Yoga Nidra

There are many excellent resources on 'Yoga Nidra' [a deep form of  awareness/consciousness which can be deeply relaxing and meditative]

I have chosen this particular link because it gives a practical resource and also comprehensive description from an authentic basis, in a user-friendly format.

This link is for the 61 point yoga nidra related practice.

Yoga Nidra - audio

Alternate Nostril Breath [phased]

Pranayama - Anuloma and Viloma Ujjayi
 Instructions:
  • Body posture: spine upright
  • Not straight after a meal
  • mrgi mudra
  • Clean air, environment

  •  Use Mrgi [deer] mudra  with the right hand because a] left hand used for counting number of breaths [b] same amount of pressure on both left and right nostrils [important aspect in pranayama since uneven pressure on one side will affect the quality of the practice] .
Anuloma ujjayi phase
Inhale phase: both nostrils, using throat/ujjayi -Feel the sound at the roof of the palate, narrowing the glottis Exhale phase: alternate nostrils.
  •  Place the thumb above the right nostril and the ring and little fingers above the left nostril, somewhere near the top half of the nose - slowly slide the fingers down the nose to where you feel that the nose cartilage stops - position the mrgi mudra here.
  • Apply light pressure with the thumb to close the right nostril completely and also lighter pressure on the left nostril to close it half way - through this half-open passage exhale slowly
  • Breathe in through both nostrils (using ujjayi/throat) Feel the sound at the roof of the palate, narrowing the glottis.
  • Apply  light pressure with the thumb to close left nostril completely and  lighter pressure on right nostril to close it half way , through this half-open passage exhale slowly
  • This is one round.
  •  In the beginning do 5 -8 rounds
Viloma ujjayi Phase[inhaling through alternate nostrils and exhaling through the throat with ujjayi]
  • Inhale slowly through left nostril [right closed, apply mrgi]
  • exhale throat [ujjayi]
  • 5 -8 rounds
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Nadi sodhana
nasagrika mudra

Sitting comfortably straight
  • use nasagrika mudra 
  •  inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril.
  • Then inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril.
  • This completes one cycle of Nadi sodhana, which consists of two breaths.
  • Keep even rhythm, feel breath flowing in and out of the body.
  • 5 -8 rounds
At the end of your practice you may wish to rest in savasana, meditate or continue with the day's work.
  • Alternate nostril breathing helps to balance the right brain/left brain activity and can also help making the breathing more even and regular with calming effects and a good preparation for meditation.
  • There are different methods. 
  • The method given here is in three phases: anuloma, viloma and nadi sodhana
  • Nadi sodhana can be done on its own, but using anuloma and viloma as a preparation can make the practice more sensitive.
---------------------------------------------------Interesting information:
Brain activity influences the pattern of our breathing'..the so called nasal cycle which is influenced by our central nervous system and that it contains a period when we can breathe more easily through the left nostril and another analogous period for the right nostril. This is connected with changes in cerebral hemispheric dominance ... EEG recordings showing that higher activity of the right brain hemisphere results in easier breathing through the left nostril and the higher activity of the left brain hemisphere results in easier breathing through the right nostril and that this cycle changes every 25 to 200 minutes.

 Easier breathing through the right nostril, on the other hand, means that the left brain hemisphere is currently dominating.
When we can breathe equally through both nostrils there is some kind of balance between left and right brain hemisphere functions and throughout the nervous system.
Interestingly this happens mainly in the time of dawn, midday and sunset when the vital energies of nature are at their strongest. ''

Interesting article:
Nasal cycle - Yoga practice/research
So when we breathe more easily through the left nostril, the functioning of the right brain hemisphere is more pronounced and dominant than the left.

Mudra Mind's Meditate


‘SA TA NA MA’ Mudra Meditation

Benefits
“Sa” - sense of emotion and expansiveness
“Ta” - feeling of transformation and strength
“Na” - stimulates a sense of universal love
“Ma” - communion


Sa Ta Na Ma meditation is thought to harmonise the hemispheres of the brain, alternating the bio- electrical polarities. The index and ring fingers are electrically negative, relative to the other fingers. Helps to balance electro-magnetic field of the body.

