Yogasanas
Meditation Asanas
September 1, 2016
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Anger and Depression
September 5, 2016

Vajrasana for Healing

1 vajrasana
  • 6 veerasana

    Veerasana (hero’s pose) 6

    Veerasana (hero’s pose):-

    Sit in vajrasana.

    Raise the right knee and place the right foot flat on the floor beside the inside of the left knee.

    Put the right elbow on the right knee and rest the chin on the palm of the right hand.

    Close the eyes and relax.

    Keep the body completely motionless and the spine and head straight.

    Repeat with the left foot placed beside the right knee.

    Breathing:

    Slow, deep breathing, imagining that the breath is flowing in and out of bhrumadhya, the eyebrow centre.

    Duration:

    Practise for a minimum of two minutes. Repeat on the other side with the left elbow on the left knee.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on keeping the head and spine straight and on the breath.
    Spiritual – on ajna chakra.

    Benefits:

    This asana balances the mind, increases the power of concentration, allows more awareness of the unconscious realms and induces physical and mental relaxation quickly. The thinking process becomes very clear and precise. It is useful for those who think too much or who have disturbed or uncontrollable thoughts. It is very good for the kidneys, liver, reproductive and abdominal organs.

    Note:

    This posture is also known as the thinker’s or philosopher’s pose.

    Variation I:

    This asana may also be practised by sitting on the heel so that it stimulates mooladhara chakra.

    Variation 2:

    Sit on the heels in vajrasana.

    Place the right foot on top of the left thigh as in the half lotus posture.

    The foot should come up on the thigh as near to the lower abdomen as possible and the right knee should rest on the floor.

    Place the palms together in front of the chest at the heart centre, in the prayer position.

    Relax the whole body.

    Slowly rise onto the knees, using the left leg as a lever and the right knee as a support.

    The movement should be controlled without any jerking.

    Straighten the spine.

    When balanced, raise the hands above the head, keeping the palms together and the fingers pointing upward.

    Hold the final position for as long as is comfortable.

    Bring the hands back to the heart centre and gently and evenly lower the body down to the floor.

    Repeat with the left foot on top of the right thigh.

    Practise up to 3 times on each side.
    Breathing:

    Inhale while raising the body from the floor.

    Breathe normally in the final position.

    Exhale while lowering the body.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on maintaining balance and steadiness in the upright position.

    Spiritual – on swadhisthana chakra.

    Contra-indications:

    This asana should not be performed by people with weakness in the knees or inflammatory conditions
    such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, etc.

    Benefits:

    This is a preliminary balancing pose which aids in stabilising the nervous system.

  • 5 simhagarjanasana

    Simhagarjanasana (roaring lion pose) 5

    Simhagarjanasana (roaring lion pose):-

    Sit in vajrasana with the knees about 45 cm apart. If possible, face the sun.

    Place the palms of the hands on the floor between the knees, with the fingers pointing towards the body.

    Lean forward, resting the body on the straight arms.

    Arch the back and gently tilt the head back so that there is a comfortable amount of tension in the neck.

    Open the eyes and gaze at the eyebrow centre, adopting shambhavi mudra (refer to section on mudra).

    Relax the whole body.

    Keep the mouth closed.

    Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose.

    At the end of inhalation open the mouth and extend the tongue out as far as possible towards the chin.

    While slowly exhaling, produce a clear, steady ‘aaah’ sound from the throat, keeping the mouth wide open.

    At the end of exhalation, close the mouth and breathe in.

    This is one round.

    Breathing:

    Inhale slowly through the nose and then slowly

    exhale through the mouth with the ‘aaah’ sound.

    Duration:

    To maintain general health, practise 5 rounds daily.

    For specific ailments, practise 10 to 20 rounds.

    The eyes, tongue and mouth may be relaxed for a few moments between each round. This asana may be
    performed at any time.

    Awareness:

    Physical-while inhaling, on the breath. While exhaling, on the sound produced and the effect on the
    throat area.

    Spiritual – on vishuddhi or ajna chakra.

    Benefits:

    This is an excellent asana for alleviating diseases of the throat, nose, ears, eyes and mouth. Tension is removed from the chest and diaphragm. Simhagarjanasana is useful for people who stutter or who are nervous and introverted. It develops a strong and beautiful voice.

    Other benefits are as for shambhavi mudra.

    Variation I:

    After performing shambhavi mudra, perform kechari mudra. Keep the mouth closed. Fold the tongue
    backward so that the tip and underside presses against the soft palate.

    Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose.

    At the end of inhalation, release the tongue, open the mouth and extend the tongue as far as possible.

    Variation 2:

    Move the tongue slowly from side to side, while making a long ‘aaah’ sound.

  • 4 bhadrasana

    Bhadrasana (gracious pose) 4

    Bhadrasana (gracious pose):-

    Sit in vajrasana.

    Separate the knees as far as possible, while keeping the toes in contact with the floor.

    Separate the feet just enough to allow the buttocks and perineum to rest flat on the floor between the feet.

    Try to separate the knees further but do not strain.

    Place the hands on the knees, palms downward.

    When the body is comfortable, practise nasikagra drishti, concentration on the nose tip. As the eyes become tired, close them for a short time and then resume nose tip gazing.

    Breathing:

    Slow and rhythmic with awareness of the breath at the nose tip.

    Duration:

    For extended periods of time if performed for spiritual aims.

    A few minutes daily is sufficient to loosen up the legs.

    If any strain is experienced, stop the asana.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the natural breath or the nose tip.

    Spiritual – on mooladhara chakra.

    Benefits:

    This is predominantly a pose for spiritual aspirants as it has a stimulating influence on mooladhara chakra. It is an excellent meditation pose. The benefits are basically the same as for vajrasana.

    Practice note:

    If necessary, a folded blanket may be placed under the buttocks. Whether a blanket is used or not, it is
    important that the buttocks rest firmly on the ground in order to stimulate mooladhara chakra.

  • 3 padadhirasana

    Padadhirasana (breath balancing pose) 3

    Padadhirasana (breath balancing pose):-

    Sit in vajrasana.

    Cross the arms in front of the chest, placing the hands under the opposite armpits with the thumbs pointing upward.

    The point between the thumb and first finger should be firmly pressed.

    Close the eyes and become aware of the breathing process.

    Breathing: 

    Slow, deep and rhythmical. Practise until the flow of breath in both nostrils becomes equalised.

    Duration:

    To prepare for pranayama, practise for 5 to 10 minutes.
    For spiritual purposes, practise for extended periods of time.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the breathing process in the nose.
    Spiritual – on ajna chakra.

    Practice note:

    Padadhirasana may be used as a preparation for pranayama. It is specially useful when one or both
    nostrils are blocked.

    If only one nostril is blocked, or partially blocked, place the hand of that side underneath the opposite armpit.

    Maintain the pressure for a minute or two, although changes may sometimes occur within a few seconds.

    Variation I:

    For a stronger effect, make fists of the hands and place them under the armpits.

    Variation 2:

    Yoga Danda (balancing stick)

    The yoga danda is a special T-shaped stick traditionally used by yogis as an aid to meditation. The horizontal beam rests firmly under and supports the armpit with the bottom of the vertical stick on the ground. When the breath flow is equalised, the danda may be placed in front of the body. Both elbows may be rested on the horizontal beam with the arms folded or in any other position. The yoga danda may be used for long periods of time without the arms becoming tired.

    Benefits:

    The pressure under both the armpits helps to open the nostrils to facilitate the practice of pranayama. Since the breath flow in the right and left nostrils influences the activities of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems respectively, opening of the two nostrils induces a state of autonomic balance.

  • 2 ananda madirasana

    Ananda Madirasana (intoxicating bliss pose) 2

    Ananda Madirasana (intoxicating bliss pose):-

    Sit in vajrasana. Place the palms on top of the heels so that the fingers are pointing towards each other. If this is uncomfortable, place the palms just above the heels. Keep the head and spine erect, close the eyes and relax the whole body.

    Fix the attention at bhrumadhya, the eyebrow centre.

    Breathing:

    Slow and deep. Imagine that the breath is moving in and out of the eyebrow centre. Inhale from the eyebrow centre to ajna chakra and exhale from ajna to the eyebrow centre.

    Awareness:

    Physical – in the early stages of the practice, awareness should be on the breathing process. When sufficient relaxation has been achieved, awareness may be transferred to the eyebrow centre.
    Spiritual – on ajna chakra.

    Benefits:

    This asana is used primarily to awaken ajna chakra.

    It also calms the mind, relaxes the nervous system and gives all the benefits of vajrasana.

    Note:

    The thumbs may press any points on the soles according to specific effects required in the body. For exact details, seek the advice of someone with knowledge of either acupuncture or reflexology.

    Ananda madirasana may also be performed as an alternative to classical meditation postures.

  • 12 ardha suhtrasana

    Ardha Ushtrasana (half camel pose) 12

    Ardha Ushtrasana (half camel pose):-

    Sit in vajrasana with the knees apart and the ankles at the side of the buttocks.

    Stand up on the knees with the arms at the sides.

    Keep the feet flat behind the body.

    While inhaling, stretch the arms sideways and raise them to shoulder level.

    Then, while exhaling, twist to the right, reach back with the right hand and try to hold the left heel or ankle.

    Simultaneously, stretch the left arm in front of the head so that the hand is at eyebrow level.

    The head should be slightly back with the eyes gazing at the raised hand.

    Push the abdomen forward in the final position and try to keep the thighs vertical.

    Hold this position while holding the breath for a few seconds and retaining the gaze on the left hand.

    Inhale and return to the starting position.

    Repeat on the other side to complete one round, holding the right heel with the left hand.

    Practise 3 to 5 rounds.

    Do not strain in any way.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the stretch in the back and neck, or on the normal breath if holding longer.

    Spiritual – on anahata or vishuddhi chakra.

    Benefits:

    As given for ushtrasana but at a reduced level.

    Variation I:

    The final position may be held for 1 to 2 minutes whilst breathing normally, as long as there is no strain
    experienced.

    Variation 2: This is the same as the basic asana

    This is the same as the basic asana except the breathing changes. Inhale and come into the final position,
    hold the internal breath retention for a few seconds and then exhale while returning to the upright position.

    This is repeated in the same manner on the other side.

    This variation accentuates the effect on the abdomen whereas the basic asana accentuates the effect on the spine.

    Variation 3:

    A simpler variation for beginners is to place the right hand on the right heel and the left hand on the left
    heel. This posture also becomes easier if the heels are raised.

    Variation 4:

    After twisting, the outstretched arm may be raised above the head to a vertical position. The head should be held back with the eyes gazing at the raised hand.

  • 11 pranamasana

    Pranamasana (bowing pose) 11

    Pranamasana (bowing pose)

    Sit in vajrasana. Grasp the lower calves just above the ankles, keeping the thumbs uppermost.

    Slowly bend forward and place the crown of the head on the floor in front of the knees. (Place a small folded blanket under the head).

    Raise the buttocks as high as possible, allowing the chin to press against the chest, until the thighs are as vertical as comfortable.

    Remain in the final position for 5 to 20 seconds.

    Lower the buttocks and come back into shashankasana for a short time before returning to vajrasana.

    Practise this asana 5 times.

    Breathing:

    Inhale in vajrasana and while raising the buttocks.

    Exhale while lowering the head to the floor.

    Hold the breath in the final position or breathe normally if remaining in the position for more than a few seconds.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the synchronisation of breathing with the physical movement, the increased blood flow to the brain or on the crown of the head in the final position.

    Spiritual – on sahasrara chakra.

    Contra-indications:

    Not to be performed by people with vertigo, weak neck or high blood pressure.

    Benefits:

    This asana increases the blood supply to the head. As a preparatory practice for sirshasana, the headstand pose, it allows the brain to gradually adapt to the extra blood flow and pressure in the head when the body is inverted. It gives many of the benefits of sirshasana but to a lesser degree. Pranamasana is especially beneficial for the management of asthma. It promotes drainage of the lungs and chest and helps to open the air passages. It also decompresses the lower cervical and upper thoracic
    vertebrae and nerve roots which are often the seat of psycho-emotional tension in an asthma attack. It should be performed at the immediate onset of an asthma attack to obtain full benefits.

  • 10 shashank bhujangasana

    Shashank Bhujangasana (striking cobra pose) 10

    Shashank Bhujangasana (striking cobra pose):-

    Assume marjari-asana, placing the palms flat on the floor beneath the shoulders about half a metre apart.

    Move into shashankasana with the arms outstretched in front of the shoulders.

    Then, without moving the position of the hands, slowly move the chest forward, sliding it just above the floor until it is in line with the hands.

