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A Complete Yoga Manual

Ivy Xie-McIsaac
(Rupa)
Wishingtree Yoga
www.wishingtreeyoga.ca
wishingtreeyoga@hotmail.com

Proofreading: Stewart McIsaac, Jacquie Szwarc

Models: Ivy Xie, Stewart McIsaac, Chi McIsaac, Yan Xie, Melie Xie-Bouchard

Copyright © Wishingtree Yoga 2017


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, or by electronic, mechanical, or
other means, without prior written permission from the publisher, Wishingtree Yoga.

ISBN 978-0-9958962-0-8

Published by Wishingtree Yoga


Printed in China

Acknowledgements

First and foremost, I would like to thank my husband Stewart who is my chanting teacher and spiritual
life supporter. He has proofread this Manual so many times as I kept changing the content. He is the one
who supported me through the many obstacles in the past four years. Without his support this book
could not have appeared and I wouldn’t have the confidence to finish the writing.

Namaste to all my teachers and students. Because of their encouragement and involvement I continue
to practice Yoga and am able to keep up the practice by teaching. They let me know that I am not alone
along this journey of searching. I would especially like to thank Zofia Kumas-Tan, who attended the first
Wishingtree Yoga teacher training.

My gratitude to Chi and Stewart, my sister Yan and her daughter Melie for being models, and to Jacquie
Szwarc for proofreading the postures.

To Haoqin Xu, Wenhe Cao and Weixiong Zeng for their generous support. They let me know friendships
last even as time passes.

Rupa

September, 2017

Kanata, Canada
Contents

Foreword by Stewart McIsaac 。。。V


Prologue 。。。VI

Part 1 Yoga and Its Roots 。。。1


1. The Roots of Yoga 。。。1
2. Haṭha Yoga 。。。2

Part 2 The Subtle Body 。。。4


1. Energy and Its Channels 。。。4
1.1 Prāṇa 。。。4
1.2 Nāḍīs 。。。5
1.3 Mudrās 。。。7
1.4 Bandhas 。。。9
2. Chakras 。。。10
2.1 The First Chakra (Root) – The Gate to the Light 。。。11
2.2 The Second Chakra (Sacral) – The Hindrance of Self-restraint 。。。13
2.3 The Third Chakra (Naval) – The Temptation of Power 。。。14
2.4 The Fourth Chakra (Heart) – The Reflection of True Love 。。。14
2.5 The Fifth Chakra (Throat) – The Beauty of Illusion 。。。15
2.6 The Sixth Chakra (Brow) – The Storehouse of Power 。。。17
2.7 The Seventh Chakra (Crown) – The Tool for Emancipation 。。。18
2.8 The Eighth Chakra (Wisdom Heart) – The Light of the True Self 。。。19
3. The Modes of Nature (Guṇas) 。。。21

Part 3 Sāṃkhya Yoga and Meditation 。。。23


1. Sāṃkhya Yoga 。。。23
2. Consciousness and Mind Manifestation 。。。24
2.1 Animal Instinct State and Awakening 。。。25
2.2 Human Being State and Sense Control (Pratyāhāra) 。。。26
2.3 Reflection State and Concentration (Dhāraṇā) 。。。27
2.4 Dream State and Meditative-absorption (Dhyāna) 。。。28
2.5 Transcendental Dreamless Deep Sleep State and Yoga Nidrā 。。。30
2.6 Sleepwalking State and Trance (Samādhi) 。。。32
2.7 Transcendental Waking State and Conjunction (Saṃyama) 。。。33
2.8 Vegetative State and Enlightenment 。。。34
3. Meditation and the Modes of Nature (Guṇas) 。。。36

I
Part 4 Karma Yoga and Yoga Life Attitude 。。。38
1. Karma Yoga 。。。38
2. Yama and Niyama 。。。39
3. Duty and Freedom 。。。40

Part 5 Bhakti Yoga and Nāda 。。。41


1. Bhakti Yoga 。。。41
2. Āuṁ 。。。42
3. Toning and Bīja Mantras 。。。43
4. Chant Together (Kīrtana) 。。。44

Part 6 Jñāna Yoga and Acquiring Knowledge 。。。47


1. Jñāna Yoga。。。47
2. Learner and Disciple 。。。47
3. Spiritual Master and Disciple 。。。49

Part 7 Hatha Yoga and Āsanas 。。。52


1. Modern Hatha Yoga 。。。52
2. Standing and Grounding Āsanas 。。。53
1) Mountain (Tāḍāsana and Samasthiti) 。。。53
2) Swaying Palm Tree (Tiryaka Tāḍāsana) and Standing Half Moon (Ardha Chandrāsana) 。。。54
3) Table (Catuṣpādapīṭham) to Cat and Cow (Mārjārāsana and Surabhitanayāsana) 。。。54
4) Child (Balāsana) and Ruddy Goose (Cakravākāsana) 。。。55
5) Warrior I (Vīrabhadrāsana I) 。。。55
6) Salutation (Namaskārāsana) to Garland (Mālāsana) 。。。56
7) Warrior II (Vīrabhadrāsana II) 。。。56
8) Side Angle (Utthita Pārśvakoṇāsana) 。。。57
9) Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasārita Pādottānāsana) 。。。57
10) Extended Triangle (Utthita Trikoṇāsana) 。。。58
11) Pyramid (Pārśvōttānāsana) 。。。58
12) Standing Forward Bend (Uttānāsana) 。。。59
13) Corpse (Śavāsana) and Fetus (Garbhāsana) 。。。59
14) Chair (Utkaṭāsana) 。。。60
15) Goddess (Utkaṭā Koṇāsana) 。。。60
3. Backbend and Heart Opening Āsanas 。。。61
16) Prayer at the Back (Paścima Namaskārāsana) 。。。61
17) Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Koṇāsana) 。。。61
18) Cobra (Bhujaṅgāsana) 。。。62
19) Fish (Matsyāsana) 。。。62
20) Melting Heart (Anāhatāsana) 。。。63

II
21) Reverse Table (Ardha Pūrvottānāsana) to Reverse Plank (Pūrvottānāsana) 。。。63
22) Camel (Uṣṭrāsana) 。。。64
23) Reverse Warrior (Viparita Vīrabhadrāsana) 。。。64
24) Tank Mudra (Taḍāka Mudrā) and Crocodile (Makarāsana) 。。。65
4. Twist Āsanas 。。。66
25) Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrāsana) 。。。66
26) Revolved Chair (Parivṛtta Utkaṭāsana) 。。。66
27) Half Lord of Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrāsana) 。。。67
28) Marīchi (Marīchyāsana) 。。。68
29) Thread the Needle (Pārśva Balāsana) 。。。68
30) Noose (Pāśāsana) 。。。69
31) Revolved Half Moon (Parivṛtta Ardha Chandrāsana) 。。。69
5. Balance and Core Āsanas 。。。70
32) Tree (Vṛksāsana) 。。。70
33) Dolphin (Śiśumārāsana) 。。。70
34) Tiger (Vyāghrāsana) 。。。71
35) Door Bar (Parighāsana) 。。。71
36) Complete Boat (Paripūrṇa Nāvāsana) 。。。71
37) Crescent Moon (Anjaneyāsana) 。。。72
38) Monkey God (Hanumānāsana) 。。。72
39) Four-limbed Staff (Chaturaṅga Daṇḍāsana) 。。。73
40) Eagle (Garuḍāsana) 。。。73
41) Dancer (Naṭarājāsana) 。。。74
42) Krishna (Naṭavarāsana) 。。。74
43) Crane (Bakāsana) 。。。75
44) Half Moon (Ardha Chandāsana) 。。。75
45) Warrior III (Vīrabhadrāsana III) 。。。76
6. Inversion Āsanas 。。。77
46) Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana) 。。。77
47) Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Śvānāsana) and Phalakāsana (Plank) 。。。77
48) Happy Baby (Ānanda Balāsana) 。。。78
49) Legs-Up (Viparīta Karani) 。。。78
50) Eye of Needle (Sūcirandhrāsana) 。。。78
51) Sleeping Viṣṇu (Anantāsana) 。。。79
52) Shoulder Stand (Sarvāṅgāsana) 。。。79
53) Plough (Halāsana) 。。。80
54) Bowing (Śaśāṅkāsana) 。。。80
55) Supported Headstand (Sālamba Śīrṣāsana) 。。。81
56) Handstand (Adho Mukha Vṛkṣāsana) 。。。81
7. Forward Bends and Seated Āsanas 。。。82
57) Staff (Daṇḍāsana) 。。。82
58) Seated Head-to-knee Forward Bend (Jānu Śīrṣāsana Pose) 。。。82
59) Seated Back Stretch (Paścimottānāsana) 。。。83
60) Cow Face (Gomukhāsana) 。。。83
61) Wide-angle Seated Forward Bend (Upaviṣṭha Koṇāsana) 。。。84
62) Hero (Vīrāsana) 。。。84

III
63) Bound Angle (Baddha Koṇāsana) 。。。85
64) Deer (Mṛgāsana) 。。。85
65) Turtle (Kūrmāsana) 。。。85
66) Sleeping Swan (Haṃsāsana) 。。。86
67) Downward Facing Hero (Adhomukha Vīrāsana) 。。。86
68) The Great Gesture (Mahā Mudrā) 。。。87
69) Rock (Vajrāsana) 。。。87
70) Easy (Sukhāsana) 。。。87
71) Half Lotus (Brahmāsana) 。。。88
72) Accomplished (Siddhāsana) 。。。88
73) Auspicious (Svastikāsana) 。。。88
74) Full Lotus (Padmāsana) 。。。88
75) Lion (Siṁhāsana) 。。。89
76) Bound Lotus (Baddha Padmāsana) 。。。89
77) Yoga Sealing (Yoga Mudrā) 。。。89
8. Set Series 。。。90
78) Sūrya Namaskār (Sun Salutation) 。。。90
79) Chandra Namaskār (Moon Salutation) 。。。91
80) Sutala Sūrya Namaskār (Kneeling Sun Salutation) 。。。92
81) Swan Dive and Seated Sun Salutation (Paramahaṃsāsana) 。。。92
9. Tantra Yoga and Partner Yoga 。。。93
1) Wishing Tree 。。。94
2) Hide and Seek 。。。94
3) Sailing Boat 。。。94
4) See-Saw 。。。94
5) Snake Charmer 。。。94
6) Golden Door 。。。94
7) Beaver Pond 。。。95
8) Peaceful Warrior 。。。95
9) Pyramid 。。。95
10) Crescent Moon 。。。95
11) Duet Dance 。。。95
12) Simply Wonderful 。。。96
13) Walk in the Sky 。。。96
14) Cross Heart 。。。96
15) Supported Staff 。。。96
16) Sunbird 。。。96

Part 8 Yoga: The Path to Know the Self。。。97


1. Spiritual Practice, Religion and Science。。。97
2. Place and Time。。。98

Epilogue 。。。100
Notes 。。。101
Index 。。。103

IV
Foreword

Imagine a group of people sitting around a wishing tree chanting. Kirtan is a type of yoga singing or chanting
that expresses pure Love to and from the heart. We are in a special place, a secret place, a sacred place
when we experience the Love. Kirtan guides us to this place in our hearts, together as we chant. The Spiritual
Heart is the place where the soul resides, the cave of the heart (guha). There are three regions of the
Spiritual Heart: The sun region, within which there is a white moon; inside the moon is a fire region and
inside this is a wish-granting tree known in the Sanskrit, the language of Yoga, as kalpatura. This enchanting
tree represents our ability to manifest our deepest soul’s desires. The kalpatura is often called the celestial
wishing tree. It is said when we wish with all sincerity upon this tree, the kalpatura grants even more than
we ask for, providing us moksha, or freedom. Feel gratitude in our open heart for the gift of this tree, which
is always with us awaiting our wishes, the deepest yearnings of our soul.

I began practicing Hatha Yoga in Guangzhou, China while teaching English there, in 2001. The assistant
teacher was Ivy Xie (Rupa) who helped me with asanas and gave a deeper understanding of yoga and
meditation. In 2004, Ivy and I traveled to Tibet together. The people of Tibet breathe spirituality! We began
and continue to breathe spirituality together.

This book began as a Teacher Training Manual for the Traditional Hatha Yoga Teacher Training at
Wishingtree Yoga. From Rupa’s initial writing of the manual, and my proofreading, the manual, four years
later has blossomed into a book. With Rupa’s inspired yet practical way she guides the reader through an
indepth theoretical discussion of Yoga, its roots and various kinds, and settles into an extensive presentation
of the practice of Hatha Yoga.

Rupa’s Chinese background and training has given her a natural understanding of this ancient eastern
wisdom. Living, studying and teaching in Canada has provided her the opportunity to develop the practice
in a modern western way. She hopes for this book to be a bridge between east and west, modern and
ancient, theory and practice.

This Complete Yoga Manual that Rupa has written with all her heart, soul, love, devotion, hard work, and
knowledge, has the power to awaken a higher perception of Yoga, which liberates the soul and connects us
with the Divine. Enjoy the journey!

Stewart McIsaac, BA Linguistics


Chanter - Yoga Instructor
Arranger and Performer of Wishingtree Chants CD
Co-founder of Wishingtree Yoga
Kanata, Canada 2017

V
Prologue

People might feel the soul is nonsense. We cannot see the soul. How can we believe that the soul exists?
We believe in science. Can the soul be seen by scientific method? Let's consider what a scientific method is.
A scientific method is: First, you believe in a theory and you test it as a scientist, then you tell the world
what you have found. For example, the Wright brothers first, believe a human being is able to fly in the sky,
then as pioneers they try many times, fail many times and at last successfully invent the first airplane. Other
scientists improve on their invention and the airplane goes faster and safer.
Self-realization is similar. First, we need to believe that there is a soul and the soul is eternal, then we can
test this theory. The only difference is, the instrument as a test is our own body and if in this lifetime we
cannot totally understand (test fails), the next test will be in the next lifetime until at some point we
successfully "see" in our body that the soul does exist. Then, the following lifetime to come will be used to
work on improving the "airplane". We will "see" the soul more clearly and "see" the soul activities. Then we
will like to share with others just because the experience is so great!
Of course, not everyone is a scientist and inventing an airplane is dangerous. We need to have a strong
belief to be a pioneer. When Edison was looking for ways to make the light bulb, it took him thousands of
times of testing. His mind's strength and flexibility was extraordinary (able to find thousands of ways to
test). When we are going to be a scientist to study the soul, we need to prepare for thousands of failures.
This needs strong faith. Only the ones that keep trying will succeed.
Human nature never changes. We have always been searching for well-being, happiness and freedom from
the beginning of our existence. We don’t have to be a scientist to do all the tests, but we can use their
knowledge to make our life better. Similarly, we don’t have to go through all the experiments to prove the
existence of the soul; we can just accept the ancient wisdom and listen to the advice for our own benefit.
Modern science and ancient wisdom use different language to express reality. Ancient wisdom tells us the
soul is never born or dies. Modern science tell us that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Ancient
wisdom tells us the same spirit will incarnate in another living being. Modern science tell us our ancestor’s
genes are present in us. Ancient wisdom tells us at the soul level we have the same composition. Modern
science tell us we are all made up of invisible atoms, that we are the same on a microcosmic level. Ancient
wisdom tells us the invisible soul can be seen through a living being. Modern science tells us E=mc2, that
energy can be transformed into matter. We need to understand the language of both modern science and
ancient wisdom, and find a bridge between the two, instead of label the ancient expression as superstition.
Each age has its teachers to show us the way. What we need to do is to choose one path and walk along it.
Achieve our highest potential and own best, and allow everything else to be revealed to us. This book is the
result of my more than 20 years of Yoga practice. It introduces different ways of Yoga practice and through
practice, you can find your own way -- the way towards a happy, wholesome and holistic life.

VI
Yoga and Its Roots 1

Part 1

Yoga and Its Roots

1. The Roots of Yoga


Modern Yoga is often regarded as posture exercise. Traditionally, Yoga is a process of cultivating our
body, mind and consciousness to understand and experience our inner spiritual nature, and let our Self
resonate with the rhythm of nature for well-being and happiness.
Yoga is a spiritual practice and a science of Self-realization. Spiritual practice is a practice to awaken
consciousness, emerge from the repetitions of death and birth, and understand our Self, and the
meaning of life. Yoga originated in the Himālaya area. The word Yoga is derived from the root “yuj”1,
meaning “to yoke, to join, unite, connect, to come into union or conjunction with”. So when we practice
Yoga, it must include two parts: the object and the Self as well as the relationship between the object
and the Self. Yoga can be practiced on three levels: body, mind and spirit. The depth of understanding
of the Self depends on the progress of these levels:
 “to yoke”- to control the body. Cultivate the relationship between body and mind.
 “to connect”- joining of body, mind and consciousness. Cultivate the relationship between body
and soul.
 “union”- unite individual soul and Super soul. Cultivate the relationship between the Self and
the Divine.
Yoga cultivates all the relationships mentioned above. When the individual being’s consciousness
awakens and the Self concentrates on Divine Presence, the Self and the Divine are linked. Under the
guidance of the Super soul, the individual Self grows. When the Self matures, the individual Self is able
to conjunct with Supreme consciousness, resonate with the Divine Presence and flow with the rhythm
of nature. We then actually enjoy life.
The benefits we can receive depend on which level we are at. These could be physical, mental and
spiritual.
 When we focus on “to yoke” - to control the senses, then we receive the physical benefits, such
as physical strength, flexibility and balance.
 When we concentrate on “to connect”, that is, using our mind and consciousness to
understanding the Self, then we begin the journey in search of our Self -- an adventure to the
unknown. It will help us to reduce stress, improve sleep, better relationships, increase energy,
have clearer thinking, enhance creativity and improve memory.
 When we allow Divine Presence to guide our activities -“union”, this is totally on the spiritual
level. We will have a greater sense of meaning of life and a direct deeper experience of soul
which is eternal, full of wisdom and bliss.
2 A Complete Yoga Manual

We need to have personal endeavour, determination and discipline to attain these benefits.
Yoga is practiced so skills and techniques can be mastered for well-being and happiness. The roots of
Yoga are the Vedas which means “true or sacred knowledge”. Ancient tales or legends, old traditional
history, play important roles in disseminating and understanding sacred knowledge. The Hindu epics
Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata are part of this literature. Philosophical writings are recordings of true
knowledge. Among Yoga’s many classical source texts, the most known and authoritative are the
Bhagavad-gītā and the Yoga Sūtra. Both explain the paths to understanding the nature of the Self, the
cause of nature, and the highest purpose of life.
The Bhagavad-gītā was compiled by Śrīla Vyāsadeva. The Bhagavad-gītā explains the philosophy of
Sāṃkhya Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jñāna Yoga. It explains the obstacles to purifying the mind,
the mind and consciousness manifestation at different states, and teaches how to live spiritually while
continuing to perform day-to-day duties.
 Sāṃkhya Yoga: an analytical method of distinguishing the body from the Self.
 Karma Yoga: Self-realization through conscious action.
 Bhakti Yoga: leads us to foster love of Divine Presence, and at last to obtain Absolute Truth.
 Jñāna Yoga: teaches us how to study and acquire spiritual knowledge, and to understand
the Self.
The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali, dates back to the period between 200 and 400 AD. It consists of four
chapters or pādas:
1) On trance(Samādhi pāda)
2) On practice(Sādhana pāda)
3) On capacities(Vibhūti pāda)
4) On freedom(Kaivalya pāda)
The “eight limbs of yoga” (Aṣṭāṅga Yoga) that are explained in Yoga Sūtra chapter II are the foundation
for the Yoga we are practicing today. The Yoga Sūtra (2.29) tells us the eight limbs of Yoga are: 2
 yama, our attitudes toward our environment.
 niyama, our attitudes toward ourselves.
 āsana, the practice of body exercises.
 prāṇāyāma, the practice of breathing exercises.
 pratyāhāra, the restraint of our senses.
 dhārāna, the ability to direct our minds.
 dhyāna, the ability to develop interactions with what we seek to understand.
 samādhi, complete integration with the object to be understood.

2. Haṭha Yoga
The physical body is a vehicle for the soul. Yoga practice starts with the body and uses postures (āsanas)
to improve awareness. This is known as Haṭha Yoga. “Ha” refers to the moon,3 the essence of the Self,
the subordinate side; the intangible, receptive and feminine side of the Self, the negative side of energy.
“ṭha” refers to the sun, the form of the Self, the dominate side; the physical, expanding and masculine
side of the Self, the positive side of energy. When the feminine and masculine sides of the Self are out
of balance, disease of the body and psyche happen. Haṭha means violence, force. Traditionally, Haṭha
Yoga is a form of Yoga means to forcing the mind to withdraw from external objects. Now we uses
āsanas and prāṇāyāma and other techniques to purify the body and mind and awaken our consciousness,
so we can know how to balance the physical body and subtle body, bring opposing qualities into
harmony, and find support from contrary elements and transform them into new elements.
Yoga and Its Roots 3

One of the important classic texts on Haṭha yoga is Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā by Yogī Svātmārāma from the
fifteenth century. It includes four chapters:
1) On Āsanas
2) On Prāṇāyāma
3) On Mudrās
4) On Samādhi
According to Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, Haṭha Yoga uses postures (āsanas) to purify the body which leads
to a clear path for energy. This energy can be used to master the mind. When original consciousness is
awakened and body strength is able to support the Self, one is able to connect with the Divine which is
always blissful and fresh. The practice is rooted in our body. Different styles of yoga practiced can be
regarded as Hatha Yoga, such as Sivananda Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, and Viniyoga.
Āsana and prāṇāyāma are normally the beginning forms of Haṭha Yoga practice. Āsana originally means
sitting down, to sit down. Now it is known as postures which focus more on the visible physical body.
The aim of āsana practice is to improve body flexibility, strength, balance and vitality, and through
movement awareness to recognize the pulse of the mind and at last recognize our true nature.
Āsana practice:
 Utkaṭāsana (Chair Pose)
Utkaṭā means powerful, fierce. This pose is like sitting on an imaginary chair.
 Daṇḍāsana (Staff Pose)
Daṇḍa means a rod or staff.
 Sukhāsana (Easy Pose, Pleasant Pose)
Sukha means happiness, pleasure, comfortable, joyful.
Prāṇa means life force, vital energy, āyāma means extend, lengthen. Prāṇāyāma originally means
extend the life force; now known as regulation of breath which is focused more on the invisible subtle
body.
One might survive without food for 7 days, maybe 3 days without water and still be able to live, but we
cannot survive without breath for even 5 minutes. Therefore, when we practice Yoga, a smooth breath
is more important than the pose itself. Actually, we practice an āsana to improve the ability to stay in
the āsana with a smooth and deep breath. The external pose is not what we are concerned with; instead,
we focus on the condition of breathing. When we are able to handle any āsana such as standing, seated,
forward bend, backbend, twist, balance, and inversion, with smooth breathing, then the āsanas will
become naturally perfect in due time. By focusing on the invisible breathing when we practice visible
āsanas, we start to unite the gross physical body and subtle body. To bring the visible physical body and
invisible subtle body into balance requires a lot of determined effort and constant practice.
4 A Complete Yoga Manual

Part 2

The Subtle Body

The physical body that can be seen is only one layer of the Self. The Individual Self also includes layers
that cannot be seen by the naked eye, such as mind, intelligence, consciousness, and soul; they are
called the subtle body. When we begin the self-realization inquiry “who am I”, we cannot look at the
physical body only; we also look at the subtle body, which is the manifestation of vital energy.

1. Energy and Its Channels


1.1 Prāṇa
Energy exists everywhere eternally permeating the whole universe. Energy cannot be created or
destroyed, but it can change from one form to another. With reference from our eyes, it manifests in
two ways: visible inert mass and invisible latent energy.
 Visible inert mass: Dull matter that has a form that can be seen, such as our physical body,
stones, hills, mountains, planets, etc.
 Invisible latent energy: Hidden but vibrating energies called Prāṇa. Prāṇa is the life force,
vital energy, but is formless. This hidden potential energy is the core of all existence, such as gravity,
heat, magnetism, sound vibration in the cosmos, and breathing, thinking, feeling, will and soul in human
beings.
Life force (prāṇa) is always together with the possessor, the original source. For example, when we
mention gravity, we understand, on Earth, it’s the gravity of Earth. When we mention feeling, it’s an
individual being’s feeling. When we mention heat, we know that heat comes from fire, or from the Sun.
Heat cannot exist without the source of heat. Similarly, light comes from the source of light. In nature,
we know light comes from the Sun. Even if sometimes the Sun is blocked by the clouds and cannot be
seen, through daylight we know the Sun is there.
When we breathe, we breathe in air, but the air itself is not prāṇa. For example, when someone is in a
coma, he or she might be able to keep the physical body functioning with the help of a breathing
machine, but they are only existing, not really actively alive, because there is no prāṇa. The person is in
a vegetative state. Therefore, vitality is not based on the physical body; the physical body is a vehicle
for the soul. Prāṇa gives beings life and consciousness. A person is not really a living being without spirit
-- soul. Thus, prāṇāyāma is not simply breathing exercise. Prāṇāyāma consciously guides prāṇa to the
way we would like it to go. It’s a form of meditation to understand the Self. Through prāṇāyāma the
individual being connects with universal energy.
The Subtle Body 5

Meditation Practice: So’ham – Who am I


Saḥ meaning “He, that”, aham meaning “I am”. So’ham means “I am that”

 Sit comfortably.
 Focus on breathing. Listen to the sound of your own breathing.
 When you breathe in, listen to the sound “so”.
 When you breathe out, listen to the sound “ham”.
 Listen to the sound So’ham continually. Consider: “I am that”, what that is.
 Stay as long as you like.
Living beings are born taking the first breath, and die after the last breath. What will happen after
the last exhale? Where will we be after we die? The “so’ham” meditation lets us start to understand
that we are not only this gross material body, but we have vital energy inside.
Prāṇa doesn’t have a form to be seen when the individual physical body dies. When a baby is born,
prāṇa assumes a living form we can see. No matter with or without form, the essence is the same:
prāṇa, vital energy, the eternal existing energy. Life and death are different forms of existence. Yoga
is focused on the subtle body, and all the practice is to awaken consciousness so we can recognize
our eternity and connect with the original source of prāṇa.

1.2 Nāḍīs

Nāḍī means pipe or tube. In our subtle body is a channel through which energy flows. Just as the river
flows along a river bed, prāṇa flows through Nāḍīs. Nāḍīs connect individual energy with universal
energy and direct the flow or transmission of prāṇa in our subtle body.
Three main Nāḍīs: Iḍā, Piṅgalā, Suṣumnā
Iḍā Nāḍī, also called Soma or Chandra (moon) Nāḍī,4 is the left channel, associated with lunar energy.
Iḍā has a moon-like nature and a passive, female energy with a cooling effect. Iḍā Nāḍī is associated
with the Ganges River, the river of purification which purifies emotions and desires. Physically, Iḍā Nāḍī
can be linked to the artistic and creative side of the brain which is the right side of the brain. It controls
the left side of the body.
Piṅgalā Nāḍī, also called Sūrya (sun) Nāḍī, is the right channel, and is associated with solar energy.
Piṅgalā Nāḍī has a sun-like nature and an active, male energy with a heating effect. Piṅgalā Nāḍī is
associated with the River Yamuna, the river of compassion that spares one from a painful death.
Physically, Piṅgalā Nāḍī can be linked to the academic and logical side of the brain, which is the left side
of the brain. It controls the right side of the body.
Iḍā Nāḍī corresponds to the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which allows the body to function under
stress (fight or flight). Piṅgalā Nāḍī corresponds to the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is
responsible for rest and digestive functions. SNS and PNS together form the autonomic nervous system
which governs the vegetative and survival responses.
Āsana practice:
 Parighāsana (Door Bar, Gateway)
Parigha means a bludgeon or club. It implies the cross beam used for locking a gate. Also,
represents the way to go out (gateway).
 Paripūrṇa Nāvāsana (Complete Boat Pose)
Paripūrṇa means entire or complete. Nāvā is a ship, boat or vessel.
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 Ardha Chandāsana (Balanced Half Moon Pose)


Ardha means half. Chandra is the moon.

Prāṇāyāma Practice: Nadi Cleansing Breath (Nāḍī Śodhana Prāṇāyāma)


Nāḍī means subtle energy channel; Śodhana means cleansing, purification
Hand Position:
 Sit comfortably with your spine erect and shoulders relaxed. Face soft.
 Left hand: palm face up, rest on the left knee, index finger and thumb together.
 Right hand: place the little finger in front of the ring finger, stick them together; fold the index
finger and middle finger (Mṛgi Mudrā).

Practice preparation with right hand:


 Place the thumb on the right side of the nose, where the cartilage begins, which is the narrowest
part of the nasal passage. Breathe in and out through the left nostril a few times. Release.
 Place the ring finger (and little finger) on the left side, where the cartilage begins, breathe in and
out through the right nostril a few times. Release.
Now that we know how to use the right hand fingers, we can start the Nadi Cleansing Breath:

 Put your thumb on the right cartilage and breathe in gently through the left nostril.
 Breathe out from the right nostril by pressing the left cartilage gently with the ring finger.
 Breathe in from the right nostril and exhale from the left. This is one round of Nāḍī Śodhana
Prāṇāyāma. Continue inhaling and exhaling by alternating nostrils.
 Complete a number of such rounds. After every exhalation, breathe in from the same nostril
from which you exhaled. Keep your eyes closed throughout and continue taking long, smooth
breaths without forcing.
 Finish the practice by breathing out.
Benefits of Nadi Cleansing Breath:
 Purifies the Nāḍīs, especially Iḍā and Piṅgalā Nāḍīs, thereby ensuring a smooth flow of energy in
the body. Therefore health is improved.
 The balanced prāṇā, helps harmonize the left and right hemispheres of the brain -- the logical
and emotional sides of our personality.
 The exchanging prāṇā, helps connect left and right sides of the body. Left and right sides of the
body integrate.
 Cleansing the Nāḍīs actually releases accumulated tension and fatigue. Helps relax the mind;
keeps the mind calm, happy and peaceful.

Suṣumṇā Nāḍī is known as Brahma Nāḍī, it is the central channel in the subtle body, where lunar and
solar prāṇas meet, and the place where the individual soul connects with the super soul. Once this link
happens, Prāṇa begins to flow through the Suṣumṇā, and spiritual awakening and evolution begins.
The Suṣumṇā Nāḍī connects the Root chakra to the Crown chakra and is associated with the River
Sarasvatī, the river of wisdom. This is the most important Nāḍī as it provides a channel to balance lunar
and solar prāṇa. When two opposite forms of prāṇa are present and join together, one chakra to
another, different characteristics can be observed. Physically, Suṣumṇā Nāḍī can be linked to the spine,
from the tailbone to the crown, and the central nervous system.
The Subtle Body 7

Āsana practice:
 Utthita Trikoṇāsana (Extended Triangle Pose)
Utthita means extended, stretched. Tri means three, Koṇa means angle.
 Paścimottānāsana (Western Intense Stretch Pose, Seated Back Stretching Pose)
Paścima literally means the west. Here it implies the back of the whole body. Uttāna means
pointing upwards, turning the body. In this pose the back is pointing upwards.
 Prasārita Pādottānāsana (Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose)
Prasārita means cast, expanded, spread. Pāda means a foot. Uttāna means pointing upwards,
turning the body.

Prāṇāyāma Practice: Dīrgha Prāṇāyāma (Three Part Breath, Complete Breath)


Dīrgha, means “prolonged”, “deep”, “long”. Dīrgha prāṇāyāma is normally translated as Three Part
Breath. We use our whole upper torso as a bigger concept of the lungs. The three parts are: belly,
ribcage and upper chest. We can identify these three parts with sound: Put one hand on the belly,
make an “A-A-A” sound when you breathe out, notice the gentle movement of the belly; put both
hands on the ribcage, make a “U-U-U” sound, be aware of the sensation on the ribcage when you
breathe in and out; put both hands on the upper chest, close the mouth and make a “M-M-M” sound;
focus on the area where you feel the vibration of the sound.

When practicing Dīrgha prāṇāyāma, we first breathe into our belly, then the ribcage, then the upper
chest. Then we exhale quietly and slowly, reversing the flow, releasing the air from the upper chest,
ribcage and belly. Dīrgha prāṇāyāma is also called “Complete Breath” as this prāṇāyāma completely
fills the lungs with air.
Benefits of Three Part Breath:
 To breathe fully and completely, energy will distribute throughout the body, so the body can
achieve balance and harmony. Decreases stress and anxiety levels.
 Brings awareness to the energy and the present moment, and therefore calms the mind.

1.3 Mudrās (Seal)


Mudrā means a seal, a seal-ring, a lock. Mudrās are gestures to express the individual’s understanding
of Self; the relationship of Self with nature and the Divine. These gestures reveal how the individual
connects with universal energy. Mudrās, including hand mudrās and body mudrās, seal different forms
of prāṇa in our body. Body mudrās can be regarded as part of āsana practice, such as Taḍāka Mudrā,
Mahā Mudrā and Yoga Mudrā.
Hand Mudrās:
Jñāna mudrā: Jñāna means knowledge. For this mudrā, touch the tip of the index
finger to the tip of the thumb. The thumb represents the Super soul and the index
finger represents the individual being. When the individual being is connected with the
Super soul, the path of spiritual understanding is opened.
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Śhani mudrā: Śhani is the name for the planet Saturn, the one who moves slowly, because Saturn
takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun. For this mudrā, connect the tip of the middle
finger with the tip of the thumb to remind ourselves to be patient.
Sūrya mudrā: Sūrya is the name of the Sun. For this mudrā, connect the tip of the ring finger
with the tip of the thumb to increase health and vitality. When we understand our Self, we can
be radiant like the sun.
Buddhi mudrā: Buddhi means the intelligence, knowledge of one’s self. For this mudrā, touch
the tip of the little finger to the tip of the thumb to enhance clarity. When we acknowledge and
accept that we are the smallest, this intelligence gives us the water of life that never dries up;
the tree of life will thrive. This is a great gesture for improving communication.
The mudrās above can be practiced with a single hand or both hands. For the following two mudrās
both hands are used.
Yoni Mudrā (Ṣaṇmukhī Mudrā): Yoni means the womb, the source. When we close the sense organs
(ears, eyes, nose, mouth), at the head, there is no external contact with the world. When the external
sounds and distractions are blocked, we have a chance to hear the inner sound, which is the source of
inner joy. Yoni Mudrā can allow us to attain spiritual calmness, enhance inwardness, relieve stress,
stabilize the mind, and increase concentration.
With this mudrā, even the breath channels are partly closed. As is known, the fetus in the mother’s
womb does not actually breathe in the womb. The mother breathes for the fetus, and essential energy
is passed to the fetus through the umbilical cord. The fetus does make breathing-like movements
though. When we practice Yoni Mudrā, focus on the navel. Visualize the connection with the Divine
through the navel and feel being protected and loved. To perform Yoni Mudrā:
 Close the ears with the thumbs.
 Use the index fingers and middle fingers to cover the eyes.
 Use the ring fingers to put gentle pressure on the nostrils so there is a smooth, slow
and subtle flow of breath.
 Put the little fingers at the corner of mouth as a reminder to be quiet.
Añjali Mudrā (Namaste): Añjali Mudrā or Namaste, is one of the gestures to express honour, respect
and obeisance. Añjali means joining the palms. Namas means bow down, te means you. Namaste means
“bow to you”. It could be used for greetings and farewells as well. Namaste could be done at the
beginning or the end of a Yoga class which helps to focus our awareness to the heart.
To perform Namaste, we put our hands together, fingers point upwards, thumbs close to the heart, or
palms together touching the forehead and then bring hands down to the heart. With this gesture
normally we slightly bow our head. Presenting Añjali Mudrā acknowledges the
divinity of both practitioner and recipient. It represents that we have the same
quality as a soul, regardless of one’s age, skin colour, health condition, citizenship,
work position, education level, financial situation, religious belief or any other
material condition that is related to the physical body. We see each other through
the heart.
Añjali Mudrā also can be used together with āsanas, such as Mountain Pose, Warrior I, Goddess Pose,
Salutation Pose, Tree Pose, Crescent Moon Pose, Standing Wide-legged Forward Bend Pose with Prayer
at the Back.
Āsana practice:
 Namaskārāsana (Salutation Pose)
Namaskāra means obeisance, respect.
The Subtle Body 9

 Anjaneyāsana (Low Lunge Pose, Crescent Moon Pose)


Anjaneya is another name for the Monkey God Hanumān. Hanumān is an incarnation of Lord
Śiva who wears the crescent moon in his hair.
 Paścima Namaskārāsana (Prayer at the Back Pose, Reverse Prayer Pose)
Paścima literally means the west. Here it implied the back of the whole body. Namaskāra
means obeisance, respect.

1.4 Bandhas
Bandha means binding, fetter, putting together, damming up (a river). Bandhas are a state of mind to
express attitudes toward the soul, including the relationship between the body and individual soul and
the relationship between the Self and Super soul. They help to guide different forms of prāṇa to join
together. We don’t need to make bandhas happen in the material body. The physical experience will
happen naturally when the mind is at the proper state and prāṇa binds. If we are working on the muscles
to force bandhas to happen, it will be very dangerous for the practitioner. Three main bandhas are
important: Jālandhara Bandha, Uḍḍiyana Bandha and Mūla Bandha.
Jālandhara Bandha: Physically, Jālandhara Bandha is a posture where the neck and throat are
contracted and the chin is rested in the notch between the collar-bones. This bandha occurs naturally
in various postures, such as Bridge Pose, Shoulder Stand Pose, and Plough Pose. Mentally, when we
regard our self as a beginner (beginner’s mind), always thinking we are a student, with this humble state
of mind, we lower our head towards the heart, then we are practicing Jalāndhara Bandha.
Āsana practice:
 Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana (Bridge Pose)
Setu means bridge, dam, Bandha means joining together, Sarvāṅga means the whole body.
 Sarvāṅgāsana (Shoulder Stand Pose)
Sarva means all, whole, entire, complete, Aṅga means limb or body.
 Halāsana (Plough Pose)
Hala means a plough.
Uḍḍiyāna Bandha: Uḍḍiyāna means flying up. The left moon Nāḍī and the right sun Nāḍī are like two
wings of a bird. Through the Uḍḍiyāna Bandha the prāṇa will fly up the Suṣumṇā Nāḍī like a bird. This
is one of the aims of Haṭha Yoga. T.K.V.Desikachar explains Haṭha Yoga as “Yoga in which the aim is to
unify the two energies of ‘ha’ (the left) and ‘ṭha’ (the right), and merge them into suṣumnā in the center
of the spine; the merging of prāṇa and apāṇa into the center of the body, at the heart”. 5
Uḍḍiyana is the best of bandhas and one who constantly practices it will be able to move the prāṇa flow
from the lower abdomen towards the head. The physical experience is that the ribcage expands and the
navel pulls in towards the spine. As we experience with the Three Part Breath (Dīrgha prāṇāyāma), by
making the A-U-M sound, the Uḍḍiyāna Bandha is present. To practice this bandha in a safe way is to
chant OM (āuṁ), the universal sound and the seed of spiritual knowledge.
Āsana practice:
 Śiśumārāsana (Dolphin Pose)
Śiśumāra is the Gangetic porpoise or dolphin.
 Anāhatāsana (Melting Heart Pose, Extended Puppy Dog Pose)
Anāhata is the name of the fourth Chakra (Heart Chakra).
 Chant OM in Sukhāsana (Easy Pose, Pleasant Pose)
Mūla Bandha: Mūla means original, root or source. Through this bandha, the energy at the lower
abdomen (apāna) will be driven up towards the energy in the heart (prāṇa).
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When apāna flows up, the Mūla Bandha is present. Physical experience is the contraction of the
perineum. This bandha awakens the energy at the lower chakras; the energy is known as Kuṇḍalinī which
is Divine energy that is hidden in the human being. As the area is between the genitals and anus, this
energy is usually regarded as sexual energy. When we guide the prāṇa from sexual urges to the love of
the Divine, to realize the Self, then we are able to practice Mūla Bandha. Otherwise, it will become a
Pelvic Floor Exercise.
Āsana practice:
 Siddhāsana (Accomplished Pose, Sage Pose)
Siddha means an inspired sage, seer or prophet.
 Supta Baddha Koṇāsana (Reclining Butterfly Pose, Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Supta means lain down to sleep. Baddha means caught, restrained. Koṇa means an angle.
 Mahā Mudrā (The Great Gesture)
Mahā means great or noble. Mudrā means a seal, a sealing-ring, a lock.

2. Chakras
Chakra means wheel or circle. Just like lakes will form at depression places on the Earth’s surface where
water gathers together, a chakra is a centre of our subtle energy body in which energy (prāṇa) joins.
There are 8 important chakras. Sufficient, freely flowing prāṇa at these chakras will make us feel alive
and energetic.
Each chakra corresponds to a certain part of our body. For instance, the first chakra corresponds to our
feet and legs. When we are getting old, we will notice our legs can get weak, we cannot stand firmly,
we can have trouble to keep balance and we can fall easily. Some people even not that old have the
same issues because the energy doesn’t flow freely or the energy level is low at the first chakra.
Chakras and Physical Body
Information
Chakra Body system Gland Age
channel
8. Wisdom Consciousness - 81 years and
Aura Hypothalamus
heart chakra conscience beyond
Perception -
7. Crown chakra Endocrine Pituitary 63 - 81 years
Knowledge
6. Brow chakra Lymphatic Pineal Memory - Brain 49 - 63 years
Thyroid and
5. Throat chakra Nervous Hearing - Ear 25 - 48 years
Parathyroid
Respiratory &
4. Heart chakra Thymus Touch - Skin 16 - 24 years
Cardiovascular
3. Navel chakra Muscular& Digestive Pancreas Sight - Eyes 11 - 15 years

2. Sacral chakra Urinary & Reproductive Gonads Taste - Tongue 6 - 10 years

1. Root chakra Skeletal Adrenal Smell - Nose Womb - 5 years

Chakras also affect our psychological development. Some adults even in their 40’s still act like children.
Some kids will act like adults; their subtle energy body and physical body out of balance, not matching.
The Subtle Body 11

If we know how to adjust the energy of the chakras, then we know how to bring ourselves back to
balance, both physically and psychologically.
Each chakra is associated with different elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and
false ego. Through looking at the elements, we can see how the chakras work on our physical body.
Every chakra is unique; we cannot say the 8th chakra is better than the 1st chakra. We should focus on
the flow of prāṇa, not the gathering of prāṇa. Too much prāṇa in one chakra will cause trouble too, like
too much water in a dam reservoir will overflow and cause flooding.

2.1 The First Chakra (Root) – The Gate to the Light


Sanskrit name: Mūlādhāra.
Mūla means original, root or source; ādhāra means foundation, container, resting place.
Corresponding body part: base of spine, the skeletal system, feet, legs, the rectum and descending
colon
Corresponding hormonal gland: adrenals
The adrenal glands regulate blood pressure and have a strong influence on our reaction to stress.
Age: womb - 5 years
Information channel: smell - nose
Mudrā: Yoni mudrā
Colour: red
Bīja Mantra: laṁ
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Element: earth
Manifestation: attachment, innocence
 Material oriented: repeats the same pattern, stubborn, relies on habits, restless, not awake
 Spiritual oriented: steady, calm, undisturbed, grave, sober
We tend to accept the physical body as our Self. We are busy giving the body nice clothes, delicious
food, physical gym exercise to keep fit, etc. We forget, without life force -- Prāṇa, the physical body loses
vitality even while we are still breathing. We forget to take care of the most important part -- our soul.
We don’t know or forget that the root of our Self is the soul. Because of ignorance, we forget our
inherent quality. A body without soul manifestation is like a desert; it doesn’t reflect our value as a
human being.
The first chakra is associated with the element earth, which is the foundation of all our activities. When
this chakra is deeply rooted, it gives the Self full support and stability for further development. Instead
of pursuing short-sighted irresponsible activities, we should look at the long-term benefits of the Self.
The fear of death is the real root cause of stress, suffering and misery in our life. To understand the
eternal, blissful soul can help us let go of the fear of death.
The soul dwells in the physical body. We need to know how to take care of the body properly; to let it
be a temple for the soul. The five perceptive sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) are
connected to chakras. When we are able to control our senses, we are actually controlling the energy
within which improves the function of the body. Seeing and hearing are the main sources of acquiring
information from the phenomenon world. Thus, we can start by withdrawing the sight organ -- eyes and
use visualization to guide the energy.

Meditation Practice: Visualization -- Earth and Tree

 Start by lying on your back.


 Close your eyes. Breathe in and out gently; natural breathing.
 Bring awareness to the feet. Visualize your feet standing on the ground; feel the support from
the ground.
 Imagine that you are a small tree. Your feet are like the roots of the tree, planted deep in the
earth.
 Visualize the earth giving you nutrients, water, everything you need. You can take freely. You
enjoy being taken care of. ( Pause )
 Year after year, with the support of the earth, now you grow up. You are a big tree. You have a
big trunk; your leaves can make food for yourself. You witness the clouds in the summer, rain in
the autumn, snow in the winter, and melting ice in the spring. You embrace the change.
Following nature’s rhythm you offer shade in the summer, fruit in the autumn, shelter in the
winter and hope in the spring with new growth. You witness and resonate with everything
around you. You enjoy everything around you, day after day. ( Pause )
 Bring your awareness to your feet again. See yourself standing on the ground. Feel the support
from the ground, solid ground. Feel the connection with the earth. The connections that cannot
be seen from the surface. Where do you stand? Where is your root? Where do you grow? Can
you live without the earth? Where does your strength come from? ( Pause )
 Bring awareness to the body. Be aware that you are lying on the floor; feel the support from the
floor. Be aware of your surroundings …Slowly… be aware of your breathing.
 When you feel you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
The Subtle Body 13

Āsana practice:
 Samasthiti / Tāḍāsana (Mountain Pose)
Sama means equal, same, even, proper; Sthiti means maintenance, staying, existence, resident
Tāḍa means mountain, a blow.
 Utthita Pārśvakoṇāsana (Side Angle Pose)
Utthita means extended, stretched, Pārśva means side or flank. Koṇa means angle, corner.
 Balāsana (Child Pose)
Bala means force, strength.
 Tiryaka Tāḍāsana (Swaying Palm Tree Pose)/ Ardha Chandrāsana (Standing Half Moon Pose)
Tiryak means crossways, crosswise, Tāḍa here refers to a straight tree.6 Ardha means half.
Chandra is the moon.

2.2 The Second Chakra (Sacral) – The Hindrance of Self-restraint


Sanskrit name: Svādhiṣṭhāna.
Svā means one’s self, the ego; adhiṣṭhāna means residence, abode. Svādhiṣṭhāna means place of Self.
Corresponding body part: lower abdomen, urinary & reproductive systems, all the body fluids
Corresponding hormonal gland: gonads
Age: 6 - 10 years
Information channel: taste - tongue
Mudrā: Jñāna mudrā
Colour: orange
Bīja Mantra: vaṁ
Element: water
Manifestation: anxiety, creativity
 Material oriented: sentimental, impulsive, wanderer
 Spiritual oriented: grateful, fair dealing, able to experience pleasure without addiction, walker
The second chakra corresponds to reproductive systems in our body. When we use it for sense and
sexual enjoyment only, it will lead us to an animal life -- following instinct. That’s why some believe that
sexual energy is the cause for the Self’s suffering and needs to be controlled absolutely. We should
remember, sexual energy is a part of Divine energy. To restrain the sexual urge externally by celibacy is
against nature and not suitable for the householder. Instead of controlling externally we can guide this
energy to Self-realization.
The new generation is the hope of the future. Children are like angels to show us the way to see the
world in a fresh new perspective. Their innocent pure eyes can see the beauty of reality even in an
imperfect situation. Taking care of children helps us connect with the energy of the heart and nourishes
love which maintains our vitality.
Āsana Practice :
 Uttānāsana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)
Uttāna means pointing upwards, turning the body.
 Matsyāsana (Fish Pose)
Matsya means a fish.
 Bhujaṅgāsana (Cobra Pose)
Bhujaṅga means a serpent.
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2.3 The Third Chakra (Navel) – The Temptation of Power


Sanskrit name: Maṇipūra.
Maṇi means pearls, gems, jewels; pūra means city. Maṇipūra means city of jewels.
Corresponding body part: navel area, solar plexus, muscular and digestive system
Corresponding hormonal gland: pancreas
The pancreas plays an essential role in converting food to energy.
Age: 11 - 15 years
Information channel: sight - eyes
Mudrā: Śhani mudrā
Colour: yellow
Bīja Mantra: raṁ
Element: fire
Manifestation: anger, fearlessness
 Material oriented: competitive attitude, strong mind, looking to experience success, charmer
 Spiritual oriented: great strength of self-discipline, clear mind, stamina, dreamer
This is the stage that we can receive benefits for our physical body, including strength, flexibility and
balance. We also will have a chance to gain fame, money, be attractive to other people, and all the
worldly rewards will be possible. How to use this potential power? Are we going to use this potential
power for body enjoyment or go out to search for our dream? Do we have courage to start a journey in
the heart space to face the challenge, to test our overall strength, flexibility and balance? If we can look
beyond material existence, keep self-restraint, overcome enjoyment temptations, then our physical
body is a stable and solid foundation for further Self-realization. We can fly like a bird and reach to a
higher realm -- the Heart chakra, in which our soul dwells.
Āsana practice:
 Ardha Matsyendrāsana (Half Lord of Fishes Pose, Half Spinal Twist)
Ardha means half. Matsyendra is one of the founders of Haṭha Yoga.
 Vyāghrāsana (Tiger Pose)
Vyāghra means Tiger.
 Sutala Sūrya Namaskār (Kneeing Sun Salutation)
Su means to go, move, tala means the palm of the hand. Sutala is a name of a planet beneath
the earth which is ruled by Bali Mahārāja. Sutala also is a name for the chakra centered in the
knees. Sūrya means sun. Namaskār means obeisance, respect.
 Pārśvōttānāsana (Intense Side Stretch Pose, Pyramid Pose)
Pārśva means side or flank, uttāna means pointing upwards, turning the body.

2.4 The Fourth Chakra (Heart) – The Reflection of True Love


Sanskrit name: Anāhata.
Anāhata means unwounded, unbeaten, intact. The voice from the heart is able to protect the Self and
emancipate the Self from darkness and ignorance.
Corresponding body part: heart, chest area, arms and shoulders, respiratory system and the
cardiovascular system.
The cardiovascular system’s main components are the heart, blood and blood vessels. The blood flows
in the network of blood vessels.
The Subtle Body 15

Corresponding hormonal gland: thymus


The thymus stimulates the development of a type of white blood cell which plays a vital role in disease
fighting.
Age: 16 - 24 years
Information channel: touch - skin
Mudrā: Añjali mudrā
Colour: green
Bīja Mantra: yaṁ
Element: air (wind)
Manifestation: grief, passion
 Material oriented: lonely, jealous, under the plea of love for sensuous enjoyment, being swayed
by emotions, love hunter
 Spiritual oriented: caring, respectful, gentle, self-loving, joyful, always fresh, a friend to others
What is love? Does love mean to enjoy, and to receive or give pleasure to the one we love? Does love
mean to control or give freedom to the one we love? True love is to take responsibility; to give, to serve,
without asking for a trade of anything for love. Everyone is looking for true love, but forget without
giving true love we cannot attain true love. To understand true love we need to open the heart which
might cause the heart to be hurt. Are we ready to attain true love? Unpredictable fate will change all
the time. Are we ready to use our whole life time to share the same fate with another person? Or, do
we just change our life journey partner whenever conflict or crisis happens?
Āsana Practice :
 Naṭarājāsana (Dancer Pose)
Naṭa means dancer, Rājā means king. Naṭarājā is a name of Śiva, the Lord of the Dance and the
master of Yogīs.
 Chaturaṅga Daṇḍāsana (Four-limbed Staff Pose)
Chatur means four. Aṅga means a limb. Daṇḍa means a staff.
 Catuṣpādapīṭham (Table Pose) to Cat and Cow Pose (Mārjārāsana and Surabhitanayāsana)
Catuṣpāda means four-foot, Pīṭham means pose, seat. Mārjāra means a cat. Surabhitanayā
means a cow.
 Ardha Pūrvottānāsana (Half Eastern Intense Stretch Pose, Reverse Table Pose, Crab Pose) to
Pūrvottānāsana (Eastern Intense Stretch Pose, Reverse Plank Pose)
Ardha means half, Pūrva literally means the east. Here it implied the front of the whole body.
Uttāna means pointing upwards, turning the body. In this pose the front of the body is pointing
upwards.

2.5 The Fifth Chakra (Throat) – The Beauty of Illusion


Sanskrit name: Viśuddhi.
Viśuddhi means complete purification, purity, holiness, virtue.
Corresponding body part: throat, neck, vocal chords and organs, nervous system
By sending electrical impulses, the nervous system responds to short-term changes very quickly.
Corresponding hormonal gland: thyroid and parathyroid
The thyroid regulates the way the body uses energy and parathyroid controls the calcium level in our
body.
Age: 25 - 48 years
Information channel: hearing - ears
Mudrā: Sūrya mudrā
16 A Complete Yoga Manual

Color: blue
Bīja Mantra: haṁ
Element: ether (sky, space)
Manifestation: illusion, faith
 Material oriented: discriminating, scattered mind, blind obedience, hypocrite
 Spiritual oriented: wonderful linguist, truthful, genius, modest, caller
Some believe that if we have faith in God then we can live in God’s kingdom after we die. But, if paradise
is so good, why are we not allowed to die and enjoy at once? What is reality? What is illusion? Even very
knowledgeable people can be bewildered.
The spiritual world and phenomenon world share the same Universal Law. If we cannot find happiness
in the material world we cannot be happy in the spiritual world either. Dreamland exists only if we work
on it. Otherwise, it only appears in our dream -- something produced from our mind and mixed with
reality.
The universe was not created from nothing. The sky seems void, but actually full of planets. We tend
to believe what we see with our own eyes. We forget that our sense organs have limitations. If we
believe our own eyes, then we believe the Sun is smaller than the Earth and the Earth is the centre of
Solar system. This is the power of illusion. We make believe like a child that the illusion is reality. We
forget where we live. We need to open our eyes to see through the outward appearance.

Prāṇāyāma Practice: Ujjāyī Prāṇāyāma (Ujjayi Breath)


The word Ujjāyī is composed of two parts: The prefix ud means upwards or superiority in rank. Jaya
means conquest, victory, triumph or success. We focus on the throat for Ujjayi Breath and we still
breathe in and out through the nose. The Ujjāyī prāṇāyāma is to create vibration of the glottis. As
the two vocal folds vibrate, we can express ourselves in voice. Like the river joins the ocean, prāṇā
inside our body is able to connect with the energy outside at the Viśuddhi chakra.
Physically, the vocal folds are related to the vagus nerve which interfaces with parasympathetic
nervous system control of the respiratory system, heart and digestive tract. When we practice this
prāṇāyāma properly, it will lead to a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, sooth the nerves and
tone the entire system, maintaining our vitality. Ujjāyī prāṇāyāma is normally used in Ashtanga Yoga.
 Sit comfortably. Breathe through both nostrils slowly, deeply and steadily.
 Slightly lower your head, and bring awareness to the throat. Listen to the sound “saaaa”
when you breathe in and the sound “haaaa” when you breathe out. The sound will be like
the sound of the ocean.
 Let the sound naturally happen, don’t constrict the throat too much.
 Continue the practice. Feel the air coming in and out on the roof of the palate.

Āsana practice:
 Siṁhāsana (Lion Pose)
Siṁha means lion.
 Uṣṭrāsana (Camel Pose)
Uṣṭra means camel.
 Hanumānāsana (Monkey God Pose)
Hanumān is the name of the powerful monkey god. Hanumān is an incarnation of Lord Śiva. Śiva
is the Destroyer of illusion and lives on Mount Kailāsa in the Himālayas.
The Subtle Body 17

The Story of Hanumānāsana (Monkey God): a posture named for the monkey deity Hanumān.
Hanumān is an unforgettable character in the great epic, Rāmāyaṇa; he is a symbol of courage,
loyalty, humility and devotion.
According to legend, when Rāma, the incarnation of Viṣṇu, his wife Sītā and his brother Lakṣmaṇa
are in exile in the forest, Rāvaṇa, the demon king of Laṅkā, kidnaps Sītā. Hanumān, the son of the
Wind god, as the friend and devoted servant of Rāma, goes in search of Sītā. After learning the where
abouts of Sītā, Hanumān assumes a gigantic form and makes a tremendous leap across the ocean to
Laṅkā and finds Sītā in Rāvaṇa’s garden. An army of monkeys build a bridge across the ocean with
floating stones which the name of Rāma has been written. Rāma and his group cross the bridge. After
a fierce battle, Rāma annihilates Rāvaṇa and Sītā is rescued.
During the battle against Rāvaṇa, Lakṣmaṇa is severely wounded by an arrow and lays unconscious.
With his colossal leap, Hanumān reaches the Himālayas and brings back with him the mountain
where powerful life-restoring plant grows. Thus the life of Lakṣmaṇa is revived.

