Designing your asana practice

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When you look at the options for yoga classes available to you, you would predominantly find Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga , Iyengar etc. Brief description for the kind of classes available are as follows

Hatha - Hatha is the basis and foundation for the yoga practice. All traditional practices flow from the hatha practice. Hatha philosophy revolves around the balancing of ha and tha ( ida and pingala ) nadis. In other words, the yin and yang or the sun and moon aspect of a humanbody. The balance in flow of energy through these channels sets up an environment of good health in human body. The emphasis in a hatha class is on holding a posture.

Vinyasa - Vinyasa defines a flow kind of class, where a practitioner transits from one asana to the other without holding the asana for a long time.

Iyengar - An iyengar class focuses on getting the alignment right and holding the posture for a longer time.

Ashtanga - It is a class usually predefined by the sequence. In an ashtanga class you move from one asana to another in a predefined way.

While books and schools could be a good guide to define one’s session , we recommend the following sequence which follows the principle of heating the body upto it peak energy and then cooling it down. The sequence is as follows :

  1. Start with centering and joint loosening
  2. Warming the body with sun-salutations ( surya namaskar )
  3. Stretching the already warmed up body
  4. Core strengthening sequence
  5. Balancing sequence
  6. Backward bends ( by the time maximum heat has been created in the body, thus the cooling down phase starts )
  7. Cooling down with inversions and forward bends
  8. Closing the session with savasana

The sequence when properly executed will leave the practitioner with a deep sense of relaxation and heightened awareness. The energy level at the end of the session is expected to be higher than what one starts with. We will elaborate on the specific asanas in a recommended sequence in subsequent posts.

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