Posture: Sit in easy pose or in a chair, spine straight, hands on knees.
On “Sa,” press index finger pad to thumb pad;
on “Ta,” press middle finger pad to thumb pad;
on “Na,” press ring finger pad to thumb pad;
on “Ma,” press little finger pad to thumb pad.

Continue moving your fingers through this meditation. [5-10 MINS]

 


[References: Hirschi, G[2000]; Sikh-based Yoga]

Root Energy

Mula [moola+root] bandha [voluntary contraction of muscles/locking]
A beginners guide
To activate mula bandha, exhale and engage the pelvic floor, drawing it upwards towards your navel.
Isolate and draw up the perineum, which is between the anus and genitals. Maintain this contraction with the breath in for about six seconds, then out for about six seconds. Breath with calm, slowly and smoothly.
Repeat this exercise five times. Increasing over time to incorporate it into your practice.
Do not hold your breath
Engaging mula bandha while doing yoga poses can give the postures an extra lift.
When holding it for extended periods, do gently at 15-50 %
Mula bandha acts as a support in yoga- eg. asana, pranayama
By contracting the perineum and drawing the energy up from the base of the spine, one can intensify and direct the ‘life energy‘ [prana], improving vitality and alertness.
By bringing awareness to the core of the body, mula bandha helps prevent injury. It guides you to move from your ‘centre’
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Further reading:


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Let go of dead weight....

Sava-√Ęsana.
34. Laying down on the ground, like a corpse, is called Sava-√Ęsana. It removes fatigue and gives rest to the mind. [Hatha-Yoga Pradipika]



It is the most difficult ‘pose’ in hatha yoga because it is an act of setting aside all posing – of undoing our very sense of self, rather than adding to it. Yet it is by this offering that through yoga we conquer time and death by putting an end, once and for all, to our fear of both.''
''Savasana is a practice that is integral to the spirit of yoga, for yoga is an offering of ones efforts without  regard for success or failure.  
Method:
1] make sure the environment is clean, disturbance free. Set aside at least 15 mins. If you use an alarm make sure its not jarring.
2] Lie down mindfully, so that the body is evenly balanced, head in the middle, palms up, legs slightly apart.  If you have tension in the back you can opt for semi-supine [knees bent], or you can place a rolled blanket/towel under the knees, if the legs are stretched out.
3] Let your eyes close, consciously relax each muscle group, body area. You can start from the feet upwards.  Let the body surrender, like  a rag doll.  You will be surprised how much tension is hidden in the body- just with your kindly awareness, investigate and release.
4] Now you can focus on the abdominal area. Note the rising of the abdomen when you inhale and the sinking of the abdmen when you exhale- like gentle waves. Enjoy this feeling. Let your mind focus and absorb itself in this movement.
5] The mind might be still restless - from the day's work, from distractions.  A simple way is to simply count the breaths.  Take 10 abdominal breaths. When you reach 10, start again.  Abdominal breathing has a beneficial stress reducing effect.  If you find your counting has gone hay-wire, simply start again. Do at least 3 batches of 10.
6] Having done this your mind has already begun to relax and you might even drift off into sleep, if its bedtime.  Or you may choose to make it 'meditative' - a state of yoga nidra.
7] For a relaxed meditative state, make a 'samkalpa'[affirmmation] such as 'I will remain relaxed and aware'. You may also want to use a positive intent, to embed a positive behavioural result. eg. 'I am calm and focussed'.
8] If you catch yourself drifting off return your awareness to your breathing.
9] Widen yourself, let go of the thoughts, step back into 'witness mode'.
10] When you've finished, take your time to refocus, adjust- no sudden abrupt movements [unless there is an emergency].  Get up and notice how relaxed, alert and refreshed you feel.
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[you can check the links page for useful resources]