2.6 The Sixth Chakra (Brow) – The Storehouse of Power


Sanskrit name: Ājñā.
Ājñā means to mind, perceive, notice, understand, command, to order.
Corresponding body part: space between eye brows, the lymphatic system
The lymphatic system is a vital part of the immune system and plays an important role in destroying the
cancer cells. It provides an accessory route of excess interstitial fluid to be returned to the blood.
Corresponding hormonal gland: pineal
The pineal gland is located near the centre of the brain in a tiny cave, between the two hemispheres.
The pineal gland receives both sympathetic and parasympathetic innervations. It secretes a hormone
known as melatonin. The production of melatonin is related to light and it helps in regulating a person's
sleep-wake cycle to maintain biological rhythm and regulates reproductive hormones to maintain
youthfulness.
Age: 49 - 63 years
Information channel: memory - brain (the sixth sense, third eye)
Mudrā: Taḍāka mudrā
Color: indigo
Bīja Mantra: āuṁ
Element: mind (thought)
Manifestation: confidence, envy
 Material oriented: dictatorial, pompous, self-centered, judgmental, commander
 Spiritual oriented: intuitive, broad perceptive, integrity, able to have long-term vision, mediator
The soul is intangible and is the feminine side of our Self. The physical body is the masculine side of the
Self. The mind perceives information from the physical body and also absorbs and records signals from
the soul. It is the key to let these two sides balance. The inside and outside environment impacts our
18 A Complete Yoga Manual

mind a lot. The demands of life pull us in different directions. A powerful mind that is able to control the
senses and guide this power to cultivate the relationship between body and soul, will allow us to
maintain peace in the swirl of life.
To search from the outside will not let the mind settle down; we need to change our perspective and
look inside. Look in our heart to see what the most important thing is in our life. Only by this way can
we experience peace and calm which gives us the inner strength to stand firm in the fast changing world.
Being able to concentrate, to listen to the inner voice is the first step to acquiring the power.
Āsana Practice :
 Jānu Śīrṣāsana (Seated Head-to-knee Forward Bend Pose)
Jānu means knees, Śīrṣa means head.
 Adho Mukha Śvānāsana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) and Phalakāsana (Plank Pose)
Adho means downward, Mukha means face, Śvāna means a dog. Phalaka means a plank, leaf.
 Garuḍāsana (Eagle Pose)
Garuḍa means eagle. Also the name of the king of all birds and carrier of Lord Viṣṇu.

2.7 The Seventh Chakra (Crown) – The Tool for Emancipation


Sanskrit name: Sahasrāra.
Sahasra means a thousand; ara means swift, speedy.
Corresponding body part: the crown of the skull, soft spot of a newborn, endocrine system
The endocrine system secretes hormones directly into the blood, rather than through a duct, bringing
about long-term adaptations and long lasting effects.
Corresponding hormonal gland: pituitary
The pituitary gland is considered the “King of the glands” as it releases hormones that control other
glands and regulates their functions.
Age: 64 - 81 years
Information channel: perception - knowledge
Mudrā: Buddhi mudrā
Color: violet
Bīja Mantra: silence
Element: intelligence (light)
Manifestation: courage, pride
 Material oriented: arrogant, addiction to religious ritual, meticulous, religion sustainer
 Spiritual oriented: open minded, broad perception and knowledge, expert in the science of self-
realization
Animals cannot document their experience for the next generation. Human beings are outstanding in
this way because they have thousands of years of written history and are able to learn from ancient
civilizations.
No matter where we live, we live for happiness, freedom and well-being. Each nation has developed the
wisdom to serve this same purpose and form their own culture. The same Absolute Truth has been
found everywhere and expressed in different ways. There is no best way but only suitable ways. It all
depends on the background of the practitioner. The one who is rooted in their own tradition and open
minded to learn the essence of other human’s heritage, attain a global view and can see beyond.
The Subtle Body 19

Prāṇāyāma Practice: Kapālabhāti Prāṇāyāma (Skull Shining Breath)


Kapāla means skull, bhāti means illuminate, shine, light. Kapālabhāti is one of the cleansing practices
that are mentioned in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā to remove impurities. Kapālabhāti is an internal
cleansing technique for purification of the skull and lungs. In Kapālabhāti, the inhalation is slow and
passive but the exhalation is vigorous and short. This process helps to cleanse the sinuses which are
a connected system of hollow cavities in the skull. When the pathways are clear, prāṇa energizes the
brain cells and stimulates glands in the brain, including the pineal gland, pituitary gland and
hypothalamus. These glands affect different body functions such as growth, reproduction, blood
pressure, sleeping patterns, temperature regulation, metabolism and pain relief. The pituitary gland
also links other endocrine glands to the nervous system.
This breath activates the solar plexus, and generates prāṇa to activate the entire body. But, like pure
white snow reflecting the sun light will cause snow blindness and temporary loss of vision, don’t do
this practice too long. Do it with an empty stomach and watch heart conditions, high blood pressure,
and menstruating. Avoid doing it during pregnancy.

 Sit with spine long. Breathe through both nostrils slowly, deeply and steadily.
 Focus on the third eye. Now exhale strongly through both nostrils by pushing the belly in.
Inhalation will naturally happen after the exhalation.
 Repeat this practice with a steady pace. Keep face relaxed. If abdominal muscles strain, stop.

Āsana practice:
 Bakāsana (Crane Pose)
Baka is a kind of heron or crane.
 Paramahaṃsāsana (Swan Dive)
Parama means best, most excellent, highest point; haṃsa means swan. Paramahaṃsa refers to
the universal spirit.
 Sālamba Śīrṣāsana (Supported Headstand Pose)
Sālamba means with support. Śīrṣa means the head.

2.8 The Eighth Chakra (Wisdom heart) – The Light of the True Self
Sanskrit name: Brahmaguhā.
Brahma means the one self-existent spirit, the Absolute. Guhā means in a hiding place, in secret. This
name is from “the father of modern Yoga”, “teacher of the teachers” Śrī Tirumalai Krishnamacharya’s
book Yoga Makaranda.7
Brahmaguhā refers to the wisdom HEART. The above discussed seven chakras form this HEART.
Corresponding body part: aura
Corresponding hormonal gland: hypothalamus
While the pituitary is the master gland, it is in turn, controlled by the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus
is the neural control centre for all endocrines systems. One of the most important functions of the
hypothalamus is to link the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland.
Age: 81 years and beyond
Information channel: consciousness - conscience
Mudrā: Yoga mudrā
Color: white/ golden
Bīja Mantra: OM
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Element: false ego (spirit)


Manifestation: Compassion, bewilderment
 Material oriented: confusion, identify individual self as deliverer
 Spiritual oriented: linking with universal energy, pure mind, able to witness nature without
being disturbed by it, able to take responsibility, protector
Āsana Practice:
 Vṛksāsana (Tree Pose)
Vṛksa means a tree.
 Utkaṭā Koṇāsana (Goddess Pose)
Utkaṭā means powerful, fierce. Koṇā means an angle, corner. This pose is dedicated to the
demon-slaying Goddess Durgā. Her presence indicates victory of good over evil.
 Sūrya Namaskār (Sun Salutation)
Sūrya means sun. Namaskār means obeisance, respect.
Chakra and Subtle Body
Chakra Element Mudrā Manifestation Colour Bija
8. Wisdom Compassion, White
False ego Yoga mudrā OM
heart chakra bewilderment Golden
7. Crown chakra Intelligence Buddhi mudrā courage, pride Violet silence
6. Brow chakra Mind Taḍāka mudrā confidence, envy Indigo āuṁ
5. Throat Blue
Ether Sūrya mudrā faith, illusion Haṁ
chakra
4. Heart chakra Air Añjali mudrā passion, grief Green Yaṁ
3. Naval chakra Fire Śhani mudrā fearless, anger Yellow Raṁ
2. Sacral chakra Water Jñāna mudrā creative, anxiety Orange Vaṁ
1. Root chakra Earth Yoni mudrā innocent, fear Red Laṁ

A rainbow has seven colours and together they form the rainbow. The 8th chakra is the fusion of the
above discussed seven charkas which allows us to see the whole picture. The essences of the Wisdom
heart chakra are tolerance, love, courage, compassion, knowledge, wisdom, without pride. Like mother
Earth is protected by layers of atmosphere that block out dangerous rays from the Sun. We can also
protected from the unknown by this chakra. We can strengthen each chakra and then listen to this
Wisdom heart to take action.
The atmosphere cannot be seen with our physical eyes. Similarly, the Wisdom heart cannot be seen
with our physical eyes. We can listen by heart. As long as we listen we can see more clear and clear from
the light. Even God is powerless without such a heart, as only through the Wisdom heart can Divine love
be expressed. This is the place where we look for balance between the material and spiritual world;
between stability and exploration. This Heart can be attained through a living Guru.
The Subtle Body 21

Meditation Practice: Neti Neti – Who am I


Neti means “Not this”. Neti Neti is a method of meditation to awaken our consciousness.8
I have different identities. My English name is Ivy, my Chinese name is Ying, and my Spiritual name
is Rupa. My name could change anytime, therefore it cannot be my true identity. I was a Chinese
citizen and now I am a Canadian citizen. I have been an administrator in an office, a cashier in a
grocery store, a customer representative, and a Yoga instructor at various locations. Since my
professions and positions always change, obviously the title that I am working with is not my true
identity.
Temporary names and titles are not me. Who am I? Is there anything eternal that can represent me?
I have different relationships. For my mother, I am a daughter; for my son, I am a mother; for my
teachers, I am a student; for my students, I am a teacher. These relationships with others, some
could change, some won’t change. It’s clear that it is not my true Self, the real “I”.
Relative relationships cannot identify me. Who am I? Is there anything existing that has a permanent
relationship with me?
I have different body parts. I stand on my feet, I use my hand to write, and I use my legs to walk. I
smell through my nose, see through my eyes, and listen through my ears. All these parts of my body
can be utilized for a certain function. So I take good care of my body. I use my body as an instrument
to sense and act in the world, but the body itself is not my Self.
My body is not me. Who am I? Can I see my Self?
I have different emotions. I laugh when I am happy; cry when I am upset. I loved someone and now
I don’t. I was calm yesterday and I have anger today. “I” can see emotions come and go like waves,
and change all the time. Therefore, emotions cannot be me, the real “I”.
Emotions are not me. Who am I? Where do all these emotions come from?
I have a mind. My mind is my best friend when it listens to me, but sometimes my mind doesn’t obey
me. Instead, my mind follows a habit. I want to go to Yoga class, but my mind doesn’t obey me; I
can’t go out because of the habit of watching TV. Obviously, my mind is only one of the sense organs
and it is not my Self.
My mind is not me. Who am I? How can I master the mind?
I have intelligence to recognize, perceive, discover and express myself and the world around me. The
content of intelligence, which is knowledge, is changing constantly as I learn, experience and
exchange ideas with others. Intelligence, like the mind, is only another tool to bridge the spiritual
world and phenomenon world. It cannot be me, the real “I”.
Intelligence is not me. Who am I? What is the ultimate purpose of practicing Yoga?
Material identities, relationships, the physical body, emotions, the mind, and intelligence are not me.
Then, where is “I”, what is “I”, who am “I”?

The subtle body gives us the ability to exchange energy and information with the environment. The
physical body provides the place for the subtle body to be expressed. Together they form the Self.

3. The Modes of Nature (Guṇas)


The visible physical body is comprised of the elements earth, water, fire, air, and ether. These elements
are the same ingredients as material nature. Since change is the Law of nature, we cannot expect our
Self to always be peaceful and calm.
22 A Complete Yoga Manual

Most of us are afraid of change, but whether we like it or not, things change all the time. Seasons change
from winter to spring; people change from young to old; today’s superstars become a memory in no
time. Things happen because of the development and mixing of the modes of nature, and we are not
actually the ones who can change material nature even if we believe that human beings are superior.
Material nature has its own way to operate. Most of us are affected by the modes of nature, but we
always foolishly believe that we are in control. To know our real situation, we should understand
material nature and know how to transcend the modes of nature (Guṇas).
The three modes of nature are: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. They affect all the activities of the Self.
 Sattva means true essence, nature, disposition of mind, character, the quality of purity, or
goodness.
 Rajas means coloured or dim space, darkening quality, passion, emotion, affection.
 Tamas means darkness, gloom, the cause of heaviness, ignorance, illusion, lust, anger, pride,
sorrow, dullness and stolidity.
To purify ourselves in Sattva is not enough. Think about when we are at the North Pole or South Pole;
everywhere is pure white, and we actually cannot find the direction and are easily lost. Also, people in
goodness will become conditioned by the concept of happiness. We should know what happiness is.
Some people when intoxicated feel happy at that moment. But obviously that’s not true happiness, it’s
artificial. Without the experience of sorrow, we are not able to recognize happiness even if it is with us.
The concept of happiness is the opposite of sorrow. Sorrow comes after happiness; happiness comes
after sorrow. No one can avoid this paradox. Like day comes after night, night comes after day. Death
comes after birth, birth comes after death. This is the Law of material nature. Happiness cannot be
separate from sadness. Don’t expect temporary, cheap, easily gained happiness. Only the one who has
experienced the meetings and partings, and the joys and sorrows is able to understand and attain
eternal bliss.
These three modes -- Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are not qualities of the soul but qualities of material
nature. Nature is like the ocean and the modes of nature are like the waves changing all the time. One
moment it is calm and peaceful, and the next moment is a fierce storm. Since change is the Law of
nature, we don’t have to waste time and energy to analyze every detail of nature. That will just make
us stressed and exhausted. Instead, we acknowledge the change and transcend the modes of nature to
Nirguṇa.
Nirguṇa doesn’t mean that we don’t have modes of nature, like a dead lake. No one can stop the modes
of nature as we are living in the material world. Nirguṇa means that we are not affected by the modes
of nature. The Self is simply a witness to the actions and reactions of these modes.
We allow the Self to be carried back and forth on the waves like a piece of wood, but are not influenced
by the changes. It doesn’t mean that we just wander around without direction. To reach the Nirguṇa
state needs knowledge and conscience as an anchor and the ability to direct the mind. The Yoga Sūtra
(1.2) says:
“Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that direction without
any distractions.”
Meditation can help us attain this ability and under the guidance of a spiritual master can make the
ocean journey much easier.
Sāṃkhya Yoga and Meditation 23

Part 3

Sāṃkhya Yoga and Meditation

1. Sāṃkhya Yoga
With the restraint of the river bed, the journey of a river can be simple. Even if it’s long, it has no
choice but to go towards the ocean. After the river goes through all the twists and turns and at last
reaches the ocean, is this the journey’s end or beginning? Can we face the immense ocean? With the
body holding the soul, we might have to face a lot of troubles in our lives. We just deal with what we
have to face. How about death? Is death the end or beginning? How do we deal with death? Are we
ready?
The Self manifests both the soul and the physical body. For the physical body we transcend the modes
of nature. To understand the soul, we need a purified mind and awakened consciousness. This can be
attained by Sāṃkhya Yoga. The word Sāṃkhya means numeral, relating to number; rational or
discriminative. Sāṃkhya Yoga is an analytical method of distinguishing the body from the Self, to
understand the soul.

Meditation Practice: Counting


Counting meditation is to set a number to count to. We can count from 1 to 100, or count down
from 100 to 1. Our mind is to focus on the number counting. It doesn’t matter if we lose count of
the number, we can just start from the beginning number again. Focus on counting, clearly and
slowly. Keep alert and aware.
Self-inquiry for the Counting meditation: limited and unlimited, temporary and eternal
Through the amount of limited numbers, we know numbers are unlimited. This is knowledge of
Math. Even though we haven’t seen the infinite number, we accept there is an infinite. Similarly,
we can use the temporary existing physical body to understand the eternity of the soul. This is
spiritual knowledge. As long as we study sincerely, through the power of knowledge, we can accept
the existence of the invisible soul.
Spiritual knowledge can give us some ideas of how to face the unknown world, especially death.
We just need to learn the method and practice. Even a little bit of practice will save us from the
ocean of the unknown. If consciousness is awakened, then at the moment we die even if the mind
is absent, we can rely on consciousness. So, while we are living we need to utilize the mind to
awaken and cultivate consciousness by meditation.
24 A Complete Yoga Manual

The Bhagavad-gītā (2.20) tells us:


“The soul is not born. It won’t die. It never will not exist. Unborn, eternal, constant-existing and
primeval, it does not die when the body dies.”
There are three layers to understanding the soul:
 Individual soul: Every living being has a soul. From the soul level every individual entity is equal.
Like clouds, ice, fog, rain or water from rivers, lakes, oceans, in the eyes of scientists they are
all H2O even though their forms are not the same.
 Super soul:Even though every individual soul is equal in quality as a soul, their quantity is not
the same. Just as a glass of water cannot compare to the amount of a river, the Super soul is
the soul of a Self-realized person, such as Muhammad, Christ Jesus, Buddha, Kṛṣṇa and Śiva.
Because they are completely Self-realized, their words are God’s words and they are
worshipped as God. They are God’s manifestation in the form of human beings which allows
for other humans to see.
 Universal soul: The one and only God. Depending on culture and language the name is
different in different places, such as Allah, Jehovah, God, Shen, Īśhvara, Bhagavān. The names
are not the same but point to the same -- the soul of the only Supreme controller.
The composition of the individual soul, supersoul and universal soul are all the same, but the forms
are different.

2. Consciousness and Mind Manifestation


The mind perceives information from the physical body and also absorbs and records signals from the
soul. Consciousness is the channel between the body, mind and soul. The depths of Self-realization
depend on the purity of the mind. The purity of the mind depends on the purity of the body and the
state of consciousness. The purity of the body depends on the food we eat and the way we cleanse.
The state of consciousness depends on our previous cultivation and the source of knowledge.
The soul is like the Sun. When consciousness is completely cultivated like the full moon, then the mind
can accurately perceive. When the mind is strong, then the body can be guided by the mind. When the
mind is completely pure like the sky without clouds, then the body can see the bright and brilliant soul.

Consciousness Consciousness
Body Mind Soul

 The state of consciousness gives the mind the direction of acting.


 The strength of the mind gives the body the ability to take action. The purification of the mind
gives the Self the ability to make proper decisions.
 Meditation helps to strengthen the mind. Learning knowledge about the Self helps to purify the
mind.
Basically, the Self has two categories of states: Waking States and Sleeping States.
 Waking States:
1) Animal instinct state: Not aware of the existence of the soul. Regards the gross physical
body as the Self. The body is totally influenced by the modes of nature. The mind is
illustrated.
Sāṃkhya Yoga and Meditation 25

2) Human being state: Aware of the existence of the soul. The mind’s state, from foggy to
clarity, depends on the purity of the mind and the modes of nature.
3) Reflection state: The mind is in absolute control. From madness to peace, depends on the
state of consciousness, the purity and the strength of the mind, and the modes of nature.
4) Transcendental state: Aware of the activities of the body and soul. The mind is pure and
sharp. From sadness to bliss, depends on the modes of nature.
 Sleeping States:
1) Dream state: The soul and body are connected with a coloured mind. Bad or nice dreams
depend on the colour of the mind.
2) Transcendental dreamless deep sleep state: The soul and body are connected with a
transparent mind. The length of deep sleep depends on the sleeper’s modes of nature and
the guide’s state of consciousness.
3) Sleepwalking state: The body has activities. But the individual cannot control the activities
of the body. The soul and body are connected with the mind absent. The consciousness is
in absolute control. Behaviour depends on the state of consciousness and modes of
nature.
4) Vegetative state: The body has no activities. The possibility to awaken depends on the
love between individual beings and the strength of the mind of the caller.

2.1 Animal Instinct State and Awakening


Covered by material energies, the individual doesn't even know that a soul is associated with the
physical body. In this state, the individual is still functioning normally, such as eating, sleeping, acting,
but cannot really be regarded as a real human being. The consciousness of the individual being is in
the animal instinct state. Think about what the differences are between an animal and human being.
We could be proud of having intelligence to build big buildings. But bees can also build a perfect
beehive. We could be proud of making a plane to travel here and there, but birds also can fly here and
there. We can work, but ants work too. We can change the way we look on the outside by changing
clothes, but chameleons can change the way they look. We could enjoy the sunshine at the beach, but
any other being is able to do so. We have a social system, but ants and bees have social systems too.
What is the difference between animal living and human being living? The difference is: A human
being is able to realize the Self! If consciousness is not awake, and we don’t cultivate our
consciousness to understand who we are, then so called human living is actually animal living. It is the
most miserable situation -- people who are trapped in the web of material energies and living like
animals, regard themselves as enjoying human life. When death comes without notice, they don’t
know how to face this, never having attained training about the soul.
We spend money to buy insurance for uncertain events, why don’t we spend time on cultivating
spiritual knowledge to understand the certain thing -- death? The beneficiary is our Self. To associate
with a person that is at the human consciousness state is the key to being awake. What we need is to
be willing to resume the state of human consciousness and recognize the value as a human being.

Āsana practice:
 Bowing Pose, Prostration Pose (Praṇāmāsana)
Praṇāma means bowing down. Some call this Śaśāṅkāsana (Hare Pose). Śaśāṅka is the name of
the moon, and is also another name for Śiva, the master of Yoga.
 Goddess with Lion’s Roar
Goddess Durgā is a fearless warrior shown riding a lion or tiger.
 Donkey Kick
A preparation pose for Adho Mukha Vṛkṣāsana (Handstand Pose).
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2.2 Human Being State and Sense Control (pratyāhāra)


The Bhagavad-gītā (2.20) says:
“One who withdraws the senses from sense objects completely, like a tortoise draws its limbs into the
shell, this person’s knowledge is rooted.”
The mind is the master of the senses and is supposed to be able to control the senses, but the mind is
so easily influenced by the sense organs that we cannot restrain ourselves. We cannot withhold
ourselves from over eating even though we know we are overweight; we cannot quit smoking even
though we know it is not good for the health; we know exercise is good, but even faced with a 5
minute walking distance we will drive because of the convenience. We give the body freedom to be
attracted by the objects of sense gratification and when disease happens we have to suffer.
Human beings and animals are alike to enjoy the senses. The ability to control the senses is a
beginning sign of human consciousness. So instead of letting the mind be agitated by the waves of
signals from the senses and always be in a foggy unclear condition, we need to practice meditation to
withdraw the senses in order to strengthen the mind. The easiest way of meditation to withdraw the
senses is through Mantra meditation.
The word mantra, consist of the root man, which refers to “to set the heart or mind on, to perceive,
observe, learn, know, understand, comprehend”, tra means “protecting”. Mantra means “instrument
of thought, speech, sacred text or speech, a prayer or song of praise”. A mantra is a sound vibration
that delivers a message to the mind. When we chant a mantra, which consists of Divine energy, the
mind is able to stop the chatter, and let us be free from stress and disturbances. Mantra meditation
also helps to withdraw the taste organ, the tongue, so we won’t gossip or be nosy about others
activities.

Meditation Practice: Mantra Meditation


 Listening: Choose a recording and play the mantra
 Repeating: Choose a mantra and repeat in the mind or recite with Japa beads
 Chanting: Chant together with others
All these forms count as Mantra meditation. An example of a mantra for meditation is:
oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya (May divine consciousness be birthed or awakened within me)

By knowing the meaning of the mantra will increase its effect as we have knowledge of what we are
repeating instead of reciting the mantra like a machine. Reading the Indian ancient tales helps to
understand the meaning of mantras. By repeating a certain amount of the mantra every day, we
definitely can benefit from the mantra.
We can do Mantra meditation anywhere, anytime -- at home while cooking, washing dishes or other
house work; driving in the car, riding on the bus or subway, or waiting in a queue. Mantra meditation
is so effective that it is recommended for everyone as a form of meditation.
There are two formal types of Mantra Meditation. One is Japa, the other is Kīrtana. Japa means
“muttering, whispering” and understood as reciting a mantra. To count the amount of mantra
recitations, one of the ways is to use Japa beads. Japa beads are a rosary (mālā) of 108 beads and a
larger bead. The larger bead represents the Divine. To use the beads, hold the first bead with thumb
and middle finger and recite the complete mantra. Then go on to the next bead and then the next,
continuing in this way until you have recited on all 108 beads and have come to the larger bead. This is
one complete round of Japa. Do not count on the larger bead. Then turn the beads around and recite
on the beads in the opposite direction, one after another.
Sāṃkhya Yoga and Meditation 27

By reciting the mantra, we engage our tongue; by listening to the mantra, we engage our ears; by
using the beads, the sense of touch is engaged. In this way we withdraw the senses.
Āsana practice:
 Ānanda Balāsana (Happy Baby Pose)
Ānanda means ecstasy, pleasure, blissful, happiness, joy; Bala means strength, force.
 Kūrmāsana (Turtle Pose)
Kūrma means tortoise.
 Vajrāsana (Rock Pose)
Vajra means the hard or mighty one, a thunderbolt.

The Story of Ānanda Balāsana (Happy Baby): Before dawn, it is the darkest night. Before being
delivered, the baby needs to go through the narrow dark birth canal to come to this world.
The story of Happy Baby relates to Mukunda, the one who gives liberation to the spiritual
practitioner. A learned sage, Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi is meditating at the bank of a river. A strong fast wind
suddenly arises. The wind creates a terrible sound and black clouds obstruct the sun and hurls
lightning in every direction. Rains are pouring down, and the world is all covered by water. This is
the final dissolution of the world. Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi sees all the inhabitants of the universe, including
himself, submerged in the water of inundation. As the whole world is flooded, he becomes fearful
and loses consciousness. He experiences lamentation, bewilderment, misery and pain. He feels
himself dying. He is left wondering like this for countless years.
Suddenly, amongst all the confusion, Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi notices a banyan leaf floating on the water,
tossed by the waves. On this unlikely raft lies a beautiful and adorable child sucking his right toe,
unperturbed by the calamity that has befallen the world. It is Mukunda who frees us from illusion.
The infant's heavenly smile negates the brutality of the cosmic deluge. His compassionate glance
reassures Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi that this is not the end of the world, but beginning of a new life.

2.3 Reflection State and Concentration (dhāraṇā)


Concentrated solar power can produce fire, and drilling into wood also can produce fire. These
examples tell us how powerful it could be when we concentrate. In a reflection state one can be in
danger when the mind perceives information from a single point. What the mind chooses to focus on
is very important.
Think about the difference between a shooter at a sporting contest and a marksman in the war. Both
are good at concentration. But, the skill used in the war causes chaos, horror and death while during a
sports contest encourages increased strength, stamina and hand-eye coordination. The Bhagavad-gītā
(6.6) states:
“The mind is a friend of the Self for whom has conquered the mind; but for one who is not self-
mastered, the very mind will be the enemy.”
Ability and power are not the only elements that we are concerned with; we are concerned with the
purpose. Only when we focus on Self-purification, then we can attain ultimate peace.
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Meditation practice: Trāṭaka


Trāṭaka9 is one of the cleansing practices that are mentioned in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā to
remove impurities. Trāṭaka is steady gazing at a particular point or object without blinking. We can
start for 1 minute then slowly increase the time. Steady practice is more important than the length
of the time. As long as the mind is concentrated on the object of Trāṭaka, even 10 seconds is better
than one hour practice with a wandering mind. Close your eyes when you need to; keep the mind
on the object. Sometimes there will be tears. That’s normal. Trāṭaka can improve eyesight.
Different objects can be used for Trāṭaka:
 Gaze at a green tree in the distance.
 In the evening, lie down at a place outside where you can see the sky; gaze at the Moon.
 Put a picture of OM in front of you. Do Trāṭaka on it.
 Put a picture of the Divine or a person who can remind you of the Divine in front of you. It
may be a picture of Lord Krishna, Shiva, Rama, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Mother Mary,
the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, your Guru, etc. Steadily look at the picture; stay as long as
you can. Then close your eyes and visualize the person in your mind.
 Put a lamp or candle in front of you and gaze at the flame.

Āsana practice:
 Vīrabhadrāsana I, II, III (Warrior I, II, III Pose)
Vīrabhadra is a name of a powerful warrior who comes out of Śiva’s hair. Śiva is the Destroyer
of ignorance.

