Advanced Yoga Practices
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"
In the AYP approach, a concise sequence of yoga postures is used before our twice-daily sessions of sitting practices. For more information on getting started with an asana routine, see Lesson 71. We will use this routine as a baseline for incorporating samyama into yoga postures. Samyama can be incorporated into any other routine of yoga postures in a similar fashion.
For those who are well established in their sitting samyama practice after deep meditation (see Lesson 150), it is easy to add samyama to asanas. Our habit of touching a word or phrase (sutra) faintly with attention and letting it go into stillness will gradually show up in many avenues of our life, with great benefit. So it can be in our structured asana routine as well.
If we take the approach of initiating a descriptive name, or sutra, for each asana as we are first entering the posture, and let go of the sutra while we are in the posture, this is all that is necessary.
Having let go of the sutra, our attention will naturally go with the posture and expand beyond it, adding a far greater component of inner silence to the posture than was there before adding samyama. The result of this is more relaxation during the posture, more lasting effects, and a smoother performance of the physical posture itself. Keep in mind that we never force in yoga postures, always going to our comfortable limit, and not beyond into discomfort. This is the primary instruction in all yoga practices - never force.
In the AYP approach, the duration of most of our postures is in the 10-15 second range, and this is a good fit with the release of sutras into our inner silence. In the case of samyama during yoga postures, we are engaging "stillness in action," literally. As we continue to develop this kind of habit in our thinking and doing, it will have profound implications in our daily life. There is great power in it, and our accomplishments in life can be greatly enhanced.
The names of the yoga postures we use in the AYP approach, which can be used as sutras for the corresponding postures, can be found in this illustration of the 14 postures comprising the AYP Asana Starter Kit.
The posture names can be translated to suit any language. The Sanskrit names can also be used, if the meanings are clear to us in terms of the physical attributes of the postures. For detailed instructions on yoga postures, see the AYP book, "Asanas, Mudras and Bandhas - Awakening Ecstatic Kundalini," or the "AYP Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living" book. Samyama with asana illustrations can be found in the AYP Samyama book.
These sutras can be adjusted as needed if and when our asana routine is modified, as would be the case when using the AYP abbreviated asana routine (covered in the above referenced books), or as we may add more advanced postures over time. All we need is a word or short phrase that cues our inner silence to the performance of the posture. Remember, a sutra is a code that we easily release into stillness. Our abiding inner silence will do the rest, assuming we have been regular in our daily deep meditation practice.
What we may find with the use of samyama in yoga postures is that our comfortable limit moves, giving us a bit more reach than we may have expected. This is good, but do not take it as a signal to push beyond whatever that expanding comfortable limit may be. Even with the advantage of samyama, we are obliged to prudently observe the principles of self-pacing in every aspect of our yoga practices.
The addition of samyama to our asana routine can greatly enhance the effects of our postures physically, emotionally and mentally. When using asanas as a warm-up for our sitting practices, adding samyama enhances the relaxation of our nervous system, setting us up for deeper practice of spinal breathing pranayama, deep meditation, sitting samyama, and our other practices. The result of improved practice will translate into more peace, creativity and happiness in daily living.
The guru is in you.
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