links for further reading
links for further reading
This body scan will allow you to listen to a guided body scan. The body scan is in the form of a rotating consciousness exercise. Rotating consciousness is one of the components of the Yoga Nidra* practice. This practice leads to the yogic state of pratayahara, in which the mind withdraws from the distracting input of the senses and resides in a state of silent witnessing. This is an excellent practice to do just before sleep or anytime you wish to relax deeply.
It is best to precede this body scan with some gentle stretches such as cat/cow, some gentle twists and lateral stretches for the spine. If you’d like you could also do two rounds of sun salutation. Or you can simply perform some gentle, rolling movements once you are lying on your back.
You will want to be in a very comfortable position during this body scan, lying on your back is best. In the exercise each part of the body is mentioned in a systematic order. When completing this exercise your aim is to bring your awareness as completely as possible to each area of the body, not trying to relax, although that likely will happen. You note, without creating a story or making a judgment, the sensations present in each area, even noting when there is an inability to actually have an internal sense of the body part mentioned. You bring an attitude of curiosity and openness to your awareness.
*Yoga Nidra is literally translated as yogic sleep. That is a bit of a misnomer as yogic sleep refers to an awakened state. Yogis believe that the perception of earthly objects or experiences as solid and separate constitutes a dream state and that the fully awakened yogi is one who, whether asleep or awake, understands the true connectedness of reality. Yoga Nidra is a way of finding complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation while remaining aware on deeper levels.
By Eknath Easwaran
I invite you to undertake the greatest art work of all, an undertaking which is for everyone, forever, never to be put aside, even for a single day. Observe that you have been given two marvelous instruments of love and service: the external instrument, this intricate network of systems that is the body; the internal, this subtle and versatile mind. Consider this amorphous material, not yet deliberately crafted. Reflect upon what it is and what it could be. Imagine how you will feel, and what those around you will lose, if it does not become what it could be. Now set to work. Sit for meditation, and sit again. Every day without fail, sick or well, tired or energetic, alone or with others, at home or away from home, sit for meditation, as great artists throw themselves into their creations. As you sit, you will have in hand the supreme hammer and chisel; use it to hew away all unwanted effects or your heredity, conditioning, environment, and latencies. Bring forth the noble work of art within you! My earnest wish is that one day you shall see in all its purity the radiant spiritual being you really are.What is a Mantra and How Does it Work?The work Mantra means “a tool for the mind”. The mantra works to steady the mind and seat it in a larger vibration, and to harness the power of emotions. Modern science and ancient yoga agree: the universe is an ocean of energy. Emotions, memories, anxieties, even different organs and parts of the body all have a specific energy frequency. The process of repeating a mantra begins to align these energies with a specific intention, using the mind to free the mind. Mantras start a powerful vibration, which corresponds to both a specific energy frequency and a state of consciousness in seed form. Over time, the mantra process begins to override all of the other smaller vibrations of emotions, thoughts, etc. which eventually become absorbed by the mantra. Eventually, the great wave of the mantra stills all other vibrations, and one abides in a state of peace. When we choose a mantra, we consider whether the passage is positive, inspirational, life-affirming. We choose a mantra that will hold steadily before us a constant image of that which we strive to realize.Mantras for MeditationUse a quality as a mantra such as peace, love, kindness, softness, ease.Lord, (or Goddess or Great Spirit) make me an instrument of your peace.OM Namah Shivayah – A famous Sanskrit Mantra, which represents offering oneself to the power of Grace.Hum on the inhalation, Sah on the exhalation. Sanskrit words which literally translate as “I am That” and which balance the energies that create matter with those that cultivate spirit.Sanskrit mantras which correspond to the seed syllables in the Sanskrit alphabet: Aim (pronounced I’m), seed syllable of the teacher; Krim, seed syllable of union; Shrim, seed syllable of delight; Strim, seed syllable of peace; Hlim, seed syllable of protection.Use any phrase that has meaning to you such as Open to Silence, Open to the Infinite, Open to Grace, Peace is in me.
Jnana Place the tip of the thumb against the tip of the index finger. Extend your other fingers. Place your hand on your thigh. Do this with both hands. When the palm faces up it is called the jnana mudra. When the palm faces down it is called the chin mudra. The index finger represents Atman or individual consciousness, while the thumb represents Brahman or the world soul. The closed circle represents their union, the ultimate goal of a yoga practice.
Anjali The mudra of offering. The palms fold in front of the heart. A bow and the salutation Namaste, which means “the divinity in me bows to the divinity in you”, often accompany this mudra. This is the essence of yoga practice in which we endeavor to see the divine in all that surrounds us. It may also be used as a posture of composure, returning to the heart.
Hakini This mudra is believed to stimulate concentration and memory. All fingertips touch in front of the heart. To remember something or find something you’ve lost place hands in hakini mudra, direct gaze upward, place tip of tongue behind teeth while inhaling, let it fall while exhaling. Take a deep breath in and what you wanted should immediately occur to you. This is also a helpful mudra to use when you need sustained concentration, or when you are doing mental work.
Dhyani A mudra of contemplation and meditation. The palms form a bowl shape. The left hand rests inside of the right and the thumbs lightly touch. The hands represent an empty vessel awaiting divine wisdom.
Ganesha Ganesha is the elephant god who overcomes all obstacles. Reportedly, this mudra stimulates heart and lung activity and opens the fourth chakra supplying courage, confidence, and openness to other people. Hold your left palm in front of your heart with the palm facing away from you. Face your right palm toward you and hook the fingers. Take a deep breath in; as you exhale strongly pull the hands away from each other without releasing the fingers. On your inhalation release, still keeping the fingers linked. Do this six times. Let the hands, still linked, rest against your sternum for a moment. Then repeat the same exercise with the hands facing in opposite directions. Sit quietly for a moment and notice the energy in the heart and lung areas.
Vayu The wind mudra. This mudra prevents flatulence and associated disorders. With both hands, bend the index finger to the mound of the thumb. Then wrap the thumb over the index finger. The other fingers are relaxed in an extended position. This mudra may be done 15 minutes three times daily for chronic complaints or until the condition subsides in acute situations.
Shambavi This mudra has been found to have a stress reducing effect. Sit in a comfortable position. Place hands in the jnana or chin mudra. Direct our gaze upward toward your third eye point. Focus your awareness on your breath. End the mudra when your eyes become tired.
Shakti In honor of Shakti, the goddess of life energy. This practice stimulates breathing in the lower chest area. It has a calming effect and will help you to sleep at night. It can also help to counteract spasms in the intestines and menstrual cramps. Touch the tip of your right ring and pinky fingers to your left ring and pinky fingers. Bend your other fingers lightly over your thumbs. Breathe deeply into your abdomen, all the way into the pelvic bowl. Make the exhalation as slow as possible. Do as needed or three times daily for 12 minutes. May induce lethargy if overdone. *Compiled largely from Mudras by Gertrud Hirschi, published by Red Wheel Weiser, by Kim Trimmer of InsideOut Yoga
This website will give you a complete description of Anusara Yoga – this is the style that most strongly influences my teaching at present.
This is a local teacher with whom I have studied Somatic Movement Education. I have found this work to be profound both physically and mentally and incorporate some of the patterns into my classes.
quotations A great resource for inspirational quotations. Plug in a topic and VOILA – many quotes!