    Move the chest further forward and then upward, as the arms straighten, and lower the pelvis to the floor.

    Ideally, the nose and chest should just brush the surface of the floor as the body moves forward like the movement of a snake. Do not strain to achieve this.

    Try to bring the hips as near to the floor as possible.

    In the final position, the arms should be straight, the back arched and the head raised as in bhujangasana. The navel does not touch the floor.

    Hold this position for a few seconds, retaining the breath.

    Slowly raise the buttocks and move backwards, keeping the arms straight, returning to shashankasana.

    Do not try to reverse the previous movement but keep the arms straight.

    This is one round.

    Relax the whole body for a short time before starting another round.

    Practise 5 to 7 rounds.

    Breathing:

    Inhale on the forward movement.

    Hold the breath for a few seconds in the final position.

    Exhale while returning to shashankasana.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on synchronising the movement with the breath.

    Spiritual – on swadhisthana chakra.

    Sequence:

    This asana may be practised directly after shashankasana and followed by tadasana.

    Benefits:

    Shashank bhujangasana gives similar benefits to bhujangasana and shashankasana. However, the benefits of the latter postures come from maintaining the final position, whereas shashank bhujangasana acts mainly by alternately flexing the spine backward and forward.

    This asana gently tones the female reproductive organs, alleviates menstrual disorders and is an excellent postnatal asana, strengthening and tightening the abdominal and pelvic region. It tones and improves the functioning of the liver, kidneys and other visceral organs. It is particularly useful for relieving back pain and general stiffness of the spine as it helps to stimulate and balance all the spinal nerves.

    Practice note:

    The hand position should not change throughout the entire practice.

  • 9 shashankasana

    Shashankasana (pose of the moon or hare pose) 9

    Shashankasana (pose of the moon or hare pose)
    Sit in vajrasana, placing the palms on the thighs just above the knees.

    Close the eyes and relax, keeping the spine and head straight.

    While inhaling, raise the arms above the head, keeping them straight and shoulder width apart.

    Exhale while bending the trunk forward from the hips, keeping the arms and head straight and in line with the trunk.

    At the end of the movement, the hands and forehead should rest on the floor in front of the knees.

    If possible, the arms and forehead should touch the floor at the same time.

    Bend the arms slightly so that they are fully relaxed and let the elbows rest on the floor.

    Retain the breath for up to 5 seconds in the final position.

    Then, simultaneously inhale and slowly raise the arms and trunk to the vertical position. Keep the arms and head in line with the trunk.

    Breathe out while lowering the arms to the knees.

    This is one round.

    Practise 3 to 5 rounds.

    Duration:

    Beginners should slowly increase the length of time in the final position until they are able to hold it comfortably for at least 3 minutes. Those who wish to calm anger and frayed nerves should further increase the time to 10 minutes, breathing normally.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the breath synchronised with the physical movement. In the final position, on the pressure
    of the abdomen against the thighs.

    Spiritual – on manipura or swadhisthana chakra in the final position.

    Contra-indications:

    Not to be performed by people with very high blood pressure, slipped disc or those who suffer from vertigo.

    Benefits:

    This asana stretches the back muscles and separates the individual vertebrae from each other, releasing pressure on the discs. Often nerve connections emanating from the spinal cord are squeezed by these discs, giving rise to various forms of backache. This posture helps to relieve this problem and encourages the discs to resume their correct position. It also regulates the functioning of the adrenal glands. It tones the pelvic muscles and the sciatic nerves and is beneficial for women who have an underdeveloped pelvis. It helps to alleviate disorders of both the male and female reproductive organs. Regular practice relieves constipation. When practised with ujjayi pranayama in the final position, it helps to eliminate anger and is very cooling for the brain.

    Note:

    The Sanskrit word shashank means moon’. It is derived from two words: shash meaning ‘hare’ and ank meaning ‘lap’. People in India have seen the dark patches on the full moon as resembling the shape of a hare with the moon in its lap. Furthermore, the moon symbolises peace and calm; it emits soothing and tranquil- Using vibrations. Shashankasana has a similar calming and cooling effect. More simply, it is the position frequently adopted by hares and rabbits.

    Variation I:

    Sit in vajrasana and close the eyes.

    Hold the right wrist with the left hand behind the back.

    Relax the whole body and close the eyes.

