Yog techniques are the most perfect means for gaining self-control,
and the ultimate goal of Raj Yog is to clear the mind from thoughts,
images and desires. This is achieved through eight steps described
in the first written synthesis of Yog - the Pantanjali`s Yog
Sutras: Yam, Niyam, Asan and pranayam, Pratyhar, Dharan, Dhyan
and Samadhi. All these steps have been adapted into the following
series of exercises:
1. Body awareness - control through Yog postures
2. Breath awareness - control - through Yog breathing exercises.
3. Voluntary attention focus - control through self-discipline
exercises will lead to more control over the mind and body.
Practiced individually, each element will be helpful, but together
the program is even more powerful. Each step enhances the other.
All these steps show the inner relationship among each steps
and exercises. Body control facilitates breath control, and
conversely, breath control facilitates body control. Similarly,
body and breath control facilitate voluntary attention focus,
and attention focus leads to the development of concentration.
Also, practicing each of the four steps leads to improvement
dl each of the other skills.
Body Awareness - Control Through Yog Postures :
The following examples will show you how to develop
body control through Yog postures. Most of the athletes start
their training and competition by sitting still and concentrating
on their breathing. And by sitting still, one can control the
mental state. Thus, the following is the first exercise that
mostly athletes should use to start each practice or competition.
Assume a comfortable sitting position in a quiet place.
It can be a simple cross-legged position. Keep your spine,
neck, and head aligned with each other. Rest your hands
on your knees, with the thumb of each hand lightly touching
the tip of the forefinger. Gently close your eyes, but do
not squeeze them shut.
the cross-legged position is uncomfortable, sit on a wooden
chair. Make sure your trunk, neck, and head are erect and
firmly place your feet flat on the floor. Whatever position
you take, it must include a straight back, aligned with
the neck and head in a comfortable position, and easy breathing.
Sit still steadily and do not move. When your body moves,
your mind moves, and vice versa, since the mind and the
body are one. Be aware of your body sitting still, motionless,
and relaxed. Make sure that your sitting position is still
comfortable, relaxed, and steady.
Now relax all your muscles. Visualize and allow all your
muscles to relax, to become soft, loose. Start from the
top of your head, and visualize and relax the muscles of
your forehead, the muscles around your eyes, mouth, the
facial muscles, and the muscles of your neck, shoulders,
arms, and hands. Go progressively through each part of your
body. Relax muscles of your chest, back, the abdominal muscles,
and the muscles around your hips and pelvis the muscles
of your thighs, knees, calves, and feet. Scan your body
and if you notice any tension, just flow relaxation to this
area as you quietly exhale. You can repeat this procedure
one more time.
Take more deep, comfortable breaths and attune to your body.
Sit still quietly - this steady, relaxed position will still
and calm your body. You will become aware of different physical
sensations like twitches or heaviness.
still will help you develop breath awareness and concentration,
control thoughts and emotions, and eliminate external distractions.
Later, you will also use this position to practice Yog breathing,
concentration, and meditation.
sitting still steadily, practicing a few Yog postures will also
help the athletes gain more control over their body. Various
Asan's like the Paschimottanasan and the Modified Paschimottanasan
can be practiced after sitting still steadily. However, one
can choose any Yog posture for this purpose. Learning sitting
still is very important. Athletes can move to the next step
only after mastering sitting still and calming their body.
Breath Awareness - Control through Yog Breathing Exercises :
After learning sitting steadily and calming the body,
the next step is learning to control one`s breath - breath awareness.
This is an extremely important technique. It is always breath
awareness and breathing exercises, due to which a person can
control his mind, mental state, and emotions. Breath is the
bