 10 breaths. Then, inhaling, roll the body up to standing.


Arms Wrapped Forward Bend





1 Stand up straight with your arms by your sides, feet hip-width apart, inhaling, swing the left arm under the right, bending the elbows. Bring the palms of each hand together. Lift the elbows up and gaze forward.

2 Exhaling, bend the knees and fold the body forward slowly. Let the spine curve one vertebrae at a time. Keep the chin tucked and the elbows lifted. Close your eyes.

3 Continue exhaling until the body is folded forward completely. Hold for 10 breaths, and then slowly uncurl to standing. Repeat with the right arm crossed under the left.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MODIFICATIONS FOR SOME YOGA POSTURES

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MODIFICATIONS


It is important not to push your body beyond its limits when practicing dynamic yoga. If you find that a particular posture creates strain or tension in a part of your body, withdraw from it. A pose done with force can be very injurious, and usually results in undue pressure being applied to another area of the body to compensate.

In many cases in this Dynamic yoga or further conversation on this blog, a specific, less strenuous, alternative is shown. For example, if you cannot reach the floor with your left arm in Parivrtta parsvakonasana, then bend your arms into prayer position as shown in the alternative. If no alternative is shown, there are two modifications of body position that between them can be applied to most postures. The first is simply to bend your legs where the full pose calls for straight legs. The second is to keep your legs straight but to reach less far forward with your arms. You can gradually move your body toward the full pose as you practice.

In addition to modifying the position of your body to avoid straining, you can also use equipment to help you in positions that cause difficulty. For example, blocks can be very useful in helping you to balance in the standing poses if you cannot reach the floor with your hand. Equally, if your hips are tight and restrict you as you fold forward, a rolled towel or blanket placed under the sitting bones will help, and will also mean that you do not harm the lower back. If you cannot reach your toes with your hands, try using a strap to enable you to deepen the stretch.


SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES




If you have a specific injury or known weakness, then you must be very careful not to place any strain on that area of the body when practicing yoga. For example, if you have a neck injury, avoid yoga postures that require you to roll onto it, such as Sarvangasana, without the guidance of a qualified teacher. It is equally important to be careful if you have a back injury or strain. It is best to practice with a teacher until you understand the appropriate alternatives for your particular injury. Something as common as tight hips can be helped by using a towel or modifying your position. For tight hamstrings, bend the legs when you cannot straighten them, and pay particular attention to the symmetry and alignment of your legs in each posture. If you are pregnant, it is best not to practice dynamic yoga. There are yoga classes tailored especially for pregnant women; try one of these for this period. You can come back to dynamic yoga after the birth and when your doctor gives you clearance.


RESTING


It is very important to rest when necessary and not to push you to a state of exhaustion during yoga. If you need to rest between yoga postures, rest in Balasana .At the end of each program rest in Savasana, using this pose to farther your ability to meditate.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

HOW TO PRACTICE DYNAMIC YOGA

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HOW TO PRACTICE


Do not practice dynamic yoga on a full stomach. It is best to wait two to three hours after eating before beginning a program. Choose a time in the day when you will not be interrupted or distracted: you need to be able to give your full attention to practicing the asanas. It is important to be comfortable, and the clothing you wear when doing dynamic yoga must be flexible and able to breath. The fabrics that work best are cotton blend.
Practice in a quiet, clean, warm environment. A wooden floor is ideal, and the perfect floor is one that allows you to practice without a "sticky mat." However, if the surface of your floor is slippery, you must use a mat.
Avoid vigorous practice while menstruating, as this can disrupt the flow of menses. Instead, I suggest practicing Utthita trikonasana, Baddha konasana, and Balasana, all of which are soothing and can help relieve cramping. It is very important at this time to avoid all inverted poses (upside-down poses). Ideally, you should ask a dynamic yoga teacher to advise on the specific practice you can do while menstruating.



ALIGNMENT AND BANDHAS IN DYNAMIC YOGA

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ALIGNMENT


Correct alignment of the body is crucial when practicing the dynamic yoga postures. The weight of your body must be distributed evenly and grounded in the floor. Checks and balances must be applied, so that the whole body is held in balance for each posture. It is important to sit and stand up straight at the beginning of each posture in Dynamic yoga. By extending the spine, you create more space between the vertebrae, allowing freedom of movement. To support the spine fully, you must engage all the muscles in your body, which you must teach to work in harmony with each other.

BANDHAS


Bandha is a Sanskrit word that means "lock." By engaging a bandha during an asana, you are able to regulate the flow of prana, the life-force energy that moves through the body. I have focused on developing two of the three bandhas in this dynamic yoga series of poses: mula bandha and uddiyana bandha.
Mula means "root" in Sanskrit, and you engage mula bandha by contracting the perineum, which is located in front of the anus and behind the genitals. The contraction is established toward the end of an exhalation and should be maintained throughout the inhale. To start with, you may notice that you are engaging the entire area, including the anus, but with practice you will be able to refine the action and lift only the perineum.
The second bandha is called uddiyana, which means "flying upward."This lock is engaged by drawing in the abdominal wall (just a few inches below the navel and above the pubic bone). It is a very subtle drawing of the back of the navel to the spine, which allows your lower abdomen to remain soft and still. This lift is connected with the drawing up of the perineum and will also be most apparent at the end of an exhalation. You can practice both of these energy locks in the Downward Dog (Adho mukha svanasana) position in the Sun Salutation sequences. Notice that both mula bandha and uddiyana bandha connect with the breath. Have patience: the engagement of the bandhas takes years to master fully and you will learn to engage them only with practice.




Friday, September 18, 2009

BEFORE YOU START DYNAMIC YOGA

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BEFORE YOU START


The fundamentals of your dynamic yoga practice are covered here. Correct breath control is essential to creating a seamless flow of postures. Dynamic yoga also draws on the bandhas (inner energy locks) to help extend the breath. This form of yoga is very safe as long as you listen to your body. This in itself may take some practice. Learn to know when your body is out of balance or when you are pushing it too far – and always modify your postures whenever necessary.

BREATH CONTROL


An intrinsic part of the practice of dynamic yoga is the synchronization of the movement of your body with the rhythm of your breathing to energize your body, focus the mind, and avoid muscle strain. Let the sound of your own breath be the music to your dance. Never move unless you are breathing, and synchronize the beginning and end of each breath with the beginning and end of a specific movement. The rhythm of your breath should remain steady and smooth throughout the steps of each posture, which means that you must concentrate on the flow of your breath and take conscious control of your inhalations and exhalations. This is known as Pranayama, or breath control. The quality of your breath is an indication of the quality of your practice. If you are holding your breath or it is shallow
and strained, you may have gone beyond your limit and should draw back.
In order to stretch your body in the practice of the asanas, you must learn how to stretch, or lengthen, your inhalations and exhalations. Ujjayi pranayama is a unique breathing technique that enables you to increase the airflow. It means "victorious extended breath." It involves slightly constricting the glottis (the opening through the vocal chords) as you would if whispering. The friction of the air passing through the constricted glottis has the effect of creating a sound similar to wind moving through a tunnel. The easiest way to begin to cultivate this sound is to lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes, soften your face, and slightly constrict the glottis, keeping your lips together in a hint of smile.Take deep, long extended breaths without raising and lowering the lower abdomen. Concentrate on moving the breath up, expanding your entire rib cage and the area supporting the kidneys. You should feel your entire back expanding on the floor as you inhale. The sound can be created by imagining you are saying "haaaaaaa" on the exhale and "saaaaaa" on the inhale but keeping the lips together. This sound becomes a tool you can use during your asana practice for concentrating your attention. Think of it as your mantra. When your mind begins to wander, bring your attention back to the sound and rhythm of your breath.



PRACTICING DYNAMIC YOGA

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PRACTICING DYNAMIC YOGA

This form of dynamic yoga focuses on the third and fourth limbs of yoga – the asanas, or postures, and pranayama, or extension of the breath. This book provides a sequence of yoga postures and transition moves that exercises your body and draws your attention to the way the breath can work with the body, helping you to extend it. The transition moves allow you to move your body naturally from one posture to another in a continuous flow, helping you to maintain your concentration and work toward the fifth limb of yoga – pratyahara.

The series of dynamic postures and transition moves presented in this book is just one of many possible sequences that can be developed using the interconnecting movements of the Sun Salutations. The entire series will take you at least 90 minutes to complete and offers a very thorough workout of all muscle groups. At the back of the book I have also suggested two shorter programs – one of 60 minutes and one of 30 minutes – that you might like to try if your time is limited. If on any particular day you are very short of time, simply practice the Sun Salutations – both A and B – several times. Remember, five minutes spent practicing dynamic yoga twice a day is more effective than two hours practiced once a week.

Whichever length of program you choose, with regular practice, you will find that not only will your physical body improve, but also your ability to focus and your level of awareness will be enhanced.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

THE HISTORY OF YOGA

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THE HISTORY OF YOGA


Most of the Hatha yoga forms taught today throughout the Western world is influenced by the great yogi Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who was born in 1888. He is considered the father of modern yoga and is responsible for pioneering the refinement of postures, specifically sequencing them and giving therapeutic value to each one. He is also responsible for combining the postures with breath control to create a form of moving meditation. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who developed the Ashtanga Vinyasa method of Hatha yoga, studied with Krishnamacharya from the age of 12 and continues to teach yoga, inspired

By his great teacher, in Mysore, India. B.K.S. Iyengar also studied with Krishnamacharya, albeit for a brief time.

Lord of learning and remover of obstacles, the Hindu god Ganesh provides inspiration to yoga students, who should cultivate the attitude that obstacle, are there to be overcome.

He has spent his life perfecting the asanas that his first guru taught him and is the founder of the Iyengar style of yoga. He has a yoga center in Pune, India.T. Desikachar, the son of Krishnamacharya, developed the Viniyoga approach to Hatha yoga and currently has a yoga center in Chennai, India. He also teaches throughout the world.


