Purna Yoga

Before you begin to practice Yoga it is important to understand a little about the basic dos and don'ts of yoga for your own care and pleasure. Please read and observe the general information below.
It is perfectly all right for you to begin practicing with this information; however, we would recommend that you also obtain the book Balanced Yoga by Dr Svami Purna. You will find this book on Yoga (Practical Introduction Series) in the Amazon book link in the Navigation bar). It includes many other elementary postures and positions that will prepare you to enjoy some of the more advanced aspects of the yogic approach to life.
Medical Caution
While it is clear that the practice of yoga can improve health and well being and can also be very therapeutic in eliminating many physical and mental ailments and disorders it must never be used as a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. Your doctor knows your medical history and is therefore qualified to advise you whether you can undertake these movements. Many doctors are now recognizing the benefits and advantages that the practice of yoga has to offer and are in fact referring their patients to this practice.

The extreme gentleness of the positions set out here makes this program an ideal practical demonstration of Dr. Svami Purna's system of yoga movements for those who may not usually undertake strenuous exercise. Purna Yoga is a flexible program, designed to be enjoyed in whole or in part, with or without meditation, depending on your time and other circumstances.

This program is designed to illustrate a variety of Yoga postures that will benefit everyone. Each month we will explore a new posture to allow you to become thoroughly familiar with each posture and its benefits. You will find that the illustrations and instructions for each movement are very clearly set out and very easy to follow.

With each new entry - topmost on this blog - you will find an illustration, the description and benefit of the pose as well as a quote or poem by Dr. Svami Purna to enhance the experience. We will begin with the Tree Pose, especially helpful when we feel scattered, harried or simply out of balance. Enjoy this very easy pose daily.  *** Gradually we will move onto a little more complex postures, all of which are easily manageable for most people. 

Note: You may wish to conclude your yoga session with a relaxation and guided imagery. Please check the link called Guided Imagery in the navigation bar -- a journal of simple mini vacations...

*** For those of you who discovered this blog only recently, please scroll down to the bottom of this page  for the first postures  and go to the next page ...



The Lotus Seat   -  Padmasana 

 (Do not attempt this pose unless your joints are fairly limber – and NEVER force)

Sit on your mat and gently pull up one leg then placing it on opposite thigh as far as is comfortable.  Slowly bend the other leg and very carefully place on opposite thigh.  Remember never to push this movement.  Relax into this pose, letting go of all tension.

Keep your spine straight and place hands on your knees. Breathe gently.

If the full Lotus is not comfortable , you may wish to try the half lotus, by placing one foot against your groin then gently beding the other leg and placing the  foot on the opposite thigh (see image below) 




This posture promotes balance and harmony, it is one of the traditionally accepted poses for  pranayama and meditation, since your body remains comfortably relaxed without strain on the spine.





The Plough  (Halasana)


The Plough

Lie on your back, arms by your side, palms down. Slowly raise your legs and trunk (as for the Inverted Pose). Keep legs as straight as possible. Supporting your back with your hands, continue lifting your legs and trunks up and over your head until the toes come to rest behind your head. Should you notice excessive tension in your back, spread your feet apart the first few times you do this exercise. Only when you are quite comfortable in this position, release the hold on your back and lay your arms flat on the floor. Hold only for ten seconds in the beginning. After your body becomes accustomed to this position, you may hold it longer. Very slowly unroll your body to the starting position.

NOTE: Please do not practice this asana if you have a spinal disc lesion.

EFFECT: Wonderful for the entire nervous system, the Plough results in instant removal of fatigue, listlessness and exhaustion. It corrects spinal deformities and affects the regeneration of chest, lungs and all abdominal organs. It is of particular benefit to diabetics, due to the regulating effect on the pancreas and endocrine glands.



The Inverted Pose (Viparita Karani)

                                  Inverted Pose

Lie on your back.  Very slowly raise your legs off the floor.  Supporting your hips with your hands, bring your legs slightly over your head.  Straighten both legs and remain in this position for as long as comfortable.  Focus on your face and throat.  VERY slowly lower both legs.  You may bend the legs coming down if necessary. 

EFFECT:  Rejuvenation.  The Inverted Pose increases circulation in the neck and face and is a natural "face lift".  Both heart and lungs benefit.  The Inverted Pose is also good for varicose veins and hemorrhoids.




What is Yoga?


Yoga is not a religion, a political movement, or a dogma. It is a way of bringing harmony within diversity. It respects all cultures, creeds and nations. It nurtures the higher instincts of humanity – compassion, cooperation, and peace.

It is said that man was made in the image of his creator – healthy, happy, vibrant, and wise – living positively and constantly striving to uplift himself. To be healthy in body and mind, and to be full of vitality, are normal attributes of human life. They are man’s birthright. There is little doubt, however, that man has drifted off his intended course. The human mode of living today reflects an attitude which accepts disease and suffering, whether physical, mental, or psychological, as unavoidable and normal. Negative conditioning, habits, and thoughts have thus shortened man’s life-expectancy.

Thousands of years ago highly evolved humanists and sages created the system of yoga, a scientific method whereby one is able to develop physically, mentally, and psychologically into a more complete human being. The term ‘yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yuk’ meaning ‘union’ or ‘yoke’. It implies harmony and balance between all aspects of creation; the impulses and inclinations of the ever-wavering mind being brought under the discriminating yoke of the Higher Self.

Although there are many different forms of yoga practice, the most accessible method for the Western student is that form which takes the physical body as its starting point.

This is Hatha Yoga. The syllables ha and tha signify respectively the sun and the moon, the flux of positive and negative energies. Balance of these energies result in perfect health, imbalance in disease. Hatha Yoga is thus a complete system of physical maintenance, although physical exercises alone do not constitute Hatha Yoga – that would simply be gymnastics. Hatha Yoga consists of purposefully directed bodily exercises combined with the guidance of life-force into all parts of the body – each muscle, joint, gland, and nerve fiber – making the body into a conscious and obedient instrument. The combined action of postures with breath control will eliminate poisons and toxins and will vitalize the body, strengthening the whole nervous system. You will begin to feel energetic, yet relaxed. Free from tension, you will be able to cope more easily with the constantly increasing demands of modern living.

However, there is more to Hatha Yoga than a feeling of physical fitness. By stimulating endocrine activity (endocrine secretions being a major component in the ‘manufacture’ of emotions), Hatha Yoga becomes a valuable aid in the regulation and stabilization of emotion. If practiced conscientiously, it will uplift your mind as well as your emotions, it will raise your consciousness, and it will bring you into harmony with the whole of nature.

Interestingly, the word ‘Hatha’ also translates as ‘force’ – that tremendous force which you can harness to help overcome many negative manifestations both around you and within you. Hatha Yoga is no self-seeking showmanship, no fanatic asceticism, torture, or fancy gymnastics. It is a scientific tool, pleasant and enjoyable, which can help you achieve balance of bodily, mental, and emotional functions.



The Locust Pose  (Salabhasana)


Lying face down on your mat, rest your head on your forehead. Keep your arms alongside the body and make your hands into fists. Inhale and raise both legs, keeping the knees straight. Hold for 10 seconds. Exhale and slowly lower the legs. Relax and repeat twice. If you find this exercise too strenuous, you may raise one leg at a time until you can raise both legs comfortably.

EFFECT: This is a good posture for everyone. It stimulates digestion, relieves constipation and has a profound preserving effect on the kidneys. The spine and the entire back are strengthened.

Note: Practice of this posture affects the finer tissues and smaller blood vessels in the back. Just as locusts have a distinctive and highly developed faculty of “hopping high”, this asana sublimates many of the human being’s baser faculties.