The Story of Vīrabhadrāsanas (Warriors): Warrior poses are being practiced a lot in Yoga classes.
So, what is the essence of these Warrior postures? We can understand these āsanas from a
Mahābhārata story:
A group of warriors are studying under their mentor Droṇa. One day, Droṇa wants to know if they
grasp the art of concentration. Droṇa sets up a small wooden bird in a distant tree and asks his
students to strike the eye of the wooden bird with their arrow.
Before the warriors take action, Droṇa asks his students what they see.
“I see the wooden bird, the leaves beside the bird, the branch the bird is sitting on, the tree. I can
see grass under the tree, other trees around, the sky, the clouds…”
One by one, students give a similar answer. They name off everything. Droṇa asks them to put
down their bows and even does not allow them to try as he knows that they won’t hit the eye of
the bird.
At last Droṇa reaches Arjuna. “What do you see?”
“The eye of the wooden bird” Arjuna answers clearly.
“Is this the only thing you can see? Are you sure? There are lots of things around. Your eyesight
must have some problems.” Droṇa is testing Arjuna.
“The eye of the wooden bird, this is the only thing I see.” Arjuna answers firmly.
Droṇa is pleased with this response and orders Arjuna to shoot. Arjuna holds his bow steady, gazing
at the target and shoots the arrow which goes straight forward and hits the wooden bird’s eye.
Self-inquiry from the story: The ability to see can be an obstacle to fulfilling a task. The ability to
perform a difficult āsana can lead us in the wrong direction of Yoga practice. Is Yoga for the
purpose to get power or Self-realization?
Sāṃkhya Yoga and Meditation 29

2.4 Dream State and Meditative-absorption (dhyāna)


In dreams, we sometimes feel happy and sometimes distressed and sad, and we see things arise and
dissolve. We can see, we can feel, passing from one dream to another, that all appears true and we
believe everything that has happened is true.
The mind perceives information from both the brain and the soul. When consciousness is in dream
state, the mind is being coloured by the brain. When the mind perceives the information through rose
coloured glasses, the dream is nice, we feel calm and happy. It makes us feel so good that we just
want to stay in the dream and nothing else. On the other hand, when the mind perceives through blue
coloured glasses, we might suffer. Like the dream of a tiger chasing us or the hurt by someone we love.
We experience a true fear or pain. Happy or sad, all the feelings are true, but we forget one important
thing -- it is a dream. During meditation our experience is like a dream which is mixed with reality and
illusion.
Āsana practice:
 Nāṭavarāsana (Krishna’s Pose, Flute Playing Pose)
Nāṭa means dancing, acting, Varā means better, preferable, better than. Kṛṣṇa is well
known for playing the flute.
 Mṛgāsana (Deer Pose)
Mṛga means deer.
 Upaviṣṭha Koṇāsana (Wide-angle Seated Forward Bend Pose, Dragonfly Pose)
Upaviṣṭha means seated. Koṇa means an angle.

The purpose of meditation is to purify and sharpen the mind to acquire a suitable place for
consciousness to awaken and cultivate; not to let the mind be “blank”, or try to stop thoughts,
because the function of the brain is to think. Instead, we train our mind to be an observer and then
are able to awaken consciousness to know what is happening in the mind and the world around us.
Through practice, we can elevate our consciousness to the transcendental level with the help of the
mind. With constant cultivation the mind and soul recognize, connect with and understand each other.
A lot of people might experience being overwhelmed with thoughts and feel more stressful instead of
experiencing clarity, or just get stuck to the thoughts and cannot come back. We forget the original
purpose of meditation. Don’t be stuck at these temporary experiences. Come back to reality from
dreamland. Remember, meditation is to understand the Self. That is why a spiritual master is so
important. A spiritual master is the one who can remind us of our original purpose of spiritual practice
and wake us up when we are stuck in the dream.
A bad or good dream is only an experience. Meditation is a rehearsal of life. Meditation gives us a
chance to see the pattern of our mind and change the pattern if need be. Also, meditation is to train
our mind to face stress so when things happen in life we have some idea of how to deal with them.
Meditation helps us develop the ability to distinguish illusion from reality and gain strength of mind.
Like physical body strength training, we cannot expect it to be easy.
To practice meditation we need persistence. Think about a small stream originating from a snow
mountain. If it keeps collecting water from the snow, the rain, and other streams, then it will be able
to become a river. By repeating the same process, collecting water from the snow, the rain, the other
rivers, then the river will not dry up from heat and consumption. At the same time, this river should be
able to keep in the river bed, and not spread everywhere, otherwise before reaching the sea, it will
disappear from the earth. So, we keep up the practice, and when the time comes, we will see the
results. When the layers of material energy -- earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false
ego are removed, the soul, hidden in a shell, will be revealed and shine.
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Meditation practice: Śri Yantra


Śri means “spread or diffuse (light or radiance or beauty) over”. Yantra means machine, vehicle;
instrument. A Yantra is a diagram formed by squares, triangles, circles and floral patterns. It
contains cosmic truths. Our body is the instrument for the soul to shine.

The dot in the center represents the Self. The triangle represents the three Guṇas (modes of
nature) -- Sattva, Rajas and Tamas that work on activities of every living being. The vertical eight
layers of the triangle represent the eight material energies -- earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind,
intelligence and false ego, in which the living being is entangled. The Self sinks in the net of
material energies, like being besieged in a jail. The same material energy can be transformed for
spiritual cultivation. Our body can be a sacred place for our Self to blossom, like the beautiful
opening lotus flower, which is present in the Śri Yantra as petals. To set the Self free from the
influence of the modes of nature and the trap of material energies, we need to know how to find a
way to go out of the net. The knowledge of this is spiritual knowledge.
The image of the circles indicate that there is no beginning and no end of time, the eternity of the
soul, and also embodies the repetitions of death and birth. As long as we are living in the material
world, we need to accept the process of birth, disease, old age and death.
When the mind is concentrated on the heart and listens to the voice of the heart, the purpose of
life can be revealed. Use the way of Trāṭaka to do Yantra Meditation and focus on the centre, the
dot, intently and softly. The intentional gaze helps the mind focus. Be aware of what you
experience. When you need to, close your eyes, while still keeping the Yantra image in your mind’s
eye.

Āsana practice:
 Brahmāsana (Half Lotus Pose)
Brahma means the one self-existent spirit, the Absolute. According to Krishnamacharya,
Brahmāsana is also the name of Supported Headstand Pose. 10
 Svastikāsana (Auspicious Pose)
Svasti means fortune, happiness, auspiciousness, Kā means who.
 Baddha Koṇāsana (Bound angle Pose, Butterfly Pose)
Baddha means bound, Koṇa means angle, corner.

2.5 Transcendental Dreamless Deep Sleep State and Yoga Nidrā


Yoga means connect, link; Nidrā means sleep. Yoga Nidrā helps us to relax. It is used for relaxation,
which helps to reduce stress and decrease levels of anxiety. Also, allows the parasympathetic nervous
system (PNS) to work, which helps to improve digestive function. Śavāsana (Corpse Pose) is the best
āsana to experience Yoga Nidrā.
Sāṃkhya Yoga and Meditation 31

Yoga Nidrā also gives an opportunity to experience what might happen when we die. With the body
like a corpse on the floor without any movement, the mind and intelligence are not working, and if we
are being guided to a wonderful place, then we can experience peace and calm. So, it is very
important for the one who guides the Yoga Nidrā to create a comfortable space.

Prāṇāyāma Practice: Bumble Bee Breath (Bhrāmarī Prāṇāyāma)

Bhrāmarī means a large black bee. Sit in any comfortable posture and follow your natural breath.
Inhale through both nostrils, and as you exhale, make a soft humming (M-M-M) sound like the
murmuring of bees. The humming sound in Bhrāmarī is helpful in cases of insomnia.
Doing this with Yoni Mudrā (Ṣaṇmukhī Mudrā) before Śavāsana enhances the relaxation. Yoni
Mudrā is also called Ṣaṇmukhī Mudrā. Ṣaṇ means six, mukha means face, mouth. Ṣaṇmukha is the
name of the six-headed Lord of war. When we make the humming sound, the mind doesn’t have a
chance to think. Here in the Mudrā stands for the five senses and the mind is blocked.

Most of us experience peace and calm in Yoga Nidrā. This tells us death is not as terrible as we think.
We could have a peaceful death like Yoga Nidrā as long as we allow the body to be still, and allow us
to be guided.
After Yoga Nidrā, allow the Self to be guided to come back and wake up. Extend the whole body in
Taḍāka mudrā (Tank Mudra) and turn to one side into Garbhāsana (Foetus Pose) before moving to
seated position. Then we can be rejuvenated and enjoy life again.
Āsana practice:
 Śavāsana (Corpse Pose)
Śava means a corpse.
 Taḍāka Mudrā (Tank Mudra)
Taḍāka means tank, pool. Taḍāka refers to the big pools on the temple grounds in India.11
mudrā means a seal, a seal-ring, a lock.
 Garbhāsana (Foetus Pose)
Garbha means womb.

Like a river merges with the ocean; the mind merges with the soul. There is no difference between the
mind and soul. Or we can say the two become one. As peace and calm are experienced; no more
worry, and no more stress. This is good! A lot of people believe that this is the end of Self-realization,
but it is only the end of the journey of the river. A peaceful death is only the end of the journey of the
physical living body. Another journey is awaiting; the ocean, which is the journey after death. If we use
Yoga Nidrā to release stress and anxiety only, it is actually a relaxation. Relaxation can rescue us from
the fear of death. But we are still suffering from the repetition of birth, disease, old age and death.
Yoga Nidrā is a tool. Use the tool properly, and it will lead us to ultimate release and relaxation. The
real purpose of Yoga Nidrā is to understand the Self; to find the way to revive the relationship
between the body and soul. It is a type of deep meditation.
Āsana practice:
 Padmāsana (Full Lotus Pose)
Padma means a lotus.
 Vīrāsana (Hero Pose)
Vīra means a hero, warrior.
 Chandra Namaskār (Moon Salutation)
Chandra means moon. Namaskār means obeisance, respect.
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Meditation (Prāṇāyāma) Practice: Kumbhaka Prāṇāyāma (Breath Retention)


Kumbhaka means a measure, the base of a column. Kumbhaka Prāṇāyāma is to suspend the inhale
and/or exhale by pausing the inhalation and/or exhalation.
 Sit comfortably. Bring awareness to your breathing, naturally breathe.
 Inhale to a count of “4”. Without any strain, hold the breath.
 Exhale to a count of “4”. Pause naturally.
 Observe the flow of your breath. Can you still feel the flow of your breath? Does the pause
stop the flow?
 Continue with your breath flowing freely.
Self-inquiry for Kumbhaka meditation: The pause of breath doesn’t stop the flow of breathing. Is
death the end of existence?

The eternal soul is undying ever-existing and has similar activities as we live. We need to acknowledge
the importance of spiritual education; to know more about the soul, and the activities of the soul.
Instead of letting the mind merge with the soul, we use our mind to elevate consciousness to the
transcendental level. Modern society neglects education about the soul and denies the activities of
the soul, with the result that more and more people use death as a solution for stress and crisis.

2.6 Sleepwalking State and Trance (samādhi)


Like riding on ocean waves, the body and soul are connected. Trance (samādhi) is definitely ecstasy for
the individual being. At last the individual being directly experiences the existence of the soul which is
purely blissful and boundless. It’s like a mother holding the new born after a long period of delivery.
When the baby is born, who will take care of the baby? Who will take care of the soul? After we
recognize the soul, we should take the responsibility to take care of the soul.
Samādhi means “intense absorption or a kind of trance”; also means “a sanctuary or tomb of a saint”.
In trance (samādhi) the body is like in a sleepwalk state. The body is able to perform activities by
habitual repetition like a train on the track, but the mind is absent. The individual may or may not be
aware of the activities of the body depending on the state of consciousness. Either way, the
practitioner cannot control their activities because of the absence of the mind.
If the practitioner is still in an animal instinct state, then misbehaviour will happen. And some people
think the practitioner is haunted by an evil spirit. This is the dark side of the Self and can be the tomb
of our Self. Instead of blaming a demonic influence from the outside, one should clearly understand
that this is the dark side of one’s own-self. We should remind our self to develop the mode of
goodness when we are awake, to counteract this darkness. Don’t take for granted that we are always
in human consciousness. To remain in human consciousness we need to continuously cultivate the Self.
Otherwise, we will be shocked of what we might do.
Even if the practitioner is in human consciousness, in trance the practitioner’s behaviours will be like a
baby, no logic, spontaneous and impromptu. But, since the practitioner is in an adult form, they will be
regarded as mad. If there is someone that they really care about in the physical world, like family
members, then it is possible for them to come back to normal soon. Otherwise, they may stay in
trance for a long time. A householder spiritual practitioner now needs family support as the
circumstances are not the same as in ancient times. If we can remember what has happened in trance
and face it, knowing it was the last darkness before the dawn, then this is a valuable experience to
understanding the soul.
Sāṃkhya Yoga and Meditation 33

Meditation Practice: Haṃsā – Who am I

Aham means “I am”. Sā meaning “she, that”. Haṃsā means “I am that”


We normally breathe in and out through the nose, this breathing technique is through the mouth
and nose. And, we normally breathe in first and then breathe out; this technique is initiated with
the out breath. There are three situations when this breathing will happen.
 Gasp: When we have run a long distance and we are out of breath naturally we will open the
mouth to gasp to get more air. Or when we sob, we gasp naturally. There is another situation
we seldom think of but is very critical for survival of a newborn baby. The newborn baby’s first
breath draws air into the lungs, relying on this gasp type of breathing.
 Sigh: When we feel upset or relieved we naturally sigh. For newborn babies, they will sigh for a
few days at the beginning of their life.
 Suck: This type is like sucking liquid through a straw. So it is also called Straw breath.
When energy is stuck, either because of physical or emotional reasons, this Prāṇāyāma helps to
release and relieve; also helps to regain vitality.
Yoga Sūtra (2.49) tells us that “Prāṇāyāma is the conscious, deliberate regulation of the breath
replacing unconscious patterns of breathing. It is possible only after a reasonable mastery of āsana
practice”. As this way is not normal breathing, it will let us be more conscious of our breathing.
Here we adopt it in meditation:

 Sit comfortably.
 Focus on breathing. Listen to the sound of your own breathing.
 Breathe out with open mouth and listen to the sound “Haṃ”. Then breathe in through nose,
listen to the sound “sā”.
 Listen to the sound Haṃsā continually. “I am that”, what is “that”?
 Continue for as long as you are comfortable.

Self-inquiry for haṃsā meditation: Who am I? Am I pure energy or do I have a physical body with a
soul within? Can I let the soul stay alone?

Āsana practice:
 Anantāsana (Sleeping Viṣṇu Pose)
Ananta is a name of Viṣṇu, the Lord of Preserver, and also of Viṣṇu’s couch, the serpent Śeṣa.
 Haṃsāsana (Sleeping Swan Pose)
Haṃsa means swan, the soul or spirit.
 Makarāsana (Crocodile Pose)
Makara is a kind of sea monster, sometimes confounded with the crocodile, shark, and
dolphin.
The subject of Samādhi is the last chapter of Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā and the first chapter of Yoga Sūtra
of Patañjali. Trance is only a glimpse of ultimate reality. Keep working! Bring the mind back. Let the
mind and consciousness together serve the soul at the physical body level in order to see the whole
picture.

2.7 Transcendental Waking State and Conjunction (saṃyama)


The Self manifests both body and soul. The mind perceives information from the physical body and
absorbs and records signals from the soul. The mind is connected with the body and soul through
34 A Complete Yoga Manual

consciousness; the body is the vehicle, and the soul is the core. They all have their special value for the
Self. When all these four parts separately work together in harmony, then the Self is like an excellent
vehicle with four wheels. In the never ending flow of time the Self is able to use this vehicle on the
road of Self-realization towards a happy, wholesome and holistic life.

Prāṇāyāma Practice: Sama Vṛtti Prāṇāyāma (Even Breath)


Sama means the same or equally, entire, whole and complete. Vṛtti means action, movement,
maintenance, function or operation. In Sama Vṛtti, we try to breathe in and breathe out for the
same duration.

 Sit comfortably, breathe in and out naturally.


 Focus on breathing, inhale and count slowly to 4, naturally pause.
 Exhale and count slow to 4, naturally pause.
 Repeat as long as you are comfortable.

The soul and physical body depend on each other for existence and exist independently. In the
transcendental waking state the Self is aware of both the activities of the body and soul. The mind is
pure and sharp. Saṃ means “together”, yama translates as “curbing, discipline”. To experience
Saṃyama12 (conjunction), mantra meditation is the best way. By approaching meditation in this
manner, the practitioner is able to stay aware and receptive to what is being experienced. The most
suitable mantra is the Maha Mantra (Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra), which means “great mantra”. This rhythmic
mantra is easy to remember and recite. It contains three syllables -- Hare, Rāma and Kṛṣṇa.
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare
Hare addresses both Hari and Hara. Hari means the sun, the moon, a ray of light which represents
spiritual knowledge. Hara means receiving, obtaining.
Rāma, the main character in the Hindu epic Rāmāyaṇa, is the embodiment of Dharma -- duty, virtue,
morality, and religion.
Kṛṣṇa is the original philosopher, the master of knowledge and wisdom. The celebrated epic
Mahābhārata has recorded his story, which includes the Bhagavad-Gītā. Kṛṣṇa’s teachings in the
Bhagavad-Gītā on the battle field of Kurukṣetra13 has inspired and influenced the spiritual practice of
millions of people.
This mantra is recommended as it directs us to the way towards joy and happiness through wisdom
and performing daily duties. In this state, the individual Self is able to conjunct with supreme
consciousness, resonate with the Divine and flow with the rhythm of nature. To achieve this state one
needs a spiritual master as a guide.
Āsana practice:
 Viparīta Karani (Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose, Inverted Pose)
Viparīta means turned around, reversed, inverted. Karani means doing, making; action.
 Pārśva Balāsana (Thread the Needle Pose, Revolved Child's Pose)
Pārśva means side or flank. Bala means force, strength.
 Sūcirandhrāsana (Eye of Needle Pose)
Sūci means a needle. Randhra means opening, a hole.

2.8 Vegetative State and Enlightenment


In a vegetative state a breathing machine only can maintain the basic function of the physical body.
But what can actually wake up this Individual being to life? It’s the continuously loving call from
Sāṃkhya Yoga and Meditation 35

another person, the one with true love. When the person in a vegetative state and the person calling
have a strong love bond, and both of them have strong wills to see each other again, then magic can
occur. Consciousness comes back. It is a two-way street even if it looks like only one side is calling.
The relationship between the Self and the Divine is similar. We cannot see the Divine, but the Divine is
answering even when we cannot see the feedback right away. What we need is the determination and
love. If we have determination and love, the invisible Divine will reveal to us in a human being form
and we can see the Divine with our own eyes. This is liberation (mokṣa). The Self is completely free
even if associated with the physical body. Any activities that are done by the material body can not
affect the Self anymore. The Yoga Sūtra (4.34) says:
“When the highest purpose of life is achieved the three basic qualities do not excite responses in the
mind. That is freedom. In other words, the Perceiver is no longer coloured by the mind.”
The happy ending of the conquest of death and waking up from a vegetative state is only the
beginning of new life. The liberation is the beginning of living spiritually in the phenomenon world.
After reaching the summit of a mountain, are we going to stay on top of the mountain or we will go
back home? Orienting the Self to place and time can be difficult after liberation. Where are we living?
Do we have full awareness of the world around us? How to maintain the day to day life? Only if we are
able to go back home and able to perform daily duties, this is enlightenment.
Āsana practice:
 Adho Mukha Vṛkṣāsana (Handstand Pose, Downward Facing Tree Pose)
Adho Mukha means face downward, Vṛkṣa means a tree. This pose requires the whole body to
be balanced and in harmony.
 Viparita Vīrabhadrāsana (Reverse Warrior)
Viparita means reverse, inverted, upside down, contrary; Vīrabhadra is the name of a powerful
warrior who comes out of Lord Śiva’s hair. Śiva is the original Yogī.
 Cakravākāsana (Ruddy Goose)
Cakravāka is name of a bird. This is a combination of Cow pose and Child pose.

Prāṇāyāma Practice: Anuloma Viloma Prāṇāyāma (Alternate Nostril Breathing) 14


Anuloma means “in a natural direction, in order”. Viloma means “turned in the opposite direction,
inverted”. After mastering Nadi Cleansing Breath, Breath Retention and Even Breath, we can
combine all three techniques together for Alternate Nostril Breathing to balance the energy in the
Nāḍīs.
Iḍā Nāḍī corresponds to the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and Piṅgalā Nāḍī corresponds to the
parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS and PNS functions are opposite but
complementary in nature. They form the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which is responsible for
involuntary functions of our body, and controls the inside environment of the body.
 Sit comfortably, press the right nostril with right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril and
count to 4. Hold the breath for a count of 4. Press the left nostril gently with the Ring finger
(and Little finger). Exhale through the right nostril and count to 4. Pause naturally.
 Inhale through the right nostril and count to 4. Hold the breath for a count of 4. Then
exhale through the left nostril and count to 4. Pause naturally.
 Repeat as long as you are comfortable.
36 A Complete Yoga Manual

3. Meditation and the Modes of Nature (Guṇas)


To know how to swim we need to jump into the water. Depending on our capability we can choose to
go swimming in a pool, at a lake, in a river or in the ocean. Of course, at different places we will have
different experiences. But no matter where we are, we need to go into the water. We know that the
more we are in the water, the more we know what to do and how to play in the water. With practice,
we will be able to enjoy all the activities in the water instead of worrying about drowning. To
practically experience the relationship between the body and soul we need to have a sharp and clear
mind. This can be attained by practicing meditation.
The flow of thoughts are like a river. Practicing meditation is like sitting on the bank of the river,
observing the flow of the water that comes and goes, but not being affected by the water. Sometimes
we see big waves, sometimes we see through the water; sometimes we see leaves floating on top of
the water. No matter what we see, we just keep observing, not trying to change anything, not trying to
stop anything. Gradually, we will be able to not be pulled by the thoughts and not agitated by the
change of the thoughts. The repetition of meditation helps to sharpen the mind so we can see more
clearly. At the same time, meditation helps expand the capacity of the brain so we can receive more
information without being overwhelmed. The process can be hard and long but the reward is
extraordinary -- we are able to stay calm in any situation in our life with the power of mind. Anyone
can practice this alone.

Meditation Practice: So’ham - Haṃsā - So’ham / Who am I?


From so’ham to haṃsā, “I am that”. What is “that”? Who am I? Between inhales is exhale, how
about between lives? What will happen after we die?
Energy permeates the whole universe. It also exists eternally. Energy cannot be created or
destroyed, but it can change from one form to another. “I” exists in the temporary physical body,
and “I” also exists in the permanent spirit body. When the physical body dissolves, the invisible
spirit body still exists, but the form cannot be seen. “That” remains the same. We have an
everlasting soul. Since soul is unchangeable, the value as a human being is to utilize the temporary
physical body to realize our permanent identity and re-establish the relationship with the Divine,
which is the source of everything.

During meditation everyone has different experiences. This is because of being under the influence of
the modes of nature. When Sattva is dominant, the mind is clear and illuminated. The practitioner is
alert and able to describe what is happening, and experiences calm, peacefulness and tranquility.
When Rajas is dominant, the mind is very active; with a lot of thoughts. The practitioner might feel
stressed, exhausted and not want to stay still. They prefer moving and acting. Meditation can be
painful for people in Rajas. When Tamas is dominant, the mind is dull and slow. The practitioner will
want to sleep, and the mind seems to be not thinking of anything; actually, the practitioner cannot
recognize the activities of the mind. The mode which appears most often in a regular based
meditation practice is our dominant mode of nature. For the one who is in Nirguṇa, they always
absorb the activities from nature and experience ecstasy.
Meditation normally is in sitting position. As we know, Āsana originally means sitting down, to sit
down. Now it is known as postures which focus more on the physical body. The aim of meditation and
āsana practice is to improve our flexibility, strength, balance and vitality on both the physical and
mental level, and through awareness to recognize the pulse of the mind and at last recognize our true
nature. With practice we can transfer the experience to daily life to deal with the challenges in our life
by holding the meditation object tight.
Sāṃkhya Yoga and Meditation 37

Āsana practice:
 Pāśāsana (Rope Pose, Noose Pose, Owl Pose)
Pāśa means rope, noose or cord.
 Adhomukha Vīrāsana (Downward Facing Hero Pose, Wide Knee Child Pose, Polar Bear)
Adhomukha means facing down, Vīra means hero, warrior.
 Baddha Padmāsana (Bound Lotus Pose)
Baddha means bound or caught, Padma means lotus.
 Yoga Mudrā (Yoga Sealing)
Yoga means union, Mudrā means seal, a seal-ring.

To have a powerful and sharp mind to see clearly is not the goal of meditation as we cannot
distinguish the difference between imagination and vision; cannot identify if the image we see during
meditation is from the mind or from soul activity. To have a powerful mind is a must preparation to
explore the spiritual world, but not enough to deal with death because when we die, the mind is
absent and we have to face the vast unknown world as we face the immense ocean. How can we face
death? The purpose of meditation is to purify our own Self and cultivate consciousness. So, when the
mind is absent, the imprint of reaction in consciousness can help. To experience the mysterious soul
activities, like climbing a Himālaya mountain, we need to know what we can do and what we cannot
do, with guidance from a Self-realized spiritual master. A proper attitude should be formed by
practicing Karma Yoga.
38 A Complete Yoga Manual

Part 4

Karma Yoga and Yoga Life Attitude

1. Karma Yoga
Human beings believe they are superior to other animals. This superiority should mean that human
beings should take more responsibility instead of having privilege; the responsibilities of taking care of
the Self, protecting the environment and the rights of animals. Consciously taking responsibility and
acting accordingly is practicing Karma Yoga. Nowadays, Karma Yoga is known as selfless service and
volunteer work is regarded as Karma Yoga.
Karma means doing work, action. Living in the world, everyone has to do something: to learn, to work,
to play, to raise a family, and so on. And all actions are followed by reactions. For example, suppose I
am very nice and always help others. When I need help, if I get the help from others, then I enjoy the
action (Karma). But, if I smoke a lot and then get lung cancer, then I suffer in the Karma. Similarly, in
every part of our life we either enjoy or suffer from results of our work. This is called Karma. The effect
is due to the cause we have done. Sometimes we can see this effect at once, sometimes it takes a longer
time to show and we already have forgotten the cause. For instance, when we buy a flower, we can take
the flower home at once, or when we casually throw a seed to the soil and we forget about it, then
some day in the future we are surprised to see a plant come up from the ground.
If we understand the law of Karma, we know that everything that happens has its reason. The cause is
what we have done before, either in this life or in a previous life. Remember, we are suffering because
of what we have done. Then, when miserable things happen, we shouldn’t complain that God allowed
these things to happen. We shouldn’t blame anyone. It’s just the Law of Karma.
But Karma can change. The lifestyle we choose frames the Karma we produce. The lifestyle we choose
leads to a different quality of life. To have the ability to choose, we need to cultivate human
consciousness. We tend to live by force of habit. We need to know what sort of activity we should adopt
to gain relief from actions and reactions. The Yoga lifestyle is a disciplined life; we act with discipline and
control, not through force of habit, but through human consciousness.
Most of time we expect good deeds lead to good Karma. We should not use our own understanding of
“good” or “bad” and take for granted what we are doing is “good”. We should know the universal
standard. The basic guides of Karma Yoga are Yama and Niyama. They are also the first two limbs of
Yoga. Yama and Niyama are like two feet of the human being; without balance and solid support from
the feet, the body will not develop properly. Yoga practice without practicing Yama and Niyama cannot
support the Self and holistic growth.
Karma Yoga and Yoga Life Attitude 39

2. Yama and Niyama


Yama means “self-control, any great moral rule or duty”. Yama is understood as attitudes toward the
environment and rules of conduct, which help to subdue the senses and maintain our human
consciousness. Yama is also the name of the Lord of Death. When the principle of Yama is not followed,
the human consciousness is lost.
1) Ahiṁsā means nonviolence. A vegetarian diet usually is part of the practice of ahiṁsā as obviously
we will hurt other living beings when we eat meat. Also, don’t forget family nonviolence, including
physical, sexual, emotional, financial abuse and neglect.
2) Satya is truthfulness. When we are searching for Absolute truth, we should know, only through
truthfulness we can obtain the truth. This requires us to be true to ourselves and others, both in
actions and expressions. If we know speaking the truth will cause hurt, then we just keep quiet.
3) Asteya means refraining from theft. From a broader perspective, nothing belongs to us; we are just
consumers of resources. Everyone who accumulates more than they need is a thief. In the immense
universe, as far as we know, the Earth is the only planet that is suitable for human beings to live. For
human beings, the Earth is the centre. As an everlasting being, what can we do to make it possible
to live on the Earth forever? When we promote consuming more than we need, we are actually
stealing from the generations to come. Thus, a simple life is the best way to practice asteya.
4) Brahmacarya: the root car means “to move one’s self, walk”; brahma means “the one self- existent
spirit, the Absolute”. Brahmacarya means “study of the sacred knowledge, a state of continence and
chastity”. For our daily life, this means the study of spiritual knowledge.
5) Aparigraha means one should not expect something from others. Applied to our life, we could offer
help or service, but we cannot expect in exchange, money, special relationships, fame or even
respect from others. We just do what we need to do.

