On this Yoga Poses webpage we will discuss the components of a basic Sivananda yoga class which can be from 1 to 2 hours.  Additionally, we will give some general guidelines to follow when doing the yoga practice.  Finally we will also list out the benefits of this yoga practice.Quote: “Through the physical poses of Hatha Yoga, the nervous system is toned, enabling it to withstand the experience of rising energy.  Hatha Yoga awakens the kundalini by disciplining the body and purifying the nadis.  (The astral channels through which flows the prana).”
– Swami Vishnudevananda in “The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga” 

Swami Vishnudevananda teaches a yoga class with many students practicing cobra. 

#1 Beginning Prayer and Initial relaxation

Sivananda Yoga classes alway starts with a few minutes of initial relaxation followed by the chanting of 3 OMs and the beginning prayer (Gajananam).

Including prayer before the Yoga session, done mentally or verbally, helps to set the inner mood and create the proper mind set for the practice.  The prayers also invoke the Gurus’ and teachers’ blessings for a successful practice.

#2 Pranayama

Pranayama can be performed before or after the session of asanas. For practical reasons, practicing before is better.  In fact, pranayama can be performed more than one time throughout a day.  In order to practice 15 to 20 minutes is all that is needed.The 2 basic pranayamas are:

Kapalabhati – (shining skull – forceful breath)

It is said that this pranayama cleanses the lungs and awakens energy.  Through this practice all of the old stale air in the lungs is exchanged for new fresh air.  We normally practice 3 rounds of 60 – 80 pumping (quick exhalations)  followed by breath retention from 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Anuloma Viloma – (alternate nostril breathing)

Anuloma Viloma or alternate nostril breathing is a practice to slow down and manipulate the air flowing in the nostrils.  By controlling this air flow we actually start to control the subtle prana and you also control the mind.In a practice session, we recommend 10 rounds starting on the left and ending on the left side. The count we follow is 4-16-8.  Inhale for 4 seconds, retain for 16 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds.

Use the thumb and the ring finger on the right hand to hold the nostrils, and not the index finger.  Keep the index finger and the middle finger turned in the palm of the right hand.  The sitting posture should stay relaxed and comfortable.

During this practice we keep the breathing even and steady not too fast or too slow.  By doing this we regulate the breath and the flow of prana or subtle energy. Additionally, you can focus at the point in between the eyebrows during the practice.Rest and relax in Savasana for a few minutes after the pranayama session, enjoy the flow of energy.

#3 Surya Namaskar (Sun salutations)

This is a warm up exercises comprising 12 postures, performed continuously without a break, without variations or pauses.  Each round is 12 positions.  The minimum number of rounds is 8 or better 12.Every movement is accompanied with the breath.  The Sun Salutations can be done slow or fast as desired.  All muscles and ligaments are exercised, preparing for the asana session. 

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