Yoga generates energy, and through your practice you can learn to store this energy. Through your breathings, as you are practicing the postures, you create energy. When you lie down in relaxation, you are learning to store this energy.
Yoga helps us to break through not only our physical limitations, but our psychological blocks as well. Although yoga leads you down the right path, you are surpassing you limitations.
Remember that when you breathe, you’ll want to utilize all the oxygen available to you. Let the breath enter your nose, fill your larynx and your windpipe, subdivide into your bronchial tubes and your air sacs, and energize your whole lung capacity. This will benefit both your physical and mental well-being.
Anger has a very destructive effect on your body. When we’re angry and experience uncontrolled emotions, we burn energy. Consequently our bile rises and our face becomes red. This tremendous surge of uncontrolled burning energy can cause fatigue and disease, and can even kill us. While we are in such a state, our breathing is out of control. Proper breathing is pure prana energy, which calms and heals us. We have healing powers within ourselves. At time we use them unthinkingly.
Tension Mill. Stand straight with your feet comfortably apart and your arms at your sides. Inhale and move your arms behind you as far as you can. Exhale, bend your elbows, and raise your arms as you bring them forward to almost shoulder height with your palms facing your chest, as though you were hugging a tree. Keeping your arms parallel to the floor, inhale and push your shoulders back. Your hands will separate. At the same time push your chest forward. Try to push back for enough so that your shoulder blades are touching. Exhale to release your shoulders and bring your arms forward again. Repeat this backward and forward motion three times. The idea is to open your chest and really fill your lungs. This posture also releases any tension in your upper back.
Turtle. Assume a sitting or kneeling position. Picture the way a turtle moves its head in and out of its shell. Inhale and move your head forward-chin stretching forward. On your exhalation, pull your head back. Repeat this movement several times out and in. If you have any type of neck pain, please practice this posture carefully-do not overstretch your neck.
Swim Down. In a standing position with your feet comfortably below your hips, start gently swinging your arms backward and forward, relaxing both ways. Gradually, begin to bend your body forward – still swinging your arms backward and forward. Keep swinging your arms and bending your body forward until your hands are almost touching the floor. Gradually, let your arms stop swinging. As you stop, simply hang there and relax. When you are ready, inhale and raise your body to an upright position. This posture is very refreshing and relaxing.
Relaxation/Meditation: The Inner Child
Did you ever wish upon a star? You probably did as a child. But you got older and put aside what you considered childish ways, you probably also put aside most, if not all, the innocence and trust of your youth. This loss is one of our greatest misfortunes and saddest mistakes. In this relaxation session, you’ll try recapture your childish ways to assist you in healing.
As usual, center your body comfortably on the floor – twist and wiggle – as you become increasingly relieved and relaxed, peaceful and poised. Take a deep inhalation and joyfully follow in with a full exhalation, allowing you to sink down further and further into rest. Softly close your eyes to go within.
Take a minute to reflect on what it is about yourself that troubles you the most. You might be dissatisfied with your weight or you might struggle with some character flaw. May be you experience persistent pain in some part of your body. Take a walk through your body and decide what it is you wish to correct or change or help. (pause.)
Once you have chosen the problem that you want to work on, think of taking care of that problem with all the innocence, faith, and trust that you had a child. Recapture that state of mind. When you tell children to wish upon a star, they do it without questions or doubts.
First picture that star – any star. Look around at the imagined sky above you and at all those stars winking back at you. They’re probably saying: “choose me! choose me!” (pause.)
Once you have your star, disregard all the other stars that surround it and only be aware of the one you have chosen for your every own. Look at it lovingly and with an open mind. Once you open yourself to it, it will come closer to you and be brighter. (pause.)
See how bright it is becoming and how much closer it is coming? (pause.)
It is right above you. Tell it your problem. If your problem is of a physical nature, direct your star to that area of your body. (pause.)
Once you have done this, stay with your star and concentrate on that part of your body. Let the glow of the star become brighter and brighter and let it blanket you, like the sun blankets you on a summer day. Feel it penetrate you with its warm, healing glow – drawing up and physical or mental discomfort. Simply picture your troubles flow upward on that stream of light – draw from your body – drifting slowly and leaving you. (pause.)
As those problems leave you, feel yourself growing lighter, as if a great weight has been lifted. You are feeling better about your problem. It is not a burden now. You feel relieved, lighter, more rested, more content, more at peace. Lie there a little longer and enjoy the blanket of light. (pause.)
Now that you feel better, watch the light begin to rise up and away from you. It ascends slowly back to its skyward perch – its home amid the heavens. Follow the light with your eyes to the place where you first saw it, dimming but still visible. It you look closely enough it will wink at you one last time. (pause.)