    Inhale and then, while exhaling, slowly bend the trunk forward from the hips so that the forehead rests on the floor. Remain in the final position for a comfortable length of time while breathing normally or deeply or in ujjayi.

    Return to the starting position while inhaling.

    Variation 2:

    Sit in vajrasana.

    Place the fists in front of the lower abdomen.

    Inhale and then, while exhaling, slowly bend forward until the forehead touches the floor.

    The fists will exert pressure on the lower abdominal organs.

    Retain the breath in the final position for as long as is comfortable.

    Inhale while raising the trunk and head.

    Practise 2 to 3 rounds.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the pressure of the fists in the abdomen in the final position.

    Benefits:

    This variation massages and improves the efficiency of the intestines and digestive organs, relieving ailments such as constipation and excessive wind in addition to the benefits derived from the basic form of the practice.

    Variation 3:

    Sit in vajrasana.

    Interlock the fingers of both hands behind the back.

    Breathe in deeply. Then, breathing out, move the head and trunk forward and rest the head on the floor.
    Simultaneously, raise the arms up and bring them as far forward as possible.

    Hold the breath out and slowly move the arms from side to side 3 times. Do not strain.

    Breathe in, raising the head and trunk and lowering the arms.

    This is one round.

    Practise 2 to 3 rounds.

    Benefits:

    This variation releases tension in the upper back and neck muscles, bringing great relief to those who experience stiffness in this area. It also gives the benefits of the basic practice.

  • 8 vyaghrasana

    Vyaghrasana (tiger pose) 8

    Vyaghrasana (tiger pose):-

    Assume vajrasana.

    Move into marjari-asana and look forward.

    The hands should be placed directly below the shoulders.

    Relax the whole body.

    Straighten the right leg, stretching it up and back.

    Bend the right knee and point the toes towards the head.

    Look up and try to touch the toes to the back of the head.

    Hold the breath for a few seconds in this position.

    Straighten the right leg, bend the knee and swing the leg under the hips.

    Simultaneously, arch the backup and bend the head down.

    The right foot should not touch the floor.

    Press the knee against the chest and touch the nose to the knee. The spine should be convex.

    Fix the eyes on the knee for a few seconds while retaining the breath outside.

    Move the foot straight back and again stretch the leg.

    Bend the knee and continue with the slow swinging movements.

    Repeat with the other leg.

    Breathing:

    Inhale while stretching the leg backward.

    Retain while bending the knee.

    Exhale while swinging the knee to the chest.

    Duration:

    Perform this asana 5 times with each leg.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the movement synchronised with the breath.

    Spiritual – on swadhisthana chakra.

    Benefits:

    This asana exercises and loosens the back by bending it alternately in both directions and tones the spinal nerves. It relaxes the sciatic nerves, relieving sciatica, and loosens up the legs. It tones the female reproductive organs and is especially beneficial for women after childbirth and those who have given birth to many children. It stretches the abdominal muscles, promotes digestion and stimulates blood circulation. Reduces weight from the hips and thighs.

    Note:

    This asana is so called because it emulates the stretching movement made by a tiger as it wakes up from deep sleep.

  • 14 supta vajrasana

    Supta Vajrasana (sleeping thunderbolt pose) 14

    Supta Vajrasana (sleeping thunderbolt pose):-

    Sit in vajrasana. Slowly bend back, taking the support of first the right elbow and arm and then the left.

    Bring the top of the head to the ground, arching the back.

    Place the hands on the thighs.

    Try to keep the knees in contact with the floor. If necessary, separate the knees. Care should be taken not to strain the muscles and ligaments of the thighs and knees by forcing the knees to touch the ground in the final position.

    Close the eyes and relax the body.

    Breathe deeply and slowly in the final position.

    Return to the starting position in the reverse order, breathing in and taking the support of the elbows and arms. Never leave the final position by straightening the legs first; this may dislocate the knee joints.
    Return to vajrasana first and then straighten the legs.

    Breathing:

    Deep and slow.

    Duration:

    For physical benefits, up to one minute is sufficient.

    For spiritual benefits, practise for longer periods.

    Beginners should start with only a few seconds in the final position, increasing the duration slowly.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the lower back, abdomen or breath.

    Spiritual – on swadhisthana, anahata or vishuddhi chakra.

    Sequence:

    Follow supta vajrasana with a forward bending asana.