THE EIGHT LIMBS


One of the founding principles of Hatha yoga to which dynamic yoga adheres is that of the eight limbs, which the literal translation of the Sanskrit word ashtanga is. Devised by the famous sage Patanjali in about 200B.C, the eight limbs are described by him in the historical yoga text, the Yoga Sutras. The eight limbs can be likened to the form and nature of a tree. For, as a tree stands strong against every adversity and continues to grow, producing fruits from its labor, so do yoga students, through consistent practice and dedication, begin to reap the benefits of their labor and nourish the fruits of their love. The first five limbs are concerned with the body and the brain. They constitute the outer phase of yoga. The final three limbs are concerned with the reconditioning of the mind and constitute the inner phase of yoga.

The Hindu deity, Shiva, represents supreme consciousness. He is also known as the Lord of the Dance, symbolizing the Eternal movement of the universe.

The first limb of yoga is called Yama. Its purpose is to promote moral and ethical principles within the individual. Yama has five principles or social disciplines: ahimsa (nonviolence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (purity), and aparigraha (non-attachment).

The second limb is called Niyama. Its purpose is to create an inner integrity and it also has five principles: saucha (cleanliness, purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (austerity), svadhaya (self-study), and isvarapranidhana (surrender to God).

The third limb is called Asana. These are the yoga postures, which are practiced to calm the mind, enabling a deep state of meditation to occur. This is based on the principle that if the body is restless, the mind will also become restless, inhibiting the true realization of the self.

The fourth limb is Pranayama, or extension of the breath. Prana is the life-force energy, and ayama is the voluntary effort to control and direct this energy. Pranayama helps contemplation and eliminates distractions of the mind, so it becomes easier to concentrate and meditate.

The fifth limb is Pratyahara, which means mastery of the senses. Through the practice of asana and pranayama your mind's attention is turned within; through pratyahara this internal focus is maintained.

The sixth limb is Dharana, or concentration. It is the ability to focus your full attention on one point to the exclusion of everything else. It is essential to realizing the true self.

The seventh limb is Dhyana, or meditation, which is the effortless flow of awareness toward the object of concentration. The difference between concentration and meditation is that in concentration there is a peripheral distraction or awareness of your immediate surroundings, whereas in meditation the attention is not disturbed at all; you are completely absorbed.

The eighth limb is Samadhi, which means the absorption of object with the mind. In this enlightened state there is no duality of consciousness. It is one step beyond being completely absorbed in the meditative state. When you have achieved Samadhi, the "I" becomes nonexistent. You become one with God or one with all. This is the fruit of the tree or the fruits of your labor.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF DYNAMIC YOGA

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THE DEVELOPMENT OF DYNAMIC YOGA


Dynamic yoga is a creative style of Hatha yoga, blending the principles of Ashtanga and Iyengar.Dynamic yoga is not only meditative but also physically challenging. Central to the technique of dynamic yoga is the sequencing of postures with interlinking transitional movements and a synchronized breathing pattern. These create a flowing connection of yoga postures that gives you a balanced workout and mental clarity.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means the union of body, mind, and spirit. Yoga is an exploration of the potential of the body, working in harmony with the mind in order to recognize the higher self. It can be translated as a spiritual union of your soul with God or the eternal truth. This truth is experiential, and the practice of yoga becomes a process of self-discovery that is available to everyone. Traditionally there are five branches of yoga. They are: Karma yoga – the path of action; Gyana yoga – the path of wisdom; Bhakti yoga – the path of devotion; Hatha yoga – the physical path; and Raja yoga – the path of meditation. The dynamic yoga program in this book is a form of Hatha yoga, which focuses on the physical postures, or asanas.


THE BENEFITS OF HATHA YOGA


The practice of yoga involves patience, perseverance, and a keen observation of the self. The consistent practice of yoga postures cultivates the ability to observe what is in the present moment. By focusing your attention on the subtle and broad movements of both mind and body, you are able to gain pure insight into the nature of things as they truly are. This is known as mindfulness, from which follows happiness, freedom, and peace. The yoga postures demonstrated in this book have been developed from an understanding of the connections between patterns of thought, body posture, and the breath. These connections are evident when you consider the body's habitual response to certain external stimuli. For example, when you are afraid, your heartbeat increases, your breath stops momentarily, and certain muscles tense; when you are nervous, your stomach turns, your breath shortens, and your palms sweat.

Yoga sages have observed these and some more subtle connections between mind and body for thousands of years. Their knowledge is embedded in the dynamic yoga postures. By practicing them, you, too, will reach a deeper understanding of the connections. In time, you will find that you are practicing yoga not only during the movement of postures, but also through the entire day as you go about your regular activities. By bringing the body and mind more in harmony through yoga postures, you will find that your whole approach to life changes. Then, instead of simply reacting to everyday events and situations, you will respond to them mindfully.



This pose is taken from the Sun Salutation a sequence; The Sun Salutations create the flowing rhythm of the practice.

 
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