Remember that life is not just wishing on a star, but also experiencing it and everything! Life is being open, allowing, trusting, and believing!
Experience yourself back to the room around you. Stretch your body into wakefulness and aliveness with a gentle stretch, as you affirm to yourself: “My body is relaxed and my mind is peaceful.”
Feedback sensitivity is the capacity to listen and understand the messages that different part of the body send us. Did you ever notice that if you try to force your opinion on someone during an argument, you only meet with more resistance? The body works in a similar way. Forcefully trying to push your body beyond its limits actually creates more resistance and more tension. Surrendering to the posture allows for greater attainment. Our brain is a paradox that both teaches and limits us. For example, if we strain ourselves in a particular posture our brain will remind us of that pain and we’ll unconsciously begin to avoid that posture, which might render us narrow and confined. Our warning system becomes our resistance. Once we force our body or hurt ourselves while practicing a posture, repeating the same posture will cause tension. Tension is the enemy of movement. Babies’ bodies are so supple and flexible because they have not yet learned tension. Most yoga postures are named after animals because animals have no tension – they are fully alert to the now. We may not fly, but we should certainly have attention and awareness to the now. While our memory reminds us of the past hurting, our survival system adds permanence to it. Our survival system transforms a simple “be careful” to a “don’t.” However, we can change this pattern by learning to pay attention to our feedback sensitivity system. The system tells us when to move more deeply into the posture or when to back off from it. It teaches us to be aware of the now – this moment and this movement.
Tree Balance. Stand comfortably. Inhale and bend your left knee up to the chest height. Take hold of your left foot with both hands. Exhale and stretch your left leg and both arms forward, balancing yourself on your right leg. Hold the posture for as long as you are comfortable. Inhale and bring your leg back to your chest. Exhale and lower it to the floor. Repeat for the other side of your body.
Back and Hips Rotations.
Back: Stand with your feet about six inches apart and place your hands on your lower back. Bend your knees slightly, and then rotate your knees and lower torso. Rotate first one way and then in the opposite direction. Rotate the same number of times each way.
Hips: Stand with your feet about twelve inches apart and place your hands on your hips. Bend your knees slightly, and then rotate your knees and hips. Rotate first one way and then in the opposite direction. Again, rotate the same number of times each way. This movement opens and strengthens your hip joints.
Plank pose. Lie on the floor on your back. Turn on your left side and partially raise your body, enough to position your left hand on the floor in place of your left shoulder. Your right leg is resting on your left leg. Raise your buttocks off the floor so that you are balancing yourself on your left hand and left foot.
Relaxation/Meditation: The Flow of the Universe
One of the best reasons for associating our minds with nature in our minds is not only for the beauty it affords us, but, more importantly, for its complete lack of stress. Nowhere, absolutely nowhere in nature, will you find stress as we humans know it. Nature’s laid-back attitude is fantastic! It is awake and aware to the ways of the universe and, with the exception of man-created disturbances, It follows those ways very acceptingly and calmly. Animals – fowl, and feather – bask in naturalness unless threatened into changing their pace. We feel threatened and have an erratic pace much more often. We have lost the peaceful movement of life – the allowing of the flow of life. In this session, you will try to recapture the feel of this flow.
Adjust yourself comfortably on the floor – settled in and settled down, centered and aligned, released and relaxed – with your eyes softly closed. Your breathing is smooth and complete. Picture a beautiful tree – the kind of tree you would want to be if you were a tree. (pause.)
You can see the majesty of the tree – the quiet peacefulness of it, completely free of stress. The tree is sure of itself with its roots planted firmly and stretching out in the earth – all gentle, tender roots stretching and receiving nourishment from deep, deep down within the earth. The tree’s massive limbs reach outward and upward – gathering more energy – completely open and receptive.
Choose any limb, whichever one you like the best. Concentrate on this limb. Then choose a single leaf, and leaf – any shape, color or size. Let it be jagged of smooth edges, round or long, whatever suits you best. (pause.)
Now, say to yourself: “I am that leaf.” Think about how it feels to simply hang in the tree with nothing to do – no pressures, no wasted energy, no worries – just hang there! It’s nice, isn’t it? When a gentle breeze comes along, you go along with it and let it lift you. You like the way it turns you and brushes by you. You also like the gentle spring rain that flows over you. The rain is soothing as it washes over you. (pause.)
Promise this to yourself as you gently stretch into wakefulness and aliveness, once again. As always tell yourself: “My body is relaxed and my mind is peaceful.” Stretch fully, yawn, and smile into your being.