    Contra-indications:

    This posture should not be practised by people suffering from sciatica, slipped disc, sacral ailments  or knee complaints.

    Benefits:

    This asana massages the abdominal organs alleviating digestive ailments and constipation. It tones the spinal nerves, makes the back flexible and realigns rounded shoulders. The nerves in the neck and the thyroid gland are particularly influenced. The chest is stretched and expanded to full capacity, filling the lungs and bringing more oxygen into the system. It is beneficial for those suffering from asthma, bronchitis and other lung ailments.

    It loosens up the legs in preparation for sitting in meditation asanas. It enhances creativity and intelligence and redirects sexual energy to the brain for spiritual purposes.

    Note:

    The Sanskrit word supta means ‘sleeping’ and vajra refers to the nerve and energy pathway which connects the sexual organs to the brain.

     

    14 supta vajrasana 2

     

    Variation:

    This method is the same as described for the basic form, except that the back of the head, instead of the top, is placed on the floor in the final position.

    Join the hands together and place them under the back of the head, or fold the arms comfortably above the head.

    Try to keep the knees on the ground.

    Close the eyes and relax the whole body.

    Breathing:

    Deep and slow in the final position.

    Benefits:

    This is an important variation which intensifies the stretch of the abdominal region.

    Practice note:

    The basic form and the variation may be performed one after the other, spending half the time in each
    pose.

  • 1 vajrasana

    Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose) 1

    Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose):-

    Kneel on the floor.

    Bring the big toes together and separate the heels.

    Lower the buttocks onto the inside surface of the feet with the heels touching the sides of the hips.

    Place the hands on the knees, palms down.

    The back and head should be straight but not tense.

    Avoid excessive backward arching of the spine.

    Close the eyes, relax the arms and the whole body.

    Breathe normally and fix the attention on the flow of air passing in and out of the nostrils.

    Duration:

    Practise vajrasana as much as possible, especially directly after meals, for at least 5 minutes to enhance the digestive function. In cases of acute digestive disorder, sit in vajrasana and practise abdominal breathing for 100 breaths before and after food.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the normal breathing process. This will bring tranquillity to the mind if practised with the eyes closed.
    Spiritual – on manipura chakra.

    Benefits:

    Vajrasana alters the flow of blood and nervous impulses in the pelvic region and strengthens the pelvic  muscles.  It is a preventative measure against hernia and also helps to relieve piles. It increases the efficiency of the entire digestive system, relieving stomach ailments such as hyperacidity and peptic ulcer. It reduces the blood flow to the genitals and massages the nerve fibres which feed them, making it useful in the treatment of dilated testicles and hydrocele in men. It assists women in labour and helps alleviate menstrual disorders.

    Vajrasana is a very important meditation posture because the body becomes upright and straight with no effort. It is the best meditation asana for people suffering from sciatica and sacral infections. It stimulates the vajra nadi, activates prana in sushumna and redirects sexual energy to the brain for spiritual purposes.

    Practice note:

    If there is pain in the thighs, the knees may be separated slightly while maintaining the posture.

    Beginners may find that their ankles ache after a short time in vajrasana. To remedy this, release the posture, sit with the legs stretched forward and shake the feet vigorously one after the other until the stiffness disappears.

    Then resume the posture. A folded blanket or small cushion may be placed between the buttocks and the heels for added comfort.

    Note:

    Vajrasana is used by Muslims and Zen Buddhists as a position for prayer and meditation. People who cannot perform padmasana or siddhasana, or find them uncomfortable, may sit in vajrasana for meditation practice.

    Variation I:

    Check the flow of breath through the nostrils. If the air flow through the left nostril is predominant, then
    place the left big toe on top of the right big toe; if the right flow is predominant, place the right big toe on top.

    Sit in vajrasana as described.

    This will help to balance the flow of the breath in the left and right nostrils, which are related to ida and pingala nadis, and thereby tranquillise the mind.

    Variation 2: 

    Separate the feet (not the knees) so that the big toes are about 25cm apart.

    Sit in vajrasana with the buttocks flat on the floor. This stimulates mooladhara chakra.

    Variation 3:

    Place a rolled up blanket on the floor between the

    Place a rolled up blanket on the floor between the legs. Separate the feet (not the knees) about 25cm.