Niyama means “restraining, holding back, preventing, controlling”. Nowadays, they are understood as
observances and principles toward our self. They give us fundamental understanding of values, attitudes,
rules and regulations. They are the basic guides of how to live.
1) Śauca means cleanliness, purity. It not only refers to physical cleanliness, but purity of thought as
well. When we purify our body, speech and mind, we then are able to have a clear understanding of
the Self. Fasting and meditation can be part of the practice of Śauca. Using a Neti pot is an effective
way to clear the sinuses. Neti is an internal cleansing technique for the purification of the nasal
passages of the respiratory system.
2) Saṃtoṣa: saṃ means “together, along with”; toṣa means “contentment, joy”. Saṃtoṣa means
“satisfaction, contentedness with”. To be able to achieve something can give us satisfaction.
Anything that is too easy to attain won’t lead to contentment. Instead, we might feel bored or not
pay attention to it. The feeling of contentment is like planting; after a lot of hard work we taste the
fruit of the harvest season and we are satisfied. Also, Saṃtoṣa happens when we are able to share
with others: share our achievements, our feelings, or even our wealth. All achievements mean
nothing when there is no one to share them with.
3) Tapas means heat, pain, suffering and understood as austerity or penance. When we voluntarily
accept bodily inconvenience, accept principles and regulations to understanding Absolute Truth even
when we have to suffer, we are practicing tapas. Human beings are different from animals. Human
beings are able to make conscious decisions, and take all the responsibility and results of Self
activities.
40 A Complete Yoga Manual

4) Svādhyāya means the study of what relates to the Self. We need to choose a lifestyle through
wisdom. This wisdom is acquired through Self study and reflects intelligence in daily life. A deeper
understanding of the Self can be obtained by study under the guidance of a spiritual master.
5) Īśhvarapraṇidhānā: Īśhvara means “the Supreme Being, God”; praṇidhānā means “laying on, fixing,
applying”. Īśhvarapraṇidhānā means to “lay the results of activities at the feet of God”. What we do
is only to perform duties -- either duties we like or don’t like. This is a very important attitude for
Yoga practitioners as for most of the time there is no acknowledgment even when we work hard.
The Bhagavad-gītā (2.48) says:
“Engage in active duties and abandon the results of success or failure. This equanimity is called Yoga.”

3. Duty and Freedom


All living beings have duties to perform. The duties of a new born baby are to sleep and eat; the duties
of a student are to study and learn; the duties of parents are to take care of the children and raise the
family; the duty of a senior is to understand death. At different stages a human being has different
primary duties to perform. At the same time, the duties of a monk and a householder are not the same.
We should not blindly follow others ways to perform duties.
Most of us don’t like duties. Not many students like to study. We wish to be able to make lots of money
without working hard, and when we are getting old we don’t want to face the fact that death is near.
We take supplements, drugs, and have operations to extent existence instead of learning about death.
We are hoping that our only duty is to enjoy without working and forget there is no free lunch. Sooner
or later we have to pay the price because of the Law of Karma. And the Law of Karma, like the Law of
Gravity, works on everyone.
Stay in a comfortable cage or fly in the sky, what will we choose? Are we ready to be free? Do we have
the ability to live freely without performing duties and accept the results of the freedom? No one can
give freedom; it is our SELF that at last emancipates the self, as long as we accept the results.
Living in the material world no one can stop acting. Only the dead are free from action (Karma). Since
we cannot avoid acting, if we can perform duties by following the basic principles of Yama and Niyama
and act consciously, then we are practicing Karma Yoga. It can purify the body, mind, spirit and develop
human consciousness. At last, it will lead us to not being affected by the action (Karma) which is
complete freedom.
When we perform our duties with the intention to be beneficial for both the Self and other living beings
around us from a long term point of view; when our actions enable us to be in tune with nature, not by
the cost of sacrifice to the environment; when we transcend the modes of nature, knowing that sad or
happy emotions arise because of the modes of nature; when we are acting in transcendental human
consciousness and offer all the results of the activities to the Supreme controller, then the Self is not
affected by Karma. This is the perfection of Karma Yoga. No one is able to be perfect, but we can always
work towards perfection and should keep in mind why we practice Yoga and what is the ultimate goal
of Yoga. The Yoga Sūtra (2.1) says:
“The practice of Yoga must reduce both physical and mental impurities. It must develop our capacity for
self-examination and help us to understand that, in the final analysis, we are not the masters of
everything we do.”
Yama and Niyama can regulate our behaviour, but cannot regulate our soul. The soul dwells in the heart
and can be bound only by love. There is a simple way to reveal our divinity and connect with the Divine
-- through Love -- Bhakti Yoga.
Bhakti Yoga and Nāda 41

Part 5

Bhakti Yoga and Nāda

1. Bhakti Yoga
Different forms of Yoga work on different fragments of the Self; some forms emphasize the body,
some emphasize the mind and consciousness, and Bhakti Yoga directly works on the soul which is
located in the heart. Service to the Divine Presence is called Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti means “trust, faith,
love or devotion”. Bhakti Yoga can lead us to fostering love of Divine Presence, and at last obtain
transcendent truth. Bhakti Yoga is a special form of Yoga as it doesn’t have the modern concept of
posture practice and is a form of Yoga for everyone.
Each soul has a relationship with the Divine. The five main states of relationship are as follows:
1) Neutral: Acknowledge there is a higher force. Regard the Divine as universal energy. As Laozi
describes about the Tao.
2) Master-servant: Regard the Divine as Supreme Master and self as a servant. As Muhammad
plays the role as God’s messenger.
3) Friend: We can treat the Divine as a friend with emphasis on equality. As Buddha teaches us at
the soul level that we have the same quality.
4) Parent-child: Regard the Divine as parent. Jesus Christ is the perfect example as God’s son, or
regard the Divine as a child, as Yaśodā to little Kṛṣṇa.
5) Lover: Regard the Divine as a lover. As Sītā to Rāma, Shakti to Śiva.
No matter what state one is in, the practice of Bhakti Yoga is to cultivate the relationship between the
Self and the Divine through devotional service. Practitioners can serve all living beings, friends, parents,
children or intimate partners with devotion as they are the manifestation of the Divine. This practice
makes it easy to access the Divine in our daily lives, and we don’t have to go to a special place to
separate Self-realization from daily life. After all, to reach Self-realization we don’t necessarily have to
go live in the forest or a cave. Bhakti Yoga is a simple and sweet way to live in society and connect,
communicate with the Divine at the same time.
Bhakti Yoga practitioners should be careful not to be trapped in emotion and gradually become a blind
follower. Always remember to follow the basic principles of Yama and Niyama and act consciously.
Devotional service is only the beginning of a journey in the heart space. This journey is not a road
covered with flowers, but full of thorns. Bhakti Yoga is based on profound and delicate philosophy.
Without practical life experience one cannot understand the essence of Bhakti Yoga. A sentimental
person who lives in an ivory tower will kill their soul.
42 A Complete Yoga Manual

Āsana practice:
 Breath of Joy
 Eagle arms (Garuḍāsana)
Practice Eagle Pose on a chair to only exercise the upper body.
 Standing Yoga Mudra (Yoga Mudrā)
 Seated Sun Salutation (Paramahaṁsāsana)

Breathing Exercise: Breath of Joy


Most breathing exercise is done while sitting. This breathing technique combines with body
movement. It normally is regarded as an Āsana. Inhale three times vigorously and then exhale with
a forward bend. This rhythmic breathing will give us energy and joy!

 In standing position, relax.


 Inhale, extend arms in front of you.
 Inhale, extend arms to the side.
 Inhale, extend arms up over head.
 Exhale, bend forward and make the sound “ha”.
 Repeat, enjoy!

2. Āuṁ
The Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā (4.29) says:
“Mind is the master of the senses, and the air (as transmitter) is the master of the mind. The
transmitter (air) in its turn is subordinate to the one who absorbs, and that absorption depends on
nāda”.

Meditation Practice: Chanting OM (āuṁ)


In actual chanting the ā sound and u sound combine together to become the O sound. This is why
normally we chant the sound āuṁ as OM.
When chanting in a group, everyone can make the sound while exhaling. As our breathing rhythms
are different, the OM sound will be like the non-stop waves of the ocean.

Nāda means a loud sound; any sound or tone. Nāda is the most important aspect in Yoga practice.
Ancient sages found that energy in the form of sound vibration can be used to adjust and restore the
energy in the body. Sound vibration can be used to experience the Supreme transcendent truth. The
understanding of the sound āuṁ from ancient sages matches modern science theory very well. For
Yogis, the vibration of the sound āuṁ includes four parts: A, U, M and silence. 15
Bhakti Yoga and Nāda 43

 A: represents waking state, heightened mental activity.


 U: represents dream state, mild relaxation.
 M: represents dreamless sleep state, deep relaxation.
 Silence: represents transcendental state, awareness of the body is absent.
From a modern science point of view brain waves have four main forms; the slower the brain waves,
the more we feel relaxed and peaceful.16
 Beta waves have the fastest frequency and are present most when one is awake during daily
activities.
 Alpha waves have a medium frequency and can happen when we are in a nice daydream or during
light meditation.
 Theta waves have a slow frequency and can be present during deep relaxation and meditation.
 Delta waves have the slowest frequency and when present, there is loss of physical body
awareness.
When we look at the relationship of āuṁ and the brainwaves, we are surprised to see the ancient
wisdom. If we can make a slower wave sound, then we can experience relaxation and peace. By
chanting āuṁ, the resonation of the sound lets our brain waves tap into the right frequency. Our Self
will be in harmony with the energy around us and lead us to tranquility.

3. Toning and Bīja Mantras


Toning is the best way to begin understanding sound vibration. Through sound resonance, energy in
the Chakras can be stimulated and balanced. For people who are familiar with music tones, they can
tone the first Chakra with their lowest tone, then gradually use higher tones when proceeding to
higher Chakras. At the eighth Chakra -- aura, with a high tone, overtones can be produced. Vocal
overtones have the power of healing.

Meditation Practice: Toning the Chakras


Sound Element Corresponding Body Part Corresponding Chakra
EE False ego aura 8 Brahmaguhā
E Intelligence crown of head, hair 7 Sahasrāra
AYE Mind third eye, between eyebrows 6 Ājñā
EYE Ether throat 5 Viśuddhi
AH Air heart, lungs 4 Anāhata
OH Fire solar plexus, navel 3 Maṇipūra
OOO Water sacral, between navel and groin 2 Svādhiṣṭhāna
UH Earth base of spine, pelvic 1 Mūlādhāra

We can also chant bīja mantras which can help us recognize sound vibration and use the voice to
express ourself.
44 A Complete Yoga Manual

Meditation Practice: Bīja Mantras for the Eight Chakras


Bīja means seed or germ. Say the Bīja word five times with each exhale. When you finish one
Chakra, sit quietly for a while before you go to the next Chakra; let the vibratory sensations
surround you.
 Sit comfortably. Allow your breathing to happen smoothly and naturally.
 Bring your awareness to the spine. Visualize the whole spine is like a hollow tube; the
energy inside is flowing freely.
 Be aware of your sit bones; feel being supported by the ground, just like earth always
supports us. Focus on the base of the spine; say the word Laṁ.
 Drawing your awareness to your lower abdomen. Visualize water, soft flowing water. Let
yourself be soft, ready to be held; say the word Vaṁ.
 Bring your awareness to the navel area; visualize fire, hot fire, flames dancing, dancing up
to the source of energy; say the word Raṁ.
 Be aware of your heart, your lungs. With each breath, feel the air going into your body
when you breathe in; feel the air leaving your body when you breathe out. Know that air
cannot be seen, but is everywhere. Say the word Yaṁ.
 Notice your throat. Visualize the vast space, the sky. Space that seems empty, but full of
vibrations. Vibrations from living beings voices, instruments of resonance and the voice of
the heart -- the inner voice. Let your voice come out deep from the heart and then express
through the throat. Say the word Haṁ.
 Focus on your “third eye”, the space between the eyebrows. Allow the voice of your Self
and the sound that you hear to be combined in the heart. Whisper the sound āuṁ.
 Bring your awareness to the top of your head. Listen to the Silence. The sound of the
universe. What do you hear?
 Be aware of your surroundings and know that you are being protected by Divine Light. Let
the body be the instrument to express the Self. Chant OM.

Practicing poses with bīja mantras will give us a different experience.


Āsana practice:
 Kneeling Sun Salutation with bīja mantras
 Swan Dive and Seated Sun Salutation with bīja mantras

4. Chant Together (Kīrtana)


To understand Bhakti Yoga one needs extensive knowledge, but knowledge is not a must to practice
Bhakti Yoga. A main form of practice with others is through Kīrtana. Kīrtana means “mentioning,
repeating, saying, telling”. It uses sound vibration to glorify and describe the Absolute Truth.
Anyone who is willing to share the love of the Divine and is willing to communicate by the heart can
practice Bhakti Yoga together. Through Bhakti Yoga, the formless spirit can be seen, the heart-
touching love can be felt, and the omnipresent Supreme God can be revealed in our own eyes. We will
recognize that we are not a moving machine. We are a human being that has a soul in the heart. We
are part of the Divine. What we need to do is participate, either sing along or listen quietly to the
chanting. This is the way to connect with the Divine and gradually foster love of Divine Presence.
Bhakti Yoga and Nāda 45

Meditation Practice: Kīrtana


For Kīrtana, at least two people are needed. To attend Kīrtana one doesn’t need to be good at
music. Just join in and make the sound.
4.1 oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya
May divine consciousness be birthed or awakened within me.

4.2 oṃ namaḥ śivāya śivāya namaḥ oṁ


To invoke Lord Śiva, the original Yogī. Śiva was first to teach the science of Haṭha Yoga and is the
Destroyer of Illusion.

4.3 śuklām baradharam viṣṇum śaśi varṇam caturbhujam


prasan navadanam dhyāyet sarva vighno paśāntaye 17
This beautiful and powerful mantra relates to both the All-pervading Viṣṇu and the elephant-head
Lord Gaṇeśa. Gaṇeśa is the remover of obstacles; also the recorder of the Mahābhārata.

4.4 om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ tát savitúr váreṇyaṃ


bhárgo devásya dhīmahi dhíyo yó naḥ prachodayāt
This is the Brahma-Gāyatrī mantra which praises the wise who have brought light to us like the sun
dispelling darkness.

4.5 oṁ āḥ hūṁ vajra guru padma siddhi hūṁ 18


This Vajra Guru mantra invokes the teachers who take us from darkness into light.

4.6 hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare


hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare
Rāma is the embodiment of Dharma -- duty, virtue, morality, religion. Kṛṣṇa is the master of
knowledge and wisdom. Hare refers to the one who has attained transcendental knowledge and is
able to remove obstacles on the spiritual path.

4.7 sītā rām sītā rām sītā rām jaya sītā rām
Sītā and Rāma are recognized as a Divine couple. The story of Rāma and Sītā can be read in
Rāmāyaṇa. Sītā is the embodiment of devotion, loyalty, courage, self-sacrifice and purity. Rāma is
known as an ideal son, ideal lover and ideal ruler.

4.8 he bhagavan he bhagavan jaya guru he bhagavan


jaya guru jaya guru tuma ho mahan sarana aye ham tumhare
“O Divine beloved one, hail to the true teacher, the dispeller of darkness. You are the great one, we
take refuge in you.” 19

4.9 om hari om
A universal mantra that prevents suffering. Hari means “the sun, the moon, a ray of light”, Om is
the universal sound and the seed of spiritual knowledge. This mantra tells us that spiritual
knowledge is like the light that gives us the ability to see so suffering can be prevented.
46 A Complete Yoga Manual

The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain, just above the roof of the palate, and the
hypothalamus is located just above the pituitary. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus together
regulate largely unconscious body functions such as heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, body
temperature, thirst, hunger, papillary response, sexual arousal and other activities of the autonomic
nervous system.
When we chant, the proper combination of vowel and consonant sound vibration stimulates the
pituitary gland and hypothalamus which helps to maintain our overall wellness both short-term and
long term. All these mantras, like OM, are the treasures that are left for us from our ancestors.
Mantras, like āsana practice are not just for Indian people, but for human beings all over the world.
These mantras are for everyone who like to resonate with nature and are looking for happiness and
wellness.20 As Robert Gass says, “We chant to fill our hearts and fill our homes with loving and
peaceful vibrations of sound. We chant to help the stress and franticness of our busy lives melt away.
We chant for the heartful communion that we feel with others when we come together in song.”21
Sound is transmitted through air. Air is the element of the Heart chakra. Nāda is more than the sound
from instruments, music and voice. It is the sound from the heart. To sing a song or play an instrument
without true emotion, like a parrot reciting human words, cannot touch the heart. Only a sound from
the heart can touch another’s heart. Bhakti Yoga works directly on the soul. We need to remember
though where we are living. To visit soul land that is full of love is great, but we cannot survive with
only love and water. To find the balance between the material real world and the spiritual world we
need knowledge about nature of the Self, the cause of nature, the highest purpose of life, and the way
to express the Self. We learn about all these through Jñāna Yoga.
Jñāna Yoga and Acquiring Knowledge 47

Part 6

Jñāna Yoga and Acquiring Knowledge

1. Jñāna Yoga
If we do not know anything about H2O, then it is difficult to explain that different forms of water, such
as, fog, rain, clouds and ice have the same composition. Knowledge is the basis of understanding and
perception. Jñāna means knowledge. The Bhagavad-gītā (13.8-12) tells us:
“Humility, sincerity, nonviolence, patience, honesty, reverence for one’s teacher, cleanliness, steadiness
and self-control; dispassion toward sense objects, freedom from false ego, awareness of the
disadvantage of birth, death, old age and disease; uninvolved with children, spouse and home; always
even-minded in pleasant and unpleasant situations; constantly connected to Me with unwavering
devotion; stays at a solitary place, detached from the general mass of people; persistent in knowing the
Self, and awareness of the goal of philosophical search – all this is called knowledge, the opposite is
ignorance.”
Our ancestors have passed down great spiritual treasures for us. By studying, we can attain knowledge
about the Self, and how to know the Self, our true identity. It often begins with the question “Who am
I”. Reading mythology is an easy way to understand fundamental universal truth. All cultures have their
unique mythology, such as Chinese and Indian legends, and ancient Greek myths. For people who are
fond of philosophy, the Yoga Sūtra and the Bhagavad-gītā are great texts to study.
From nursery school to graduating from university takes more than 15 years. Understanding
transcendent knowledge will take even longer. This Self-realization learning process could be a life-long
process. What learners need to do is to apply what they have learned to daily life; let this knowledge
transform into life wisdom. Obviously each learner will have their different application, but even just a
little bit of understanding will save us from the perplexities of life. When we acquire true transcendent
knowledge, we can make proper decisions for different situations and not be affected by the modes of
nature. Our daily life will never be the same. To learn and study the subject of transcendence through a
living Guru is Jñāna Yoga.

2. Learner and Disciple


As a baby, a child, a youth and an elder will eat different kinds of food, a teacher will give different
guidance to different learners. For the same question, the teacher might give different answers based
on that person’s situation. And some teachings can be totally opposite. Thus, a complex knowledge
system appears to us. We might be bewildered to study immense spiritual texts by ourselves. This is
48 A Complete Yoga Manual

why we need a living Guru to guide us. Hatha Yoga Pradipika (4.8) says: “Knowledge, liberation,
maintenance and understanding can be attained by instructions from a guru alone.”
Guru means “heavy, high in degree, a spiritual parent or preceptor”. A Guru (spiritual master or mentor)
is the person who guides us to the light of knowledge to dispel darkness. A Guru can be present in
human being form living around us like an average person or in their literature work.
People might think that to have a lot of spiritual knowledge they are able to understand the Self. We
should know that knowledge itself is only the foundation. Some people have a lot of knowledge but lack
proper perception. When things happen they will recite sentences from texts or imitate previous
examples from other people. Only a person who knows how to apply knowledge in daily life, has direct
understanding and experience of the Self, and is able to face reality, beyond body, mind, intelligence
and false ego, can actually grasp the essence of true knowledge. This person can be a Guru.
For an athlete to attain achievement they need a coach. The coach doesn’t have to have a better record
than the athlete. Similarly, a Guru doesn’t have to be better than the learners in every aspect. But one
thing is for sure; a qualified Guru is a person who is Self-disciplined and clearly aware that the purpose
of spiritual practice is to understand living and dying. A Guru should be able to use the language we
understand to explain spiritual knowledge and at the same time guide learners to receive ancient
wisdom. Also, we should not check the qualities of a spiritual master through their learners. Just like a
regular school teacher cannot guarantee students attain the knowledge, personal qualities cannot be
copied. We should look at the qualities of the spiritual master directly.
As a Chinese proverb says, “It takes ten years to grow trees but a hundred years to foster people”. A
Guru is like a gardener planting the seed, and the learner is the one who waters the tree of life with
spiritual knowledge. The most important key to receiving and understanding spiritual knowledge is to
dispel preconceived ideas and projections from others. The first step a learner needs to do is to study.

Meditation Practice: Chant the Mantra


Om Hari Om (a universal mantra to help to prevent suffering)

The light of the sun or full moon gives us the ability to see. Hari represents spiritual knowledge which
is like the light. Combined with the universal sound OM, which denotes spiritual knowledge, is like
the light that gives us the ability to see so suffering can be prevented.
 Sit comfortably and listen to the mantra with the heart.
 Recite the mantra in the mind.
 Chant aloud a certain amount of times.
 Repeat these 3 steps.

We cannot choose a Guru simply because the person is famous or has a lot of followers. An average
person is more suitable to be a spiritual master as this person is able to walk through the journey
together personally with us. They also are able to understand our daily life, such as our worries of how
much it will cost to raise a child, our suffering from facing the choice between duty and enjoyment, or
our hesitation in facing the choice of money, power or virtue.
A Guru is a human being, like us, living in the material world and we cannot expect to receive knowledge
for free. The one who realizes the value of spiritual knowledge knows that it is priceless. A genuine Guru
will accept voluntary work (karma yoga) from people who cannot afford the tuition, but won’t give it
for free. Freely giving will nurture the attitude of disrespect for others labour and time and is against
the basic principle of spiritual practice.
Jñāna Yoga and Acquiring Knowledge 49

For the learner, the purpose of following a Guru is to know the Self, and to know the Self we need to
eliminate false ego. When a learner voluntarily listens to the instructions of the Guru and takes action
to serve the Guru, then the learner becomes a disciple and they are able to perceive direct spiritual
knowledge. What the disciple can receive depends on their attitude towards the Guru. One will receive
theory from books only if they have any doubts about the Guru. But, it doesn’t mean a disciple just
blindly obeys. The relationship can be maintained when both disciple and Guru are clear about the
purpose of spiritual practice.

The story of Kūrma (turtle) from an Indian legend related to maintenance.

Between demigods and demons there is always ongoing battle. Sometimes demigods are in the
dominant position; sometimes demons occupy the dominant position. On one occasion the
demigods suddenly lose their strength due to a curse by a short-tempered sage. The Earth will be
destroyed if the situation continues the same.

The demigods approach Viṣṇu, the god of Perserver, for help. Viṣṇu then asks them to churn the
ocean of milk to get the nectar of immortality. The demigods will revive their strength after drinking
the nectar. The mountain Mandara can be used as the churning stick and the serpent Vāsuki as the
churning rope to coil around the mountain. Viṣṇu requests the demigods to ask help of demons and
work together in exchange for a share of the nectar. With great endeavour, demigods and demons
begin pulling the snake in both directions, but during the churning the mountain sinks into the ocean.
Lord Viṣṇu takes the form of the turtle Kūrma and holds the mountain on his back so the churning
can continue. Then the nectar of immortality comes out as promised.

Everyone has a dark side that is hidden deep in the Self that most of the time we don’t realize exists.
Cultivating Sattva nature can help us prevent the dark side developing. Otherwise it will come out when
we are under pressure or stressed. When it grows it will be like a tumor in our body; to eliminate is
painful like an operation. The ability to see our dark side can prevent its growth.

3. Spiritual Master and Disciple


Traditional Yoga stresses transforming spiritual knowledge in a transcendental way between a Guru and
disciple. A Guru is like a translator helping to deliver messages from a disciple’s soul when they cannot
absorb the signals themselves. This requires a Guru to have profound knowledge and a delicate mind.
The Guru should guide the disciple to listen to their own heart and at the same time listen to the Guru’s
instruction. Words might be misunderstood, but then is the chance for the disciple to ask questions and
clarify the doubt. With a two way communication, understanding and trust will build. The Guru is only
a messenger and should not involve in a disciple’s private life.
A real spiritual master won’t accept a lot of disciples at one time as they know the teaching needs time,
love, energy and patience, and it is important to know that the study is not a personal worship. The
spiritual master provides a place for the Self to start the journey in the heart space. The disciple is the
one who walks along the road.
Too many people talk about the theories of Yoga, but the wisdom of Yoga is seldom present in their
own lives22. A Guru is a living example of Yoga life attitude. They are the embodiment of virtues. They
teach us knowledge so we have the ability to distinguish between reality and illusion. They guide us to
find out our own value as a human being. They use their own action to guide us to walk on the proper
path. When the disciple is sincerely searching for true knowledge and listens to the guidance from the
Guru, wisdom will appear in the heart of the disciple and dispel the darkness along the way.
50 A Complete Yoga Manual

Yoga is a spiritual practice and a science of Self-realization. The roots of Yoga are true knowledge. A
Guru knows the priority duty as a mentor is to teach spiritual knowledge. Their wish is to let true
knowledge be known. Some disciples regard the Guru as Supreme Controller, like God. For the Guru this
is the biggest challenge. No matter how well they understand spiritual knowledge, a spiritual master is
a human being. All humans have weaknesses. Just as a knife can’t cut itself, an eye doctor can’t cure
their own eyes. When a Guru is regarded as God and have a lot of followers, as time goes by the spiritual
master will be trapped in the role of God and will regard themselves as God. This makes some spiritual
masters lose their Self and fall to the darkness even if they have dispelled the darkness for others. No
one knows what we might do if put in the same situation. We should always keep in mind that spiritual
practice is to know our own Self, not to judge other people’s activities. Learn the lesson from history
and try to avoid committing the same error.
The Yoga Sūtra (2.6) says “False identity results when we regard mental activity as the very source of
perception.” Both disciple and Guru should be clear that the Guru is only the witness of the spiritual
activities. Disciples are the actors and should take responsibility for all their activities.
As in a big river, where the waves behind push those in-front ahead, a new generation should excel the
former one. The best way for a spiritual master to keep alert is to learn from the disciple and regard
the disciple as the Guru. Allow the disciple to be the driving force. In this way, the teaching process
becomes a learning process to maintain the vitality of spirit. The disciple should have the strength and
courage to surpass the Guru and let the torchlight of knowledge be passed on.
Āsana practice:
 Parivṛtta Utkaṭāsana (Twisting Chair Pose, Revolved Chair Pose)
Parivṛtta means revolved, turned around or back. Utkaṭa means powerful, fierce, uneven.
 Marīchyāsana (Marīchi’s Pose)
Marīchi means a ray of light (of the sun or moon). Sage Marīchi is the son of Creator Brahmā.
 Parivṛtta Ardha Chandrāsana (Revolved Half Moon Pose)
Parivṛtta means revolved, turned around or back. Ardha means half. Chandra is the moon.
 Supta Matsyendrāsana (Supine Spinal Twist Pose)
Supta means lain down to sleep. Matsya means a fish. Indra is the name of God of the Sky. A
fish hears the dialogues between Lord Śiva and his consort Pārvatī about the secrets of Yoga
and becomes Matsyendra (Lord of the Fishes). Matsyendra is one of the founders of Haṭha Yoga.
Some disciples will feel strong love for the Guru without any reason. This is a projection of the individual
soul relationship which has tied two people together for many life times. Krishna Das, in his song “By
your grace”, 23 describes the Guru and disciple relationship which can help us to understand the essence
of spiritual practice.
Closer than breath, you are the air
Sweeter than life itself, you are here
I am the wanderer, you are my peace
I am a prisoner, you are release
Jai Gurudev…
I am a pilgrim, your road so long
I am the singer, you are the song
Held in the open sky, so far above
I am the lover, you are the love
Jai Gurudev…
I follow your footsteps through the flame
All that I ever need is in your name
Carry your heart in mine, vast as space
Jñāna Yoga and Acquiring Knowledge 51

All that I am today is by your grace


By your grace
I live by your grace

Jñāna Yoga gives us opportunity to acquire spiritual knowledge and thus to understand the Self. This
process requires the synergy between the nervous systems.

Central Nervous System (CNS) 24


The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord. It coordinates the functions of the
Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). Meditation helps to stimulate the CNS,
Suṣumṇā Nāḍī and the 7th and 8th chakras. Also, enhances creativity and
improves memory, and allows us to have clearer thinking and prevent the brain
from aging or dementia.

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)


The ANS has two branches: the sympathetic and parasympathetic. The practice
of prāṇāyāma helps to stimulate the ANS, Iḍā and Piṅgalā Nāḍīs, as well as
chakras from 4th to 6th. Also, improves energy circulation, energizes the brain,
and helps connect left and right sides of the body, helping us to reduce stress,
and have better relationships.

Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)


PNS is divided into the voluntary nervous system (VNS) and ANS. The VNS
controls physical body movement. The ANS regulates the internal environment
of the body and subtle body. The practice of āsanas helps to stimulate the PNS
and chakras from 1st to 5th. Also, improves blood circulation, enhances
immunity, connects upper and lower body, and helps to integrate the whole
body.

