More about Satyananda Yoga Practices
Asana (physical postures). “Asana” means “to be steady and comfortable”. Since ancient times, asanas have been practiced to open energy channels and centres and to develop the ability to sit comfortably for an extended time, as necessary for meditation. Today asanas are acknowledged as being techniques which place the physical body in positions that cultivate awareness, relaxation, concentration and meditation. An important part of this process is the development of good physical health by stretching, massaging and stimulating the body. Asanas work on both the body and mind. They teach us about our physical nature, release physical stress and bring about comfort and balance to body and mind. Asanas are practiced in a quiet and non-competitive manner.
Pranayama (breathing practices). “Prana” means ‘vital energy’ or ‘life force’. “Pranyama”, generally defined as breath control, means to expand the vital energy of the body. These practices balance the body and mind, raise vitality and bring peace and clarity. They are the preparatory practices for awakening the chakras (energy centres).
Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep). Yoga Nidra is a technique where the distractions of the mind are contained and the mind is allowed to relax. It is a systematic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation - a state of dynamic sleep where one remains aware. The body appears to be asleep, but the consciousness functions at a deeper level of awareness having profound effects.
Mudras & Bandhas
Mudras & Bandhas (attitudes and locks). Mudras are gestures that have various positive effects on attitude, awareness and concentration. Bandhas are muscle locks which act on knots of energy, releasing prana.
Mantra (sound vibration). Special sounds which affect the body. The best known is AUM, or Om.
Shatkarmas (cleansing practices). A series of cleansing practices are available for those beginning advanced practices.
There are many active and passive meditative techniques which take our consciousness inwards through the different layers of the mind. The term includes the practices of Pratyahara (stilling the mind), Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation), all of which have different levels and stages of practice. Some common Satyananda Yoga meditation techniques include: Antar Mouna which leads to control of thought processes; Ajapa Japa is the repetition, with breath awareness, of a mantra along a psychic passage; Trataka is the gazing at a single point (e.g. a candle flame) to induce relaxation and concentration of mind.