    Sit on the blanket in vajrasana.

    This variation is easier and is suitable for beginners as it takes the pressure off the feet and ankles. It also stimulates mooladhara chakra.

  • 13 ushtrasana

    Ushtrasana (camel pose) 13

    Ushtrasana (camel pose)

    Sit in vajrasana.

    Stand on the knees with the arms at the sides.

    The knees and feet should be together but may be separated if this is more comfortable.

    Lean backward, slowly reaching for the right heel with the right hand and then the left heel with the left hand.

    Do not strain.

    Push the abdomen forward, trying to keep the thighs vertical, and bend the head and spine backward as far as possible.

    Try to relax the whole body, especially the back muscles, into the stretch.

    The weight of the body should be evenly supported by the legs and arms.

    The arms should anchor the shoulders to maintain the arch of the back.

    Remain in the final position for as long as is comfortable.

    Return to the starting position by slowly releasing the hands from the heels one at a time.

    Breathing:

    Normal in the final position. Do not try to breathe deeply because the chest is already stretched.

    Duration:

    Practise up to 3 times as a dynamic asana.

    Hold the final position up to 3 minutes as a static pose.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the abdomen, throat, spine or natural breathing.

    Spiritual – on swadhisthana or vishuddhi chakra.

    Sequence:

    It is important that this asana is followed by any forward bending asana, such as paschimottanasana, to
    release any tension in the back. The most convenient counterpose is shashankasana since it may be performed immediately from vajrasana without unnecessary body movement.

    Contra-indications:

    People with severe back ailments such as lumbago should not attempt this asana without expert
    guidance. Those suffering from enlarged thyroid should also take care.

    Benefits:

    This asana is beneficial for the digestive and reproductive systems. It stretches the stomach and intestines, alleviating constipation. The backward bend loosens up the vertebrae and stimulates the spinal nerves, relieving backache, lumbago, rounded back and drooping shoulders.  The front of the neck is fully stretched, toning the organs in this region and regulating the thyroid gland.

    Practice note:

    To accentuate the asana, the right heel may be grasped with the left hand and the left heel with the right
    hand.  To begin with this asana may be practised with the balls of the feet on the floor.

  • 7 marjari asana

    Marjari-asana (cat stretch pose) 7

    Marjari-asana (cat stretch pose):-

    Sit in vajrasana.

    Raise the buttocks and stand on the knees.

    Lean forward and place the hands flat on the floor beneath the shoulders with the fingers facing forward.

    The hands should be in line with the knees; the arms and thighs should be perpendicular to the floor.

    The knees may be together or slightly separated.

    This is the starting position.

    Inhale while raising the head and depressing the spine so that the back becomes concave.

    Expand the abdomen fully and fill the lungs with the maximum amount of air. Hold the breath for 3 seconds.

    Exhale, while lowering the head and stretching the spine upward.

    At the end of exhalation contract the abdomen and pull in the buttocks.

    The head will now be between the arms, facing the thighs.

    Hold the breath for 3 seconds, accentuating the arch of the spine and the abdominal contraction.

    This is one round.

    Breathing:

    Try to perform the movement breathing as slowly as possible. Aim at taking at least 5 seconds for both
    inhalation and exhalation. Ujjayi breathing may be used.

    Duration:

    Perform 5 to 10 full rounds for general purposes.

    Awareness:

    Physical – on the breath synchronised with the movement and flexion of the spine from top to bottom.

    Spiritual – on swadhisthana chakra.

    Benefits:

    This asana improves the flexibility of the neck, shoulders and spine. It gently tones the female reproductive system. It may be safely practised up to the sixth month of pregnancy; forceful contraction of the abdomen, however, should be avoided after 3 months. Women suffering from menstrual disorders and leucorrhea will obtain relief by doing marjari-asana and it may be practised during menstruation for relief of cramps.

    Practice note:

    Do not bend the arms at the elbows. Keep the arms and thighs vertical throughout.

The vajra, thunderbolt, is said to be the weapon of Indra, king of the devas or gods, just as the mind is the king of all the senses. Vajra is also the major nadi directly connected with the genito-urinary system which regulates the sexual energy in the body. Control of vajra nadi leads to sublimation and control
of sexual energy. The vajrasana series is, therefore, very beneficial for the reproductive as well as digestive organs and is also reasonably easy to perform.

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