When we mix all colours of paint we get black; when we mix all colours of light we get white. The process
is the same -- to mix the colours, but the result is opposite. There is a huge gap between theory and
reality. Putting theory into practice needs the ability to act. Āsana and meditation practice together can
help to improve the coordination of the subtle body and physical body and at last harmonize all nervous
systems working together. Traditional Hatha Yoga is a meditation in motion, through movement
awareness to recognize the pulse of the mind, and at last recognize our true nature. It is a form of Yoga
that guides the mind to go inward and develop the strength and courage to face the unknown future.
52 A Complete Yoga Manual

Part 7

Hatha Yoga and Āsanas

1. Modern Hatha Yoga


In modern society, the most common and accepted form of Yoga practice is āsana practice. The practice
begins with the body and is known as Hatha Yoga. Śrīmān Tirumalai Krishnāmachārya and Swami
Sivananda Saraswati, these two figures have had great influence on modern Yoga. They spread Yoga
through their teaching and books. Their students have made Yoga accepted and popular in the western
world. Now different Yoga styles such as Ashtanga Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Viniyoga, Sivananda Yoga and
fitness Yoga are being practiced all over the world.
We can choose the style of Yoga we like to practice. Yoga Sūtra (2.46) says “Āsana must have the dual
qualities of alertness and relaxation.” When we practice āsanas, the four basic principles are:
 Breath
 Balance
 Extension
 Expansion
Balance includes balancing left and right sides of the body, back and front of the body, and the
movement of up and down. For Extension, the focus is on keeping the spine long and for Expansion, the
focus is on keeping the heart open. Of these principles, Breath is the most important. Remember always
to breathe smoothly.
Āsana practice can be a way to take a break from daily life and unwind. The simplest poses can be the
most rewarding if we can focus on breathing. We can close our eyes to enjoy the poses and become
wholly present in the moment and let everything else slip away.
All the poses can be held for 3-8 full cycles of breath unless a different suggestion is specified. Here are
8 groups of poses:
 Standing and Grounding Āsanas
 Backbend and Heart Opening Āsanas
 Twist Āsanas
 Balance and Core Āsanas
 Inversion Āsanas
 Forward Bend and Seated Āsanas
 Set Series (e.g. Sun Salutation)
 Partner Yoga
Hatha Yoga - Standing and Grounding Āsanas 53

We practice an āsana to improve the ability to stay in the āsana with a smooth and deep breath. The
external pose is not what we are concerned with; instead, we focus on the condition of breathing. When
we are able to handle any āsana with smooth breathing, then the āsanas will become naturally perfect
in due time. Among these poses, some of them can be practiced in a Yin way. Yin Yoga is derived from
Tao theory and Yoga. It can be considered as a special form of Hatha Yoga. Yin Yoga poses focus on
pelvis and shoulder areas; use of time and gravity practice mainly targets the connective tissues. Yin
yoga can guide us towards meditation practice.
No matter what form of Yoga we practice, the aim of āsana practice is to improve body flexibility,
strength, balance and vitality, and through movement awareness to recognize the pulse of the mind
and at last recognize our true nature.

2. Standing and Grounding Āsanas


Standing and grounding āsanas are the foundation of further practice. Through these āsanas we can
experience the four principles of breath, balance, extension and expansion.

Tāḍāsana and Samasthiti (Mountain)

Tāḍāsana and Samasthiti (Mountain) are the basic standing poses. The ability to stand upright is one of
the fundamental differences between humans and apes. First we should learn how to stand properly.
The difference between Samasthiti and Tāḍāsana is the arm position.

In Tāḍāsana the arms are In Samasthiti, the arms are


up over the head, with down by the side of the body,
fingers pointing up with fingers pointing down
towards the sky.25 towards the earth.

Guidelines:
1) Stand with feet hip distance apart. Balance the weight of the body evenly on both
feet. Close eyes, if this feels comfortable.
2) Distribute the weight of each foot evenly between the centre of the heel, the ball of 3
the foot and the base of the baby toe. Keep these three spots evenly on the floor (see 2
picture).
3) Hips are above ankles, shoulders are above hips.
4) Focus on the breath; when breathing in, visualize the feet planted deep within the
earth, and when breathing out, visualize the upper torso extending towards the sky. 1

Effects:
People who sit in front of the computer or drive a lot tend to have a sluggish body. Although there are
no noticeable movements in these two basic standing poses, the breath will allow energy to start flowing
and the practitioner’s posture will naturally become more erect without being stiff. This gives the feeling
of security and grounding.
54 A Complete Yoga Manual

Tiryaka Tāḍāsana (Swaying Palm Tree) and


Ardha Chandrāsana (Standing Half Moon)

Both poses are side stretch postures. The difference between Tiryaka Tāḍāsana and Ardha Chandrāsana
is in the hands. In Tiryaka Tāḍāsana the fingers are interlaced, palms face up. In Ardha Chandrāsana the
fingers are interlaced, index fingers pointing up.

Guidelines:
1) Stand in Tāḍāsana. With feet pressed firmly towards the ground and
pelvis stable, keep both sides of the upper torso long.
2) Breathing out, lean the upper body to one side, then breathing in bring
the upper body back to centre, then breathing out again, lean the upper
body to the other side.
3) Repeat, following the breath.
4) Exhale, bring the arms down to stand in Mountain Pose.

Effects:
These two side stretch postures explore the balance of
left and right, the harmony between movement and breathing. These poses also
help to expand the ribcage, allowing more energy to come into the body. At the
same time, they help to relieve stiffness in the shoulders and arms, as well as
improve poise and flexibility.

Catuṣpādapīṭham (Table) to Mārjārāsana and Surabhitanayāsana (Cat and Cow)

Guidelines:
1) Hands and knees are on the floor, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips, like the four
legs of a table. Body weight is distributed evenly on hands and knees.
2) Keep shoulders away from ears and keep the spine neutral. Stay in this pose and focus on
breathing: breathe in and visualize elongating the spine, then breathe out and slightly push the
belly in.
3) From Table Pose, the Cat and Cow Pose is usually the next step. Breathe out and cave in the chest
and arch the spine into Cat. Breathe in and bring the chest forward and the belly towards the ground
into Cow.
4) Follow the breath and repeat the spine movement.

Effects:
These poses relax the shoulders and neck, release back strain, help the spine become suppler and
enhance the function of the nervous system. They also improve digestion and reduce fat around the
waist. These poses are easy to practice, suitable for everyone and are great poses for pregnant women.
Hatha Yoga - Standing and Grounding Āsanas 55

Balāsana (Child) to Cakravākāsana (Ruddy Goose)

Guidelines:
1) Knees on the floor, arms by the sides.
2) Exhale, bend forward and put the forehead on the ground. Allow the body to soften like a beloved
resting baby. This is Child Pose. Arms could be overhead.

3) Child Pose combined with Cow Pose is the Ruddy Goose.


4) Start from Cow Pose. Exhale and bring the pelvis back towards the heels to Child Pose.
5) Follow the breathing rhythm to repeat.

Effects:
Relieves back stress, reducing back pain and the spine becomes more supple.

Vīrabhadrāsana I (Warrior I)

Guidelines:
1) Stand in Mountain Pose. Keep the pelvis facing forward. Step the right foot back and
bend the left knee.
2) Breathe in and bring the arms over the head. Stay in the pose and focus on the
breath: breathing in to expand the ribcage, and breathing out to bring the belly in
slightly towards the spine. Then release the arms and step the right foot forward.
3) Repeat on the other side.

Easing into the Pose: People who have heart concerns or shoulder
and neck issues can bend the elbows into cowboy surrender or
cactus arms. For people who have lower back, knee or SI joint
concerns, don’t step the foot back too far.

Deepen the Pose: For people who have more strength, the stance
can be widened. Fingers laced with the index finger pointing up.

Effects:
This is a great posture for concentration, extending the upper torso
and expanding lung capacity, strengthening the thighs and
extending the hamstrings.
56 A Complete Yoga Manual

Namaskārāsanā (Salutation) to Mālāsana (Garland)

Guidelines:
1) Squat, feet apart. Palms together in front of the chest, use elbows to push legs apart. Breathe in,
visualize elongating the spine. Breathe out, pushing the legs apart with elbows.
2) Extend arms in front towards the floor, head down.
3) From extending the arms (Picture 2) return to the squat position (Picture 1) then release the hands,
or go further into Garland Pose with arms extended, then wrap the legs with arms and hold the heels.

1 2

Easing into the Pose: For people who experience lower back strain or have trouble staying in the pose,
sit on blocks against the wall.

Effects:
This pose massages the belly and the internal organs, opens the hips, helps to improve posture and
strengthens the ankles. The Salutation Pose is a great pose for pregnant women.

Vīrabhadrāsana II (Warrior II)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Samasthiti (Mountain Pose), legs spread wide apart.
2) Externally rotate the left leg, internally rotate the right leg. Breathe out, bending the left knee.
3) Breathe in and raise the arms up. Look over the left hand. Stay in the pose and focus on the breath:
breathing in, extend arms to the sides away from each other, and breathing out, pull the belly in
slightly towards the spine.
4) Breathe in, straighten the left leg, breathe out and bring the arms down. Repeat on the other side.

Easing into the Pose: For people who have shoulder or neck issues, the arms can be lowered to keep
shoulders comfortable. For people who have lower back or knee concerns, shorten the stance or
distance between the feet, and bend the knee less.
Deepen the Pose: For people who have more strength, the stance can be widened.

Effects:
Warrior II is a great pose for concentration, for extension of the upper torso, to expand lung capacity,
to strengthen the thighs and calves and to open the hips.
Hatha Yoga - Standing and Grounding Āsanas 57

Utthita Pārśvakoāsana (Side Angle)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Warrior II Pose. Bend the left knee and raise the arms up.
2) Keep legs stable, breathe out, lean to the left and raise the right arm
overhead to the left. Keep the heart open, stay in the pose and focus on
breathing: breathing in, extend the upper side of the body (right side) from
the foot to the tips of the fingers, then breathing out, visualize both feet
pressing firmly into the ground.
3) Coming out of the pose: breathe in, bring the upper torso back to centre,
breathe out and straighten the left leg.
4) Repeat on the other side.

Variation: Also can raise the upper arm towards


the sky, or put the lower elbow on the front leg.

Easing into the Pose: Shorten the stance. Look


down if the neck or shoulders are tense.

Effects:
Extends the upper torso, improves and expands lung capacity, strengthens the thighs and the calves,
and reduces fat around the waist.

Prasārita Pādottānāsana (Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Samasthiti (Mountain Pose), feet apart and toes forward. Breathe in, arms up overhead.
2) Breathe out, fold forward from hip joints. Place hands on the floor. Stay in the pose and focus on
breathing; breathing in visualize lifting the hips up towards the sky, breathing out pressing feet to
the ground.
3) To come out of the pose: breathe out pressing feet to the ground, then breathe in to bring upper
torso up.

Variation: If shoulders allow, place hands in Prayer at the back and then fold forward instead of arms
up overhead. But make sure this doesn’t strain the shoulders.
Easing into the Pose: For people that have tight hamstrings or experience lower back strain, allow knees
to bend and or put hands on blocks.

Effects:
Extends the entire back side of body, including the hamstrings and the spine, and cleanses the digestive
organs and opens the hip joints. Also supplies more energy to the brain which helps to keep the mind
alert.
58 A Complete Yoga Manual

Utthita Trikoāsana (Extended Triangle)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Samasthiti (Mountain Pose) then legs apart.
2) Externally rotate the left foot, internally rotate the right foot. Keep both legs
straight and the spine long, then lean to the left. Raise the right arm up to the
sky with the left arm reaching down towards the ground. Stay in the pose and
focus on breathing. Breathe in and visualize lengthening the spine and the arms
extending to the sides. Breathe out, slightly pull the belly in towards spine. Keep
the head aligned with the spine.
3) Breathe in and bring the upper torso back to centre.
4) Repeat on the other side.

Deepen the Pose: For people who have more strength, the
stance can be widened and the head turned to look up.

Effects:
Strengthens the legs, reduces fat around the waist, and
improves flexibility and blood circulation.

Pārśvōttānāsana (Pyramid)

Also called Intense Side Stretch Pose.

Guidelines:
1) Stand in Samasthiti. Keep the pelvis facing forward, step the right foot back.
2) Breathe in, arms up overhead.
3) With the legs stable, breathe out and fold forward from the hip joints. Place hands on the floor. Press
the right heel firmly to the ground. Stay in the pose and focus on breathing: breathing in, visualize
raising the hips up towards the sky, breathing out, pull the belly in towards spine.
4) To come out of the pose: breathe in and come up with arms up overhead. Breathe out, arms down.
Step right foot forward, back to Samasthiti.
5) Repeat on the other side.

Easing into the pose: People who have tight hamstrings can shorten the stance. Hands can be put on
the shin or on a block.

Effects:
Extends the back of the torso, especially the hamstrings and massages internal organs at the belly. It
also strengthens leg muscles.
Hatha Yoga - Standing and Grounding Āsanas 59

Uttānāsana (Standing Forward Bend)

Guidelines:
1) Stand in Samasthiti (Mountain Pose). Fold forward from the hips. Place hands on
the floor. Stay in the pose and focus on breathing: breathing in visualize lifting the
hips up towards the sky, and breathing out press the feet deeper into the ground.
Try to keep the hips above the ankles and keep the heels down.
2) To come out of the pose: breathe out and press feet firmly into the ground, then
breathe in to slowly roll up.

Variation: Rag Doll Pose. Hold elbows with hands. Allow the upper
torso to relax like a puppet.
Easing into the pose: For those who experience lower back strain, the
knees should be bent.

Effects:
Extends the entire back side of body, including the hamstrings and the
spine. Also massages the internal organs at the belly, and supplies more energy to the
brain which helps to keep the mind alert.

Śavāsana (Corpse) and Garbhāsana (Fetus)

Śavāsana (Corpse Pose) Guidelines:


1) Turn off all the lights. Lie on your back, feet hip or shoulder
distance apart, head aligned with the spine and arms by
the sides, palms face up.
2) Keep body warm and comfortable. If needed, cover with a
blanket. If chin is up, then put a small pillow under the
head. Close eyes or cover eyes with an eye pillow for
calming. Allow the body to sink into the ground. Allow the
breath to flow slowly and smoothly.
3) Play some light and soothing music in the background or let
someone be a guide into a deep sleep state. Stay in the
pose for at least 5 minutes. In Yoga Nidrā, it can be up to one hour.

Effects:
This is the best pose for relaxation and to relieve stress. It allows the nervous system to take a break
while the body’s energy has a chance to recharge and balance itself. Because this pose gives the
practitioner feelings of peace and tranquility, it is great for problems of insomnia and anxiety.

Garbhāsana (Fetus Pose) Guidelines:


1) Lie on one side. Rest head on the lower arm, knees bent towards chest.
Huddle the body like a fetus in the mother’s womb. Stay and enjoy.
2) To come out of the pose: put the upper hand on the floor and push up
to a comfortable seated position.

Effects:
A great pose to experience security and safety, it can also be a variation
relaxation pose. Pregnant women who are not comfortable to lie on their
back in Corpse Pose can use Fetus Pose to relax instead.
60 A Complete Yoga Manual

Utkaṭāsana (Chair)

Guidelines:
1) Stand in Samasthiti (Mountain Pose).
2) Put palms together in front of the chest, then bend the knees, hips back and down. Stay in the pose
and focus on breathing: breathing in visualize the upper torso extending, and breathing out bring the
belly in slightly towards the spine.
3) On an inhale straighten the legs, bring the arms to the side and return to Samasthiti.

Incorrect
Deepen the pose: bring the hips back a little more.
Notes: 1) Be aware of the position of the knees. They tend to pass the toes which will put too much
pressure on them. Try to stay in the position so that you’re still able to see your toes. 2) When bringing
the hips back, be careful not to curve the low back, and keep the chin down.

Effects:
This is a great pose to strengthen the legs.

Utkaṭā Koṇāsana (Goddess)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Mountain Pose. Spread feet apart and externally rotate both legs. Inhale, raise the arms
up to the sides.
2) Exhale and bend the knees and the elbows. Fingers pointing up. Stay in the pose and focus on
breathing: breathe in to expand the ribcage, and breathe out to pull the belly in slightly towards the
spine.

Deepening the Pose


Note: The bent knees should align with the second toe to limit the knees’ rotation inward.
Variation: With the lion’s roar. Inhale, stick the tongue out as far as possible, eyes wide open, and while
breathing out make a loud “AH” sound like the roar of a lion. This is an excellent way to release tension.

Effects:
This pose strengthens legs, opens hips and improves flexibility. This is also a great pose for pregnant
women.
Hatha Yoga - Backbend and Heart Opening Āsanas 61

3. Backbend and Heart Opening Āsanas


Backbends are the āsanas that can extend the front of the body. In Yoga the front refers to the east
side of the body (Yang side). Backbend and heart opening āsanas can boost energy, and give us
courage and confidence. It’s better to practice forward bends after backbend poses to balance.

Paścima Namaskārāsana (Prayer at the Back)

This pose is also called Reverse Prayer.

Guidelines:
1) Start from Samasthiti (Mountain Pose). Palms at the back, fingers pointing down.
2) Turn hands inward. Bring hands towards neck. Stay at the position, focus on breathing. Breathe out,
belly in; breathe in, expand the ribcage. Keep shoulders broad.
3) To come out of the pose: Breathe out, arms down, back to Mountain Pose.

Easing into the Pose: Hold elbows with hands.

Effects:
Expands chest, relaxes shoulders. Strengthens upper back. Increases wrist flexibility.

Supta Baddha Koṇāsana (Reclining Bound Angle)

This pose is also called Reclining Fixed Angle or Reclined Butterfly.

Guidelines:
Lie on the back. Bend the knees, bottom of the feet together. Can also rest lower back at the edge of a
bolster. The other side of bolster can be raised by a blanket or block. Put blanket under legs to support
if knees feel tense.

Effects:
Extends ligaments and relaxes muscles of legs. Increases blood circulation at the pelvis area which
helps to improve health of reproductive organs. This is a great pose for relaxation and renewal.
62 A Complete Yoga Manual

Bhujaṅgāsana (Cobra)

Guidelines:
1) Lie on the floor, arms by the side of the body, palms face up. Toes pointing straight backward.
2) Exhale, press pelvis down towards the floor, inhale, bring chest up and forward. Stay in the pose
and focus on the breath: breathing out to bring the belly in slightly towards the spine, and
breathing in to expand the whole body from top of head to toes.
3) Exhale, lower the body. Turn head to one side and rest on the cheek. Big toes together, heels apart.

Notes:
1) Normally Cobra pose is done with hands under shoulders, using the hands to
press down and bring the upper body up. It is very easy to go higher than the
body is comfortably able to, which can cause compression of the lower back.
2) Keep the back of neck long. Keep shoulders down away from ears.
Incorrect
Effects:
Improves blood circulation. Allows energy to flow smoothly along the spine. Strengthens the back and
helps improve the suppleness of the spine. Massages inner organs and improves digestion. Enhances
confidence.

Matsyāsana (Fish)

Guidelines:
1) Lie down on the floor. Put hands under the buttock, palms face down. Bring elbows as close as
possible.
2) Use elbows to support the body. Inhale and bring chest up
towards the sky. Let the top of head gently touch the floor.
Pay attention to the neck. Don’t strain the neck.
3) To come out of the pose: exhale to bring the belly in, raise
the head then back to the supine position.

Effects:
This pose massages organs inside the belly and nourishes the immune system. The extension of the
ribcage, the movement of diaphragm will help to improve a deep and slow breathing. This pose is
great for the respiratory system; improves posture such as hunchback and releases stress on shoulders.
Hatha Yoga - Backbend and Heart Opening Āsanas 63

Anāhatāsana (Melting Heart)

This pose is also called Extended Puppy Dog.

Guidelines:
1) Start from Table Pose. Put elbows on the floor. Keep hips above knees.
2) Bring chest towards the floor. Extend the arms in front or rest forehead on forearms.
3) Rest in Child Pose for a while when finished.

Effects:
This pose is great for extending shoulders. The front side of the torso is opened. Releases tension on
shoulders and arms. Improves posture and flexibility. This pose is suitable for pregnant women too.

Ardha Pūrvottānāsana (Reverse Table) to Pūrvottānāsana (Reverse Plank)

This pose is also called Half Eastern Intense Stretch or Crab.

Guidelines:
1) Sit on the floor with hands behind the pelvis. Fingers pointing forward. Feet flat on the floor.
Shoulders away from the ears.
2) Breathe in, pelvis towards the sky, stay. Breathe out, back to the start position.
3) From Reverse Table Pose, extend legs into Reverse Plank Pose.

In Kids Yoga, one can move sideways


back and forth like a crab.

Effects:
Strengthens arms, legs and belly. Nourishes the pelvis.
64 A Complete Yoga Manual

Uṣṭrāsana (Camel)

Guidelines:
1) Knees on the floor with knees hip distance apart. Arms by the sides of the torso.
2) Keep pelvis stable, breathe in, bend backward from the chest area. If the front thigh muscles are
tight or core strength is weak, we will tend to move from the lower back which might cause lower
back pain. Stay at the position and focus on breathing. Breathe in, visualize chest upward and back.
Breathe out, pull the belly in.
3) Rest in Child Pose for a while.

Note: When body flexibility and strength allow, let the hands move towards feet. Never force the
body in this position, otherwise it will cause lower back issues.

Effects:
Strengthens leg muscles and improves flexibility. Increases core strength and suppleness of the spine.
Nourishes the nervous system. Improves posture and gives us confidence.

Viparita Vīrabhadrāsana (Reverse Warrior)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Warrior II. Bending the left leg, raise arms up.
2) Turn the left palm face up. Keep the legs stable. Breathe in and bring the arms over the head to the
right.
3) Breathe out and back to centre in Warrior II pose. Then release the arms.
4) Repeat on the other side.

Easing into the pose: For people who have shoulder or neck issues, the arms should be lowered to
keep shoulders comfortable. For people who have lower back or knee concerns, the stance or distance
can be shortened between the feet, and the leg bent less.
Deepen the pose: For people who are strong and flexible, the distance between the feet can be wider.

Effects:
Reverse Warrior is a great posture for concentration, for extension of the upper torso, to expand lung
capacity, to strengthen thighs and calves and to open the hips.
Hatha Yoga - Backbend and Heart Opening Āsanas 65

Taḍāka Mudra (Tank Mudra) and Makarāsana (Crocodile)

Taḍāka Mudrā (Tank Mudra) Guidelines:


1) Lie on the back with arms overhead on the floor. Legs parallel to each other. Stay and focus on
breathing. Breathe in and extend the whole body from finger tips to toes, breathe out and pull the
belly in.
2) Knees towards chest.
3) Turn to one side to Fetus Pose and come to seated position.

Effects:
Body extension accompanied with breathing gives us vitality. Great pose for relief from fatigue. When
practiced properly Uḍḍiyāna Bandha will happen naturally.

Makarāsana (Crocodile Pose) Guidelines:


There are two forms of Crocodile Pose.
1) Lie on the tummy, extend legs, toes pointing backward. Put elbows on the floor and use hands to
support head. Stay, relax face. Like a child reading a book on the floor.

2) The other form: rest head on the forearms, extend legs, toes pointing outward, heels inward.
Imagine lying in the sun still like a crocodile.

Effects:
This is a relaxing pose with chest slightly raised. Effects similar to Cobra Pose but not as strong.
Nourishes the nervous system.
66 A Complete Yoga Manual

4. Twist Āsanas
Twists stimulate the solar plexus, produce heat and help massage organs inside the belly, improving
digestion. When practicing twist āsanas properly, both the front side and back side of the body can be
extended. We can learn how to balance stress and relax in twist poses if we are able to breathe smoothly
during a twist. A forward bend pose right after a twist is suggested to set the spine back to centre.

Supta Matsyendrāsana (Supine Spinal Twist)

Guidelines:
1) Lie on the floor with arms extended to the sides. Knees towards chest.
2) Keep inside of legs together. Focus on breathing. Breathe out, roll both legs to
one side and hover; breathe in, back to centre. Breathe out, roll legs to the
other side. Repeat these movements by following your own breathing rhythm.
3) Put legs to one side on the floor; turn head to the opposite side of knees. Stay
in this position for a while. Breathe in and back to centre. Repeat on the other
side.

Effects:
This is a pose that can be practiced often. When the inside of the legs are together
rolling side to side, the movement strengthens the belly muscles. When resting
legs on the floor, this can massage the internal organs and spine, gently
stimulating the nervous system for a calming effect. This pose can be done before
the final relaxation.

Parivṛtta Utkaṭāsana (Revolved Chair)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Chair Pose. Keep the pelvis facing forward. Breathe out and turn from the belly area to
the left. Stay, breathe out and pull belly in, breathe in and visualize extending the spine.
2) Breathe in and back to centre. Breathe out and turn to the other side.
3) Rest in Standing forward bend after this Revolved Chair Pose.

Incorrect

Note: We will tend to move the pelvis. The movement starts from the belly; or we will move our hands
instead of the upper torso. Keep palms in front of chest.

Effects:
Enhances the Chair pose. At the same time, it will have the effects of a twist: massages internal organs
and strengthens the core.
Hatha Yoga - Twist Āsanas 67

Ardha Matsyendrāsana (Half Lord of Fishes)

Also called Half Spinal Twist. There are two forms of Half Lord of Fishes.

Guidelines for the first form:


1) Sit on the floor and extend right leg in front. Put the left foot inside of the right leg. Bring awareness
to the sit bones and let the body weight be evenly distributed. Upper torso folds forward with spine
long.
2) Reach left arm towards right leg and put right arm at the back towards left leg.
3) Move from the belly button to the right then turn head to the left to look back.
4) Stay, breathe out and pull the belly in; breathe in and expand the rib cage.
5) Breathe in and back to centre. Repeat on the other side.

Deepen the pose: Put the left foot on top of the right leg. Keep the weight evenly on both sides of the
sit bones.

Guidelines for the second form:


1) Sit on the floor and put the right foot to the left. Put the left foot outside of the right leg. Be aware
of the sit bones and distribute the body weight evenly on both sides of the sit bones. Keep upper
torso long.
2) Wrap the left leg with right and put left arm at the back towards right leg.
3) Move from the belly button to the left then turn head to the left to look back.
4) Stay, breathe out and pull the belly in; breathe in and expand the rib cage.
5) Breathe in and back to centre. Repeat on the other side.

Deepen the pose: Try joining hands together. Keep the weight evenly on both sides of the sit bones.

Effects:
The whole spine is twisted which strongly stimulates the nervous system. Releases the energy that is
stored inside, hence energizing the body. Improves the flexibility of the spine and suppleness of the
body.
68 A Complete Yoga Manual

Marīchyāsana (Marīchi's Pose)

Also called Seated Spinal Twist.

Guidelines:
1) Sit on the floor and extend both legs. Bend the left leg, left foot flat on the floor. Bring awareness to
the sit bones and let the body weight be evenly distributed.
2) Put left arm inside the left leg. Reach left arm towards right leg and fold forward.
3) Move from the belly button to the right then turn head to the left to look back.
4) Stay, breathe out and pull the belly in; breathe in and expand the rib cage.
5) Breathe in and back to centre. Repeat on the other side.

Deepen the pose: Bring hands together at the


back and hold. Keep the weight evenly on both
sides of the sit bones; fold forward and bring head
towards knee.

Effects:
Massages internal organs. Strengthens the bent leg. Balances endocrine system. Improves core strength.
Extends the back muscles, so improves the flexibility of the spine and suppleness of the body.

Pārśva Balāsana (Thread the Needle)

Also called Revolved Child's.

Guidelines:
1) Start from Table pose. Right arm goes through between left arm and left leg, palm face up.
2) Have right shoulder on the floor. Extend left arm towards sky and open heart.
3) Upper arm can fold at the back. Stay and focus on breathing. Breathe in, expand the rig cage; breathe
out, pull belly in.
4) Breathe out and release upper arm. Then rest in Child pose. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Extends upper back, shoulders and neck. Expands rib cage. Improves lung function.
Hatha Yoga - Twist Āsanas 69

Pāśāsana (Noose)

It’s called Owl in Kids Yoga.

Guidelines:
1) Squat with upper torso long. Keep feet firmly on floor and put right arm outside the left leg. Left arm
is at the back towards the right leg. Turn the head to the right. Stay and focus on breathing. Breathe
in, expand the rib cage; breathe out pulling the belly in.
2) Then turn the head to the left and stay.
3) Inhale and back to centre.
4) Repeat on the other side.

Deepen the pose: Both hands clasp together.


Easing into the pose: Squat and hold elbows with hands. Turn head side to side. Imagine the body is
bound, but the head can turn freely like an owl. An owl can see behind without relocating its torso when
moving its head. It can also see at night. Can we see clearly around us without moving our body?

Effects:
Strengthens ankles and legs. Massages internal organs. Releases neck and shoulder tension. Stimulates
the nervous system and endocrine system.

Parivṛtta Ardha Chandrāsana (Revolved Half Moon)

Guidelines:
1) Bring legs apart and raise arms. External rotate the right leg; internal rotate the left leg.
2) Turn pelvis to the right and put left hand outside of right foot. Open heart and extend right arm
towards sky.
3) Move left hand to the front of right foot, bend the right knee and shift weight to the front leg.
4) Raise left leg into Revolved Half Moon pose. Stay and focus on the front foot. Distribute the weight
of the foot evenly between the centre of the heel, the ball of the foot and the base of the baby toe.
Keep these three spots evenly on the floor. Keep the support knee soft.
5) Put the left leg down and back to start position. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Extends the whole body and at the same time compresses organs. Improves the digestive system and
circulation system. Only those with good balance, flexibility and strong legs are able to stay in this pose
with ease of breath. Gives confidence to the practitioner.
70 A Complete Yoga Manual

5. Balance and Core Āsanas


Without core strength we cannot balance well and Balance poses can help us to find our core. So when
practicing these āsanas first focus on the awareness of the core and then improve the strength of the
core. In this way we can naturally find our balance.

Vṛksāsana (Tree)

Guidelines:
1) Stand in Mountain Pose. Focus on a spot on the floor or in front to help keep the balance.
Right toes on the floor, heel is up.
2) Keep the pelvis facing forward. Externally rotate right leg. Slide right foot up along the
inside of support leg. Be careful not to put the foot on the knee joint. Palms together in
front of chest.
3) Put the right foot at the root of support leg only if the pelvis is able to keep
square. Breathe in and bring the arms over head. Stay in the pose and focus on
the breath: breathing out, visualize feet planted deeply to the earth, and
breathing in, visualize the body like a tree trunk growing up towards the sky.
4) Exhale and back to Mountain Pose. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Strengthens leg muscles. Improves flexibility of hips and great for improving balance. Helps
to have a graceful figure. Extends length of concentration period.

Śiśumārāsana (Dolphin)

Guidelines:
1) Start from the Table Pose. Put elbows on the floor shoulder width apart, fingers interlaced.
2) Breathe out and press elbows towards floor; breathe in and extend the pelvis towards the sky. Allow
knees to bend to keep the spine long.
3) Stay, breathe out and pull the belly in; breathe in and expand the rib cage.
4) Keep spine long while pressing heels towards the ground.

Effects:
This is a great pose to strengthen arms and belly. Helps to relieve fatigue and rejuvenates. Extends the
hamstrings. People with high blood pressure and vertigo should be careful and not stay in this pose too
long.
The common range of human hearing is 20 Hz to 20 KHz. Dolphins have more sensitive hearing than
humans. They are able to hear from 20 to 100 KHz. That means dolphins can hear ultrasound. Hearing in
the high frequencies is important for communication and echolocation for dolphins. Practicing Dolphin
Pose helps to bring more blood flow to the brain and keep one alert to react promptly.
Hatha Yoga - Balance and Core Āsanas 71

Vyāghrāsana (Tiger)

Guidelines:
1) Start from the Table Pose, hips level. Extend right leg behind. Keep
shoulders away from ears.
2) Following your own breathing rhythm, breathing in, extend the leg;
breathing out, bring knee towards forehead.
3) Back to centre to Table Pose. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Gives the body a graceful line. The spine movement enhances the nervous
system and improves flexibility.

Parighāsana (Door Bar)

Also called Gateway.

Guidelines:
1) Kneel on the floor and extend right leg to the side. Toes pointing forward.
Inhale and raise arms to the sides.
2) Exhale and lean to the right. Keep the head aligned with the spine. Stay,
breathe out and pull the belly in; breathe in and expand the rib cage.
3) Inhale and back to centre. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Strengthens legs, ankles. Reduces fat at belly. Nourishes internal organs. Expands the
ribcage and gives vitality. This can be a pose practiced by pregnant women.

Paripūrṇa Nāvāsana (Complete Boat)

Guidelines:
1) Sit with hands behind hips, lean back slightly. Exhale and lift heals up. Keep toes touching the floor.
2) Keep shoulders away from ears and breathe easy, both feet up. Stay, breathing in, lift the chest;
breathing out, pull the belly in slightly.
3) Be aware of the sensations at lower back. Extend legs and arms when there is no strain at lower back.
Let the sitting bones support the body instead of the tailbone.
4) Release legs and arms, feet together, head towards feet and relax.

Effects:
This is a pose that needs the core for support. Don’t force to extend legs. If one can have the suitable
feet and leg position, then the leg muscles and core can be strengthened. Also develops balance and
overall strength.
72 A Complete Yoga Manual

Anjaneyāsana (Crescent Moon)

This pose is also called Low Lunge. In Yin Yoga and Kids Yoga, this pose is called Dragon.

Guidelines:
1) Kneel on the floor. Step right foot forward and extend left leg behind. Keep the pelvis facing forward.
2) Inhale, arms up over head. With lower back relaxed, stay in the pose and focus on the breath:
breathing out, bring the belly in slightly towards the spine; breathing in, visualize chest up towards
the sky. Other ways to position arms are to clasp hands behind or palms together.
3) Exhale, arms down. Repeat on the other side.

Variation: Spread fingers apart, make a loud “HA”sound when you breathe out. Imagine you are a
dragon with fire coming out from the mouth.
Note: If the knees feel the pressure, then put a blanket under the back knee.

Effects:
Strengthens legs and improves flexibility. Expands lung capacity. When practiced properly, can feel the
support from the core.

Hanumānāsana (Monkey God)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Anjaneyāsana (Crescent Moon), knee on the floor. Step right foot forward.
2) Keep pelvis square, extend front leg and back leg.
3) Palms together in front of chest or fingers interlaced at the back.
4) Release hands. Repeat on the other side.

Can also forward bend with hands on the floor.


Be careful to keep shoulders down. Use core
strength to reduce pressure at the back knee.

Effects:
Great for improving flexibility and strengthening the core.
Hatha Yoga - Balance and Core Āsanas 73

Chaturaṅga Daṇḍāsana (Four-limbed Staff)

Guidelines:
1) Lie on the belly, elbows and knees on the floor.
2) Exhale and raise buttocks up. Stay in the pose and focus on the breath. Breathing out, relax face and
neck; breathing in, extend chest forward.
3) If lower back allows, lift knees up from the floor.
4) When arms are strong enough and wrists allow, then use palms to support.
5) Exhale to release and rest forehead on the forearms.

Effects:
Strengthens arms. When we are able to use the strength from both arms and legs to support our body,
we can improve our body coordination and core strength.

Garuḍāsana (Eagle)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Mountain Pose. Focus on a spot on the floor or in front to help keep the balance. Inhale
and extend arms to the sides.
2) Exhale and cross arms in front of chest with left arm on top.
3) Depends on the flexibility of shoulders. Choose either the back of hands towards each other or palms
together, thumbs towards face. These arm exercises can be done by sitting on a chair.
4) Keep the pelvis facing forward, left leg over right leg. Knees bent.
5) Choose to either keep left foot toes on the floor or put left foot behind right calf.
6) Release arms and legs. Back to Mountain Pose. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Strengthens leg muscles. Improves flexibility of hips. Releases shoulder tension and develops balance.
Extends concentration period.
74 A Complete Yoga Manual

Naṭarājāsana (Dancer)

Guidelines:
1) Stand in Samasthiti (Mountain Pose). Focus on a spot on the floor or in front to help keep the balance.
Left foot away from the floor.
2) Hold left ankle with hand. Raise the right arm up, index finger and thumb together. Lean forward
with body extending.
3) Use leg muscles to bring left leg up and still keep hips level.
4) Exhale and back to Mountain Pose. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Strengthens legs. Improves balance and flexibility of hips. Extends concentration period.

Naṭavarāsana (Krishna)

Also called Flute Playing Pose.

Guidelines:
1) Stand in Samasthiti (Mountain Pose). Focus on a spot on the floor or in front to help keep the balance.
Left leg over right leg.
2) Both arms at the left side of the body. Right palm faces backward and left palm faces forward. Both
hands index finger and thumb connected. Imagine holding a flute.
3) Turn head to the right. Stay. Try to close eyes and visualize playing a flute and at the same time listen
to the sound of the universe.
4) Relax and back to Mountain Pose. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Tones legs and arms. Improves balance and flexibility of hips. Extends concentration period.
Hatha Yoga - Balance and Core Āsanas 75

Bakāsana (Crane)

Guidelines:
1) Squat with hands on the floor. Place knees at upper arms. Hips up. Breathe out then raise heels.
2) Keep breathing smoothly then raise one foot up. Keep shoulders away from ears.
3) Raise both feet when core strength allows.
4) When wrists and arms are strong enough, try to straighten arms.

Effects:
This pose looks like it needs strong arms, but actually the core is supporting the body. When one finds
out how to use the core, then they won’t put all their body weight on their wrists. Strengthens arms and
wrists and lets us find out how to use our core.

Ardha Chandāsana (Half Moon)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Side Angle Pose. Put one block by the right foot.
2) Breathe out and lean to the right; put right hand on block.
3) Shift weight to the right foot and lift left leg up. Stay at the position. Finger tips
gently touching the block and try not to put the body weight at the right hand.
This can help to find the core and straighten the support leg.
4) When balance allows, then extend arms and legs.
5) Repeat on the other side.
6) Also can do this pose against the wall.

Effects:
Strengthens leg muscles. Opens hips. Releases shoulder tension and develops balance. Extends
concentration period.
76 A Complete Yoga Manual

Vīrabhadrāsana III (Warrior III)

There are two ways to practice Warrior III.

Guidelines for the first way:


1) Start from Mountain Pose. Focus on a spot on the floor or in front to help keep the balance. Palms
together in front of chest. Keep pelvis square and step right foot back.
2) Keep the whole torso long and lean forward. Depending on the balance, choose either to keep the
right foot on the floor, or not.
3) Keep hips level and shift more body weight to the front foot. Stay, breathe out, belly slightly in and
breathe in, extend the whole torso. Focus on support foot; distribute the body weight evenly
between the centre of the heel, the ball of the foot and the base of the baby toe. Keep these three
spots evenly on the floor. Try to close the eyes.
4) Breathe out and put the right leg down, back to Mountain Pose.
5) Repeat on the other side.

Guidelines for the second way:


1) Start from Warrior I. Focus on a spot on the floor or in front to help keep the balance. Extend arms
upward.
2) Keep the whole torso long and lean forward.
3) Keep hips level and put all the body weight to the front foot. Lift right leg and let the right leg and
upper torso inline. Stay, breathe out, belly slightly in and breathe in, extend the whole torso.
4) Breathe out and put the right leg down, back to Warrior I, then Mountain Pose.
5) Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Warrior III presents a peaceful warrior that not only has a strong body but also a strong mind. The
perfection of Yoga poses is to be able to find balance between a healthy body and sound mind. Warrior
III is an ideal pose to look at the harmony between passion and peace, stillness and action. We can
experience the strength of balance and core in both variations.
Hatha Yoga - Inversion Āsanas 77

6. Inversion Āsanas
Inversions include poses where the feet are higher than the heart or/and where the heart is higher than
the head. These poses allow our body to work against gravity so that the blood and energy will move a
different way, improving circulation. For example, a widely recognized pose Adho Mukha Śvānāsana
(Downward Facing Dog Pose), positions our heart above the head, so that blood and energy move
towards our head, calming the brain, helping to relieve stress, and at the same time energizing the body.

Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana (Bridge)

Guidelines:
1) Lie on the floor, feet hip distance apart, arms by the sides.
2) Exhale, press feet down towards the floor; inhale, bring pelvis up towards the sky.
3) Stay, let shoulders and feet act as the four supports of the bridge. Exhale, press shoulders and feet
down towards the floor; inhale, relax the face. Arms can be over head.
4) Exhale, pelvis down and relax.

Effects:
Strengthens legs and belly muscles. Helps to relax lower back. The Bridge is an inversion pose as well as
a heart opening pose. It expands the ribcage and improves lung capacity. It also strengthens the nervous
system, and improves spine flexibility.

Adho Mukha Śvānāsana (Downward Facing Dog) and Phalakāsana (Plank)

Guidelines:
1) Start from the Table pose. Exhale, hips up towards the sky. Make sure the
spine is long. Allow legs to bend if required.
2) Stay. Inhale, extend the spine; exhale and bring the belly in slightly
towards the spine. Be aware how the wrists and shoulders feel.
3) Keep the spine long and try to press the heels towards the floor. Keep the
spine and legs straight when body allows.
4) From Downward Facing Dog Pose move forward to Plank Pose.

Effects:
Calms the brain, helps to relieve stress, at the
same time energizing the body. Releases
fatigue and restores vitality. Extends hamstrings, strengthens calves, and
ankles. People who have high blood pressure should not stay in this pose too
long. In Ashtanga Yoga, Downward Facing Dog Pose is used as a relaxing pose.
78 A Complete Yoga Manual

Ānanda Balāsana (Happy Baby)

Guidelines:
1) Lie on the floor; hold feet with hands and pull legs towards floor.
2) Imagine being like a baby playing with the toes.

Effects:
Improves hip flexibility. Nourishes curiosity like a child. Encourages openness
to the world without worry. Good for people who like to run.

Viparīta Karani (Legs-Up)

Also called Inverted Pose.

Guidelines:
1) Lie on the floor, knees towards chest.
2) Extend legs towards the sky. Allow knees to bend if required. Heels up.
3) Or legs against wall, relax whole body.

Effects:
Heels up helps to extend legs. When doing the pose against the wall, helps to relax the back and the
brain. Good for insomnia right before sleep.

Sūcirandhrāsana (Eye of Needle)

Guidelines:
1) Lie on the floor, feet hip distance apart. Put right ankle above left knee.
2) Put hands behind the left knee and pull left leg towards the body. Left leg can be bent or straight.
3) Exhale and relax. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Great for hips. Need to practice with patience. Great for runners.
Hatha Yoga - Inversion Āsanas 79

Anantāsana (Sleeping Viṣṇu)

Guidelines:
1) Lie on one side and support the head with hand, legs bent.
2) Inhale and raise upper leg towards the sky. Stay in the pose and focus on the breath: breathing in,
extend leg towards the sky; breathing out, relax the face.
3) Use hand to bring leg towards the torso.
4) Keep the stability on pelvis and extend
lower leg when balance allows.
5) Exhale and lower leg. Repeat on the other
side.

Effects:
Tones legs and buttock. Improves flexibility of hips. Strengthens legs and stretches tendons and
ligaments. Improves balance.

Sarvāṅgāsana (Shoulder Stand)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Viparīta Karani (Legs-Up Pose), legs towards sky.
2) Support lower back with hands and let shoulders and hands support the torso to reduce pressure on
neck. Body weight should be on the arms and shoulders with the support from core. Be cautious to
keep facing up. Don’t turn head to the side otherwise neck will get injured.
3) Based on the feeling of the neck, we can choose to bring the legs overhead, above the head or above
the shoulders. Stay and focus on the breath. Breathing out, bring the belly in slightly towards the
spine; breathing in, extend legs.
4) To come out of the pose: bend legs, lower the spine vertebra by vertebra to the ground. Practice
Bridge pose or rest in Corpse Pose after Shoulder Stand.

Effects:
Shoulder stand Pose allows blood flow towards the neck and stimulates thyroid and parathyroid.
Improves these glands function and improves immune system. The movement on the spine can
strengthen the nervous system and make the spine supple.
80 A Complete Yoga Manual

Halāsana (Plough)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Viparīta Karani (Legs-Up Pose), legs towards sky.
2) Let the position of the feet be guided by how the neck feels. Be cautious to keep face up. Don’t turn
head to the side otherwise neck will get injured. Stay and focus on breathing. Breathing out, relax
the face, and breathing in, expand the ribcage.
3) To come out of the pose: bend legs, lower the spine vertebra by vertebra to the ground. Practice
Bridge pose or rest in Corpse Pose after Plough Pose.

Effects:
Plough Pose allows blood to flow towards the neck and stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid.
Improves these glands function and improves immune system. Stretches the back, strengthens the
nervous system and makes the spine more supple.

Praṇāmāsana (Bowing)

Also called Hare Pose.

Guidelines:
1) Start from Table Pose and put the top of the head on the ground, hands by the side of the head to
reduce pressure on the neck. Stay and focus on the breath. Breathing out, bring the belly in slightly
towards the spine, and breathing in, relax the face.
2) If the core is strong enough, then clasp hands above the head, pulling arms towards the sky.
3) Rest in Child Pose.

Effects:
This pose helps to relieve fatigue. With blood flowing towards the head, the pineal, pituitary and
hypothalamus are being stimulated which will improve overall health condition. People with high blood
pressure should not stay in this pose too long.
Hatha Yoga - Inversion Āsanas 81

Sālamba Śīrṣāsana (Supported Headstand)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Dolphin pose, fingers interlaced, elbows and hands form a stable triangle as base and
buttocks points towards the sky.
2) Slowly walk feet towards head, keep the spine long and bend knees. Bring legs towards belly and
raise one leg.
3) Raise the other leg. The body weight is distributed to arms and core. The head is barely touching the
ground and there is no compression on the neck. When practitioner is able to find the proper support,
then the legs can be extended.
4) Practice with wall first.

Effects:
Headstand requires arms and core support. Only when the Dolphin Pose and Mountain Pose (Samasthiti)
have been mastered, can the Headstand be practiced properly, otherwise the neck could be injured
which might cause stroke. This pose is also called the “king of poses”. Helps to relieve stress, at the same
time energizing the body. With the blood flow towards the head, the pineal, pituitary and hypothalamus
are being stimulated which will improve overall health. Also, helps to keep the mind alert and train the
mind to react quickly. People with high blood pressure should not stay in this pose too long.

Adho Mukha Vṛkṣāsana (Handstand)

Also called Downward Facing Tree.

Guidelines:
1) Both hands on the floor, bounce legs up in an alternate manner. This is called Donkey Kick in Kids
Yoga.
2) Practice with wall: start from Seated back stretching pose, extend legs on the floor, hands by feet.
3) Keep the hand position, put feet on the wall and walk upward.
4) Extend both legs, extend the whole body into Handstand Pose.
5) Walk down the wall and rest in Child Pose.

Effects:
Handstand requires strong wrists and core support. Only when the Downward Facing Dog Pose and
Mountain Pose (Tāḍāsana) have been mastered, can the Handstand be practiced properly, otherwise
wrists could be injured. This pose has the same effects as Headstand and maintains vitality.
82 A Complete Yoga Manual

7. Forward Bends and Seated Āsanas


Forward bends are the āsanas that can extend the back of the body. In Yoga the back refers to the west
side of the body (Yin side). Forward bends and Seated āsanas cultivate a witness, or observer attitude,
and have a calming and relaxing effect. After practicing forward bends and seated poses, it is better to
practice poses that can stretch the whole body.

Daṇḍāsana (Staff)

Guidelines:
1) Sit on the ground and extend both legs, toes pointing towards the sky, arms by the sides of the torso.
Shoulders relaxed.
2) Bending the knees helps to keep the spine long. Stay and focus on the breath. Breathe out, belly in
and breathe in, extend the spine.

Incorrect
Effects:
Strengthens both legs and core muscles. Also a great pose to experience the flow of energy. But if we
don’t know how to relax the lower back, then we cannot find the core. When the pelvis is properly
located, we can then gain the benefits.

Jānu Śīrṣāsana (Seated Head-to-knee Forward Bend)

In Yin Yoga also called Half-butterfly.

Guidelines:
1) Sit on the ground and extend the right leg, place left foot against the right leg.
2) Exhale and fold forward from the hips. Place the hands on the floor. Bend the right knee when the
lower back feels tight to allow the spine to extend.
3) Stay and relax the shoulders and face. Focus on the breath. Breathe in, chest towards knees, breathe
out, belly in.
4) If the body allows, straighten the right leg, hands can wrap around the foot.
5) Inhale and raise the body. Back to Staff pose. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Extends the hamstring. Strengthens calf muscles. Reduces fat around waist. Calms the mind and reduces
stress. Helps release fatigue.
Hatha Yoga - Forward Bends and Seated Āsanas 83

Paścimottānāsana (Seated Back Stretch)

Also called Western Intense Stretch. In Yin Yoga it’s called Caterpillar.

Guidelines:
1) Start from Staff pose, extend both legs. Keep the pelvis in neutral. Inhale and raise arms over head.
2) Exhale and fold forward from the hips. Place hands on the floor. Bend knees when lower back feels
tight to allow the spine to extend. Stay and relax the shoulders and face. Focus on the breath.
Breathe in, chest towards knees, breathe out, belly in.
3) If the body allows, straighten the legs, hands can wrap around the feet.
4) Inhale and raise the body. Back to Staff pose.

Effects: 26
From the back of the legs to the spine, the whole back of the body is extended. Calms the mind and
reduces stress. Helps release fatigue. Also massages and nourishes the internal organs.

Gomukhāsana (Cow Face)

Guidelines:
1) Sit on the ground and cross the left leg over the right leg. Distribute the body weight evenly on both
sides of the sit bones.
2) Raise the left arm and bend the elbow with palm face inside. Fingers pointing towards the ground.
Right arm folds at the back with palm face outside. Fingers pointing towards the sky.
3) Keep the upper torso straight and let the hands clasp when the body is ready.
4) Stay, breathe in and expand the rib cage, breathe out and relax the face.
5) Exhale to release and relax. Bring awareness to the feeling in the shoulders and arms.
6) Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Improves posture and shoulder flexibility. Stretches the leg muscles. The legs will have more suppleness.
84 A Complete Yoga Manual

Upaviṣṭha Koṇāsana (Wide-angle Seated Forward Bend)

In Yin Yoga, it’s called Dragonfly.

Guidelines:
1) Sit on the ground and open legs. One can sit on a blanket when the lower back feels tight.
2) Exhale and fold forward, put hands on the ground and bring elbows towards the floor.
3) Put the entire upper torso on the ground if the body allows.
4) Inhale, slowly come up. Legs together.

Effects:
Improves the blood circulation in the pelvis and legs. Stretches the leg muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Great for pregnant women. Be cautious when pregnant to avoid overstretching.

Vīrāsana (Hero)

Guidelines:
1) Start from the Rock pose then spread feet apart, pelvis on the floor.
2) One can sit on one or two blocks to reduce knee tension.
3) One can place the hands in Prayer position at the back pose in Hero Pose.

Effects:
Stretches ankles and the front thigh. Be cautious of the knees. Any time the knees feel discomfort, come
out of the pose at once.
Hatha Yoga - Forward Bends and Seated Āsanas 85

Baddha Koṇāsana (Bound Angle)

Also called Butterfly.

Guidelines:
1) Sit on the ground with soles of feet together. Try to bring heels
towards the perineum.
2) Exhale and fold forward from the hips, head towards feet.
3) Flap legs up and down like a butterfly flapping the wings.

Effects:
Helps to open hips and improves flexibility. Stretches leg muscles,
ligaments and tendons. Can be practiced to prepare for the other
seated poses. Helps to bring peace of mind and reduces stress. This is
also a great pose for pregnant women.

Mṛgāsana (Deer)

Guidelines:
1) Bend both legs to one side. Try to let both sit bones towards the floor.
2) Stay in the position or fold forward. Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
Releases hips. Stretch leg muscles, ligaments
and tendons. Can be practiced to prepare
for Hero pose or Lotus pose. Helps to bring
peace of mind and reduces stress.

Kūrmāsana (Turtle)

Guidelines:
1) Sit on the ground with soles of feet together. Keep feet away from the body and
place hands between legs.
2) Extend arms outside legs. Head towards feet. The back is like the shell of a turtle.

Effects:
This pose helps to open hips and improves flexibility.
Stretches the leg muscles, tendons and
ligaments. Stretches the back muscles
and helps to calm the mind to face
stress.
86 A Complete Yoga Manual

Haṃsāsana (Sleeping Swan)

Guidelines:
1) Start from the Table Pose and put right knee beside right hand.
2) Extend the left leg and try to keep the pelvis facing forward. This position is also called Pigeon Pose.
3) Lean forward and rest forehead on forearms. Or extend arms over head.
4) Follow with Downward Facing Dog or Cat and Cow, then repeat on the other side.

Effects:
This pose helps to open the hips and improves flexibility. Stretches the leg muscles, tendons and
ligaments. Good for people who like to run.

Adhomukha Vīrāsana (Downward Facing Hero)

Also called Wide Knee Child Pose, or Polar Bear in Kids Yoga.

Guidelines:
Start from Child Pose with knees apart and toes together.
One can rest on a bolster for this pose.

Effects:
Great for relaxation especially for pregnant woman. In Kids
Yoga, children can imagine they are resting like a polar bear.
Hatha Yoga - Forward Bends and Seated Āsanas 87

Mahā Mudrā (The Great Gesture)

Guidelines:
This pose includes the three Bandhas. Practicing focus on the subtle
body. Only the one who grasps the meaning of Bandhas and Mudrās
and is guided by a Spiritual master can actually perform this āsana.
Otherwise, one can practice Jānu Śīrṣāsana (Seated Head-to-knee
Forward Bend Pose).

Effects:
The Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā says “Great evils and pains, such as death, are eliminated by it, and for this
very reason wise men call it the Mahā Mudrā … Even taken the deadliest of poisons, with practicing this
mudrā, will turn out like nectar”.

Vajrāsana (Rock)

Also called Diamond, Thunderbolt, or Kneeling Pose.

Guidelines:
1) Kneel on the floor with pelvis resting on the heels and hands on the lap.
2) Rolling a small blanket behind the knees helps to reduce tension on the knees.
3) Bring awareness to the body. Inhale, extend the spine and exhale, belly slightly
in.

Effects:
Stretches the ankles and the front of the thighs. Try this pose when the lower back feels tight from other
seated positions for meditation. In this pose, the spine naturally extends which helps energy flow in the
spine.

Sukhāsana (Easy)

Also called Pleasant Pose.

Guidelines:
1) Sit on the ground and place legs at a comfortable position.
2) Sit on blocks or a folded blanket to help keep the pelvis in neutral position.
Supporting the outside of legs with blocks or a blanket helps to release
tension on the knees. Keep face and neck relaxed, breathing
naturally.
3) The easiest pose can be to sit on a chair and place feet flat on the ground.
4) Start from 3 minutes and gradually extend to 15 minutes. When sitting on a chair, try
to stay for 30 minutes.

Effects:
The pose to start meditation. Easy to practice. Helps to release hips. Nourishes the nervous
system and keeps the mind alert. Practicing every day helps to relax and at the same time
gives the ability to react quickly.
88 A Complete Yoga Manual

Brahmāsana (Half Lotus)

Guidelines:
1) One foot against inside of the opposite thigh, the other foot on top of
the leg. Hands in Mudrā, chin down. Focus between the eyebrows.
2) Keep the spine long, neck and face relaxed, natural breath.
3) Start from 15 minutes and gradually extend to 30 minutes.

Siddhāsana (Accomplished)

Also called Sage Pose.

Guidelines:
1) One foot against perineum, the other foot on top of the bottom foot.
Heels stacked. Hands in Mudrā, chin down. Focus on heart.
2) Keep the spine long, neck and face relaxed, natural breath.
3) Start from 15 minutes and gradually extend to 30 minutes.
4) The Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā states “Once Siddhāsana is achieved, other
āsanas are of no use … when Siddhāsana is firmly established, the three Bandhas happen easily by
themselves, one attains the pleasure at once”.

Svastikāsana (Auspicious)

Guidelines:
1) One foot against inside of the opposite thigh, the other foot also against
the opposite thigh. Hands in Mudrā, chin down. Focus on tip of nose.
2) Keep the spine long, neck and face relaxed, natural breath.
3) Start from 15 minutes and gradually extend to 30 minutes.
4) Difference between Auspicious Pose and Accomplished Pose: In
Auspicious Pose the heels are not against the perineum and don’t have
to be stacked.

Padmāsana (Full Lotus)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Half Lotus Pose and put both feet on top of the opposite thigh.
Hands in Mudrā, chin down. Focus between the eyebrows.
2) Keep the spine long, neck and face relaxed, natural breath.
3) Start from 15 minutes and gradually extend to 30 minutes.

Effects:
All of these 4 seated poses help to improve concentration. Opens the hips and improves flexibility. Helps
one to settle down and be in peace.
Hatha Yoga - Forward Bends and Seated Āsanas 89

Siṁhāsana (Lion)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Rock pose and spread the fingers apart like the
claws of a lion.
2) Lean forward and stick the tongue out as far as possible. The
eyes are open wide and look up. Roar like a
lion, make an “Ah” sound when exhaling.
Imagine you are a fierce lion.
3) Can be practiced with the Lotus Pose.

Effects:
Releases negative energy in the body and
allows emotions to come out. Suitable for
pregnant women and kids. Also, the face
muscles and tongue that seldom have a chance to be exercised can be stretched.
The Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā says “Siṁhāsana is honoured by the best of Yogis. This
supreme āsana effects the completion of the three Bandhas. ”

Baddha Padmāsana (Bound Lotus)

Guidelines:
Start from Lotus Pose. Cross arms at the back and hold toes with
fingers.

Effects:
Similar to Lotus Pose. At the same time expands the chest and
enhances the respiratory system.

Yoga Mudrā (Yoga Sealing)

Guidelines:
1) Start from Bound Lotus Pose and fold forward, head
towards the ground. This is the Yoga Sealing in Ashtanga
Yoga.27
2) The simplified form of Yoga Sealing can be a variation
of the Standing Forward Bend Pose: fingers laced at the
back and fold forward. Knees soft. Arms towards the sky.

Effects:
In this pose the whole body, including the head is restricted from movement. Helps to
build up inner strength. The subtle body is forced to awaken and connect to the
universal energy. The simplified form has all the effects of the Standing Forward Bend
Pose, and also expands the rib cage and relaxes the shoulders.
90 A Complete Yoga Manual

8. Set Series
A Set series refers to a sequence of steps to take in order to achieve a particular goal, like the Sun
salutation and Moon salutation. Focus on the flow and rhythm of breath, the movement and the breath
relationship. A set series needs to be practiced guided by a teacher. After a lot of repetition, the whole
set of movements will flow like a river naturally and smoothly.

Sūrya Namaskār (Sun Salutation)

Guidelines:
Including the left and right side. When we do the right side move the right leg first. When we do the left
side, move the left leg first. In this way one won’t be confused.

1) Exhale and palms in front of chest.


2) Inhale and extend arms over head.
3) Exhale and fold forward.
4) Inhale and step right leg back.

5) Hold the breath


briefly and step the left
leg back.
6) Exhale and knees
touch the floor.

7) Inhale and extend


torso forward.
8) Exhale and hips up
towards the sky.

9) Inhale and step the right leg forward.


10) Exhale and step the left leg forward.
11) Inhale and arms up overhead.
12) Exhale and palms together.

13) Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
This sequence is always being practiced in a Yoga class. It can adjust different systems of our body and
allow these systems to learn to cooperate with each other. To practice in the morning awakens us
quickly and gives us vitality. This sequence also cleanses our body. We might feel uncomfortable when
the body has too many toxins.
Hatha Yoga - Set Series 91

Chandra Namaskār (Moon Salutation)

Guidelines:
Including the left and right side. When we do the right side, move the right leg first. When we do the
left side, move the left leg first. In this way one won’t be confused. Breathe naturally while practicing
this sequence.

1) Palms together.
2) Arms up overhead.
3) Lean to the right.
4) Back to centre.
5) Lean to the left.
6) Back to Centre.
7) Right foot to the side into Goddess.
8) Extend arms and legs.

9) Lean to the right.


10) Turn to the right and fold forward.
11) Right knee bent and extend left leg.

12) Turn the torso to face the front.


13) Bring the left leg back to centre.
14) Extend right leg.

15) Turn torso to the left.


16) Extend left leg and fold forward.
17) Sweep right arm up.

18) Back to centre and extend arms.


19) Goddess.
20) Lean to the right.
21) Back to centre.
22) Lean to the left.
23) Back to centre.
24) Repeat on the other side.

Effects:
We can see the revolving moon phase in this sequence. This sequence is good for people that find it
hard to relax. Sun Salutation is back and forth movement and Moon Salutation is side-way movement.
When practicing Sun & Moon Salutations together our body receives a full extension. Just as the Sun
gives us light at daytime, the Moon gives us vision at nighttime. These two series allow the Sun-Moon
energy to be balanced in the body.
92 A Complete Yoga Manual

Sutala Sūrya Namaskār (Kneeling Sun Salutation)

Guidelines:

Inhale and arms up. (Laṁ) Exhale and fold forward. (Vaṁ) Inhale and chest forward. (Raṁ)

Exhale and hips up. (Yaṁ) Inhale and knees down. (Haṁ) Exhale and hips towards heels. (āuṁ)

In Kids Yoga there are two Downward Facing Dog Pose and a Plank Pose in between.

OM Silence āuṁ Haṁ

Yaṁ Raṁ Vaṁ Laṁ

Paramahaṃsāsana (Swan Dive and Seated Sun Salutation)

There are two variations of Paramahaṁsāsana. One is practiced by standing, which is Swan Dive; the
other is by sitting, which is Seated Sun Salutation. The movement is from the pelvis for both variations.

Swan Dive Guideline:

Enhale Inhale Exhale Inhale Exhale Inhale Exhale


(Silence) (āuṁ) (Haṁ) (Yaṁ) (Raṁ) (Vaṁ) (Laṁ)

Seated Sun Salutation Guideline:

Exhale(Laṁ) Inhale(Vaṁ) Exhale(Raṁ) Inhale(Yaṁ) Exhale(Haṁ) Inhale(āuṁ) Exhale(Silence)

Effects:
The regular Sun Salutation requires hips flexibility. All above sequences can be regarded as alternative
Sun Salutations and are suitable for most people. As the body moves up and down like the flow of water,
the breath flows smoothly and naturally in and out. It is great to experience the harmony between
movement and breath. One can also practice with the bīja mantras. This can be repeated as many times
as you like.
Tantra Yoga and Partner Yoga 93

9. Tantra Yoga and Partner Yoga


Haṭha Yoga is a form of Yoga to let us know how to bring opposing qualities into harmony. “Ha” refers
to the moon, the feminine aspect; “ṭha” refers to the sun, the masculine aspect. The physical body and
subtle body form the feminine and masculine aspect of the Self. The subtle body needs the physical
body to express and the physical body needs the subtle body to guide and protect. They depend on each
other for existence and cannot be separated.
A family also needs a masculine side to be able to protect and support the child. Sometimes forcefulness
is needed so the child is kept on the right track. Also, a feminine side is needed to allow the child to be
comforted, to relax and rest. Tantra28 Yoga is a special form of Haṭha Yoga for householders to look for
happiness in daily life at home. Tantra means “the principal action in keeping up a family”; also means
“happiness”. Everyone is looking for happiness. Since the material and spiritual world share the same
universal principle, we can learn and practice how to deal with the relationships at home to attain
happiness.
It takes two to tango. Both male and female should be clear and have an agreement about what the
principal action in keeping up a family is; what the primary duty as a husband and wife is. What role and
responsibility a father and mother plays at home. When things happen, are there any memories that
can remind both sides of why they came together or do they just criticize the other half?
Through true love, we can certainly attain joy and happiness. The point is what is true love? Does love
mean to enjoy, and to receive or give pleasure to the one we love? Does love mean to control or give
freedom to the one we love? Does love mean no discipline or to guide the one we love with protection?
True love is selfless without any conditions. True love is not with conditions of politics, wealth or
education. The best example of true love is love from parents who give the child guided protection, and
freedom with discipline. By taking care of an innocent child the selfless parents experience joy and
happiness. These days more children are being taken care of by someone else other than parents even
when they are still babies. The natural arrangement is broken.
A family is supposed to be a haven for us to rest. Unfortunately, because of the intimate relationship
we forget the basic principles of relationships: tolerance and respect. Stress and tension comes from
accumulation of small acts. A lot of the time, family members are the ones for us to release negative
energy. Some are under the plea of love for sensuous enjoyment and abuse the trust. They build
happiness on the suffering of others. Family relationship, like any other relationship must be based on
tolerance and respect.
Partner Yoga can be the class setting for Tantra Yoga. Normally, we practice with someone that has a
relationship with us; our child, a friend or intimate partner. Practicing Yoga by oneself can be easy. We
choose the pace, slow or fast, hard or easy, we can just choose by ourselves. But practicing with a
partner can be more challenging. Choose some familiar poses and notice the differences when doing
the pose on our own and with a partner. Also notice the differences when practicing with other partners.
What feelings arise? Partner Yoga can help us expand the perspective and also help understand our
partner more deeply. We do not have to be quiet while practicing Partner Yoga as it is a time to share
our feelings and love. The names for Partner Yoga poses may be different than a regular class to create
a relaxed atmosphere. As Partner Yoga can be practiced by a parent and child, some of the names and
expressions of the poses reflect a child’s perspective.
The most important part of practicing with a partner is to find balance, not to look at the partner’s
weakness. Instead, we look for harmony between two living beings, regardless of the body height,
weight or shape. Simply share and enjoy the moment together with respect and love. Be playful and we
will find peace and happiness unfold for us. By communication and trust we give support to each other.
We can encourage with humour, but never criticize with pride.
94 A Complete Yoga Manual

Wishing Tree

Both in Tree Pose, side by side, inside arms together.

Can this tree satisfy all my wishes? I want lots of food to eat!

Hide and Seek

Both in Easy Pose, back to back, then twist. Stay and listen to the breathing
of your partner. Try to breathe in and out at the same time.

I am coming, where are you?

Sailing Boat

Both in Boat Pose, face to face, holding on to


each other’s wrists. Lift one leg up and then
the other leg up.

Let’s go sailing together. I won’t ask more than to be with you.

See-Saw

Both in Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose, back to


back. Then hold on each other’s wrists underneath, moving
back and forth.

Up and down. Which side should I sit on?

Snake Charmer

One partner in Cobra Pose, the other in Chair Pose. The partner in Chair Pose
holds on to the wrists of the partner in Cobra Pose.

The terrible cobra dance with the flute. Maybe I should learn how to play the
flute.

Golden Door

Both in Crescent Moon Pose, back to back, hold hands.

Let me see what is inside the door. Can the door be opened wider?
Tantra Yoga and Partner Yoga 95

Beaver Pond

Both in Wide-angle Seated forward bend Pose, face to face, hold hands. Move
forward and backward.

It is too dangerous to sail in the sea. Let’s play in the beaver pond.

Peaceful Warrior

Both in Warrior II Pose, back to back, palms together.

A-Ha, I can fight all over the world with support from my mommy.

Pyramid

Both in Pyramid Pose, back to back, hold on each other’s wrists.

It’s said that a pyramid is the stairs leading to heaven.

Crescent Moon

Both in Swaying Palm Tree Pose, back to back,


move side to side.

Hey, Daddy, I cannot grow as tall as you so soon


even if you pull me hard.
Let us sway separately. Two crescent moons form
a full moon.

Duet Dance

Both in Dancer Pose, stand side by side, inside arms together.

It is easier to dance along. Maybe a change in partners will be better?


96 A Complete Yoga Manual

Simply Wonderful

Both in Butterfly Pose, face to face, hold hands, move forward and
backward.

The moment a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly is wonderful.


It is hard to believe that the beautiful butterfly comes from an ugly
caterpillar.

Walk in the Sky

Both in Legs up Pose, legs against each other.

I prefer to walk on solid ground.

Cross Heart

Both in Warrior III Pose, looking down on the ground, touching


partner’s calf to keep balanced.

Even if we look in different directions, our hearts are together.

Supported Staff

Both in Staff Pose, back to back.

I know I am small. But I am my father’s support.

Sunbird

Both in Tiger Pose, side by


side, inside legs up, outside
arms up.

Where ever you go, don’t forget to bring ME with you.


Yoga: The Path to Know the Self 97

Part 8

Yoga: The Path to Know the Self

1. Spiritual Practice, Religion and Science


Yoga is a spiritual practice and the science of Self-realization, and like any other form of science needs
evidence to support it; evidence which is from individual direct experience. As this is about the Self, no
one can do the practice for others. Through personal practice and only through practice by oneself, can
doubt be cleared. Faith will come when we see the results of spiritual practice from previous generations
and the sumptuous spiritual wealth that has been handed down to us. A sincere spiritual practitioner
will follow the genuine teachings of pioneers, but will not imitate their activities. The new explorers’
experience will give us a clearer direction and at the same time create more treasure for the generations
to come.
Spiritual practice involves the soul and the Divine; this might be confused with religion. Actually, spiritual
practice and religion are quite different.
Spiritual practice respects an individual’s background and needs, instead of focusing on the collective
consciousness. Religion emphasizes believing; spiritual practice emphasizes the need for curiosity.
Religion requests to follow a procedure; spiritual practice requests the need to face reality in a practical
way. Religion likes to have a lot of people; a spiritual practitioner needs to be detached from the general
mass of people.
Spiritual practitioners are on a philosophical search for the Absolute Truth and know by this that they
might lose something in the material world. Spiritual practitioners know that believing in the Divine is
only the first step of the journey and the Divine helps those who help themselves. They never stop
walking. They are also clear that the journey can be lonely. The partner who walks with one’s self can
be only one’s own shadow.
Religion lets us know that the Divine exists, provides a place to connect and helps to establish a
relationship with Divine Presence. But religious activities cannot take the place of spiritual practice. The
one who takes part in religious activities might not understand the soul, but the one who has done
spiritual practice will realize the existence of soul and surrender to the Divine.
Both spiritual practice and religion ask for surrender. Religion suggests surrender to the invisible
powerful God. The spiritual practitioner knows the Divine can present destructive power by natural
disaster, but redemption is through human beings. They will surrender to the wise to understand the
Divinity of the Self. Surrender to the living wise, as the same immortal spirit will appear in a new form
again and again at a different time.
98 A Complete Yoga Manual

Meditation Practice: Japa


Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare

 Sit comfortably, repeat this mantra silently in the heart a certain amount of times.
 Whisper this mantra a certain amount of times.
 Chant loud a certain amount of times.
 Repeat these 3 steps.

This Maha mantra contains three words: Kṛṣṇa, Hare and Rāma. These words are meant to guide us
to understand living and dying, see our inner spiritual nature through wisdom, and direct us to
experience joy and happiness in daily life.
Kṛṣṇa means dark, black. Death is like a black hole that swallows everything. Some are attracted to
its mystery. Some are scared of it because of the deep dark unknown. Instead of letting death drag
us down, face it! Know about it! Kṛṣṇa is known as the original philosopher, the one who can see
that death happens everywhere, to anyone at any time; the one who knows how to face death with
knowledge and wisdom.
Hare addresses both Hari and Hara. Hari refers to the master of knowledge and wisdom (Brahmā)
and the preserver of spiritual wealth (Vishnu). Hara is the one who is able to destroy the lower nature
of the Self (Shiva), from whom spiritual nature is revealed.
Rāma is the perfect example of how to live in the real world, the one who fulfills duties with a heart
as wide as the world.
Consider: to know what to do when a fire happens, we will have a fire drill. To have a basic reaction
to an emergency, we learn First Aid. To know how to face to death, we study spiritual knowledge.
Even if there are a lot of people who love me, are around me when I die, it is ME that has to leave
everything I like to do and face death ALONE. It is ME who has to leave the people I love and face the
unknown world ALONE. Am I ready?
Spiritual practice is a useful tool for my SELF. Why not start the practice regularly like a fire drill? A
fire might not happen, but death will happen to everyone for sure. Why not prepare for it? How can
I prevent a painful death?

The Divine is omnipresent, omniscience and omnipotent. A spiritual practitioner sees that the
development of science always proves ancient wisdom. They can see the Supreme Controller in religion
as well as in science. In their eyes, religion and science are two sides of the Divine. They will absorb the
nutrients from both religion and science to understand the truth about life and death.

2. Place and Time


The place of action includes the body, mind and spirit as three layers. Everyone has different degrees of
activities with these layers. Yoga practice is to understand the activities of these layers and do our best
to bring the relationships of body, mind, and spirit into harmony at a suitable place and time. When we
fulfill duties and are detached from the results, free thinking with self-discipline action and an open
heart with wisdom, then we can see our Self clearer.
The soul and time are eternal. Eternal time consists of every single moment. Infinity
consists of the extension of numerous numbers. The invisible life force is visible through
the physical body, and the ever-existing soul is embodied by many temporary short lives.
Yoga: The Path to Know the Self 99

The subtle Divine spiritual heart dwells in the living human being’s heart. We like to have light to see;
we also like the night without light so we can sleep better. The perfection of Yoga relies on accepting
the incompleteness of our Self. Everything has two sides and these two sides need to be balanced.
Yoga is about relationships and how to bring body, mind and spirit relationships into harmony.
Through Hatha Yoga poses practice we learn to listen to the body and cultivate the relationship between
body and mind; through Sāṃkhya Yoga meditation we learn to listen to the voice of the soul and
cultivate the relationship between body and soul; through Bhakti Yoga service we connect with the
Super soul and cultivate the relationship between the Self and the Divine Presence. To study the
knowledge about these relationships we are practicing Jñāna Yoga, and to apply the knowledge in daily
life we are practicing Karma Yoga. Haṭha, Sāṃkhya, Bhakti, Jñāna and Karma Yoga, these different forms
of Yoga are like 5 fingers of a hand; together they lead us to find the divinity of our Self in the heart.
None of them can be neglected, and all of these forms of practice are meant to know our own strength
and weaknesses. Keep the strength and strengthen the weak parts. No one is able to be perfect so we
can always work towards perfection.
Hatha

Sāṃkhya Bhakti

Jñāna Karma

Tantra
(Special form of Haṭha)

From the moon, that has no life, we know how beautiful the earth is. From understanding death we
know how valuable life is. From the moment we are born we know everyone’s destination is death. The
journey itself is more important than the destination. Who am I? The answer is not important. What is
important, because of the question, we start a journey and experience. We see different sides of our
Self and know our Self more. We meet people and share the moment together. The experience is the
most precious wealth for the Self. Let Yoga be a journey for health and happiness; a journey in the heart
space to find the beauty of the Self. May we walk along in the softness of our own heart.
100

Epilogue

I believe in simplicity and directness. But most of the time we make a simple thing complex. When I
was young, to die meant to go to heaven and didn’t understand why I could not go to heaven at
once, but had to stay living to suffer. Death and the meaning of life has always been a consideration
in my mind.
In July 1998, my eldest sister died at the age of 31 when she traveled to “Tiger-leaping Gorge” in
China. Her death urged me to start a life for my Self instead of for others. A life for my Self even if it
could end in the next minute since life itself is fragile anyway.
In 2002 I met my Guru at a Kirtana. At the very first sight I was stuck. I had never met him before but
seemed I knew him for centuries. I didn’t realize that the purpose of my life started to unfold.
Time flies. I moved Canada with my husband Stewart and my son Chi in 2006 and enjoyed a simple
and quiet life in Kanata. But things happened. In April 2012, my niece passed away because of
cancer, at the age of 30. A bright person, surrounded by love in her most beautiful time of life, then
suddenly everything was gone with the wind. God forced me to face an unexpected unpredictable
death, again. Why couldn’t she be saved by modern advanced technology? I was in shock. I called
my Guru in China and told him about the death of my niece. His reaction surprised me. “It’s normal”.
Why could I not see the face of death like that? I had asked him to be my Guru and I learned
intensively about living and dying, about the soul, about eternity; to explore the world that is unseen;
the highest science - the science about the Self, from which one can know the Divine. This science
has been developing for thousands of years yet has been neglected by modern scientists.
Death is like the night. The night is the shadow of the day. Death is another form of existence; a
form which is covered by darkness. The roots of Yoga are the Vedas which means “true or sacred
knowledge”. Any sacred knowledge that is able to dispel the darkness about death is regarded as
Vedas. From ancient tales, legends, philosophical writings of different cultures we can see the same
light guiding us through the darkness. I always remember my first Yoga teacher -- Master Tan, who
had practiced Yoga for more than 70 years, told me that Yoga originated in the Himalaya Mountains,
and the art of Yoga (union) is known by a person who knows the Self.
The meaning of life is embodied in the search for meaning. The journey of searching is like climbing
a Himalaya Mountain and it is never easy. We will find out the strengths, and skills we have are so
insignificant on this journey. We have no choice but to surrender to the will of the Divine. A will that
is unknown to everyone. Being part of the Divine Play allows us to understand and experience the
mysterious and magical side of being.
Yoga is far more than physical exercise. It is beyond speculation. It is a direct experience of the soul.
In the space of Yoga, death and the purpose of living are not necessary to ponder over any further.
We just experience and feel. Feel the body, feel the heart and the connection and embrace the soul.
101

Notes

Books mentioned in the Notes are recommended for further study.

Part 1 Introduction
1. Sanskrit explanations and stories sources from:
1) B.K.S Iyengar, Light on Yoga. (Thorsons, 2001)
2) www.sanskritdictionary.com
3) Sir Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. (Nataraj Books, 2014)
2. From T.K.V.Desikachar’s, The Heart of Yoga: Developing a personal practice, pg.174.
(Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1995)
3. See more on Haṭha in T.K.V.Desikachar’s, The Heart of Yoga: Developing a personal practice,
pg.137-139, Haṭha, Kuṇḍalinī and Tantra yoga
Part 2 The Subtle Body
4. B.K.S Iyengar, Light on Prāṇāyāma: The yogic art of breathing, pg.282. (The Crossroad Publishing
Company, 2002)
5. T.K.V.Desikachar, The Heart of Yoga: Developing a personal practice, pg.239.
6. Gary Kraftsow, Yoga for Wellness: Healing with the timeless teachings of Viniyoga, pg.328.
(Penguin Compass, 1999)
7. Sri T. Krishnamacharya, Yoga Makaranda (The Essence of Yoga). Part I, pg.13 and Part II, pg.81.
(From http://grimmly2007.blogspot.ca/, Krishnamacharya’s original Ashtanga Yoga blog)
8. See more information about Neti Neti in Swami Vishnu Devananda’s book Meditation and
Mantras, pg.119. (Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1978)
Part 3 Saṃkhya Yoga and Meditation
9. See more details about Trāṭaka in Sri Swami Sivananda’s, Kundalini Yoga, pg.123-127. (The Divine
Life Society, 2013)
10. Sri T. Krishnamacharya, Yoga Makaranda. Part II, pg.13.
11. T.K.V.Desikachar, The Heart of Yoga, pg.72
12. B. K. S Iyengar in his book Light on the Yoga Sūtras of of Patañjali, pg.178-182 (Thorsons, 1993)
explains dhāraṇā, dhyāna, samādhi and saṁyama as:
“Fixing the consciousness on one point or region is concentration (dhāraṇā). A steady,
continuous flow of attention directed towards the same point or region is meditation
(dhyāna). When the object of meditation engulfs the meditation, appearing as the subject,
self-awareness is lost. This is samādhi. These three together - dhāraṇā, dhyāna, samādhi -
constitute integration or saṁyama.”
13. Kurukṣetra (the field of kurus) is named after King Kuru of the Bharata Dynasty. According to Sir
Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Kurukṣetras are the inhabitants of the
country Kuru and Kuru is a country beyond the most northern range of the Himālaya, often
described as a country of everlasting happiness. Kuru-kṣetra is also known as dharma-kṣetra (the
field of dharma).
102

14. See details about Anuloma Viloma Pranayama in Swami Vishnu-devananda’s, The Complete
Illustrated Book of Yoga, pg.241-245. (Three Rivers Press, 1988). A typical Sivananda Yoga class will
include Pranayama and chanting.
Part 5 Bhakti Yoga and Sound Vibration
15. B.K.S Iyengar, Light on Yoga, pg.28-29 has a detailed explanation about āuṁ. (Thorsons, 2001)
16. Jonathan Goldman, in Shifting Frequencies introduces how to use sound and other modalities to
change vibrational patterns for both personal and planetary healing and transformation. (Light
Technology publishing, 1998)
17. Know more information about nāda and mantras in Russill Paul’s book The Yoga of Sound:
Healing & enlightenment through the sacred practice of mantra. (New World Library, Novato,
California, 2004)
18. Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, has details about this mantra in Appendix
4, pg.393-396. (Harper SanFrancisco, 1994)
19. Mantra and meaning from Robert Gass and On Wings of Song, CD Kirtana. (Spring Hill Music LLC)
20. For more about Sanskrit please see Katyayani Poole, Sanskrit for Yogis. (Trafford Publishing, 2006)
21. Robert Gass, Chanting -- Discovering spirit in sound, pg.10. (Broadway Books, 2000)
Part 6 Jñāna Yoga and Acquiring Knowledge
22. In Kirtan - Sivananda Book of Chant (Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, 2014) tells a story about
how Swami Sivananda presents by example what humility is:
“Swami Sivananda was walking up the stairs and, as is the custom, people were
prostrating to the saint. The young army officer (later to become Swami Vishnudevananda)
did not want to bow his head to anyone. He therefore hid in a doorway so that no one
would see him. A moment later, Swami Sivananda appeared unexpectedly and prostrated
to the arrogant young man. This was a great lesson in humility, the first lesson given to
Swami Vishnudevananda by his Guru.”
23. Krishna Das, CD Heart as Wide as the World. (Nutone Records, 2010)
24. Images of the nervous system from Family Medical Guide, Chapter 7, The Nervous System, by
Lewis J. Doshay, M.D. (Better Homes and Gardens Books, 1975)
Part 7 Hatha Yoga and Āsanas
25. B.K.S Iyengar, Light on Yoga, pg.40 Technique 5 says: “Ideally in Tāḍāsana the arms are stretched
out over the head.” (Thorsons, 2001)
26. The state of mind will affect posture practice. Swami Sivananda Radha, Hatha Yoga: The Hidden
Language, (Timeless Books, 2003) pg.67-69, describes the Seated Back Stretching Pose as follows:
“Surrender is the important lesson that the asana teaches … It is coming down to the
ground, to the earth, that makes, not for the ending of life, but for a beginning. That
deliberate action of surrender is the beginning of movement without and within,
movement by which one advances on the Path.”
27. For more information on Astanga Yoga please see Jean Hall and Doriel Hall, Astanga Yoga &
Meditation. (Anness Publishing Ltd, 2006)
28. Mark Stephens, Teaching Yoga -- Essential foundations and techniques, pg.13-16 has a brief
introduction on Tantra. (North Atlantic Books, 2010)
103

Index

Āsana Stories Mantra, 26, 43, 44, 45, 48, 98


Monkey god, 17
Meditation
Happy baby, 27
So’ham -- Who am I, 5
Warriors, 28
Visualization -- Earth and Tree, 12
Turtle (Maintenance), 49
Neti Neti -- Who am I, 21
Aṣṭāṅga (Astanga) Yoga, 2, 3, 16, 52, 89 Counting, 23
Mantra, 26
Bandha, 9-10, 65, 87, 88, 89 Trāṭaka, 28
Bhagavad-gītā, 2, 24, 26, 27, 34, 40, 47 Śri Yantra, 30
Kumbhaka Prāṇāyāma, 32
Brahma (Brahmā), 6, 19, 30, 39, 45, 50, 88, 98 Haṃsā -- Who am I, 33
Cleansing, 6, 19, 24, 28, 35, 39 So’ham - Haṃsā - So’ham / Who am I, 36
Chanting OM, 42
Death Toning the chakras, 43
Emerge from the repetitions of, 1 Bija mantras for the eight chakras, 44
Different forms of existence, 5 Kirtana, 45
Root cause of stress, 12 Chant the mantra, 48
How to deal with, 23 Japa, 26, 98
Comes without notice, 25 Mudrā, 3, 6, 7- 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19,
The skill used in the war causes, 27 20, 31, 37, 42, 65, 87, 88, 89
Process of, 30
Journey after, 31 Nervous System, 5, 6, 16, 17, 19, 30, 35, 46, 51
As a solution, 32
Prāṇāyāma
Conquest of, 35
Definition of, 3, 4
Deal with, 37
Nadi cleansing breath, 6
Learning about, 40
Three part breath, 7, 9
Is like a black hole, 98
Ujjay breath, 16
Everyone’s destination is, 99
Skull shining breath, 19
Bumble bee breath, 31
Happiness
Breath retention, 32
For well-being and, 1, 2
Even breath, 34
Sukha means, 3
Alternate nostril breathing, 35
In the material world, 16
Breath of joy, 42
Live for, 18
Concept of, 22 Prenatal, 54, 56, 59, 60, 63, 71, 84, 85, 86, 89
Through wisdom, 34
Looking for happiness, 46 Rāma (Rama), 2, 17, 28, 34, 41, 45, 98
Tantra means, 93 Śiva (Shiva), 9, 15, 16, 24, 25, 28, 35, 41, 45,
Experience joy and, 98 50, 52, 98
Journey for health and, 99
Viṣṇu (Vishnu), 17, 18, 33, 45, 49, 79, 98
Hari, 34, 45, 48, 98
Wave, 21, 22, 26, 32, 42
Haṭha (Hatha), 2, 3, 9, 14, 50, 51, 52, 93, 99
Yoga
Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, 3, 19, 28, 33, 42, 48,
Definition of, 1
87, 88, 89
Is the ability to direct the mind, 22
Kids Yoga, 63, 69, 72, 81, 86, 89, 92 This equanimity is called, 40
The path to know the Self, 97
Kṛṣṇa (Krishna), 19, 24, 28, 29, 34, 41, 45, 50,
52, 74, 98 Yoga Sūtra, 2, 22, 33, 35, 40, 50, 52
Dedication

To my first Yoga Teacher

Master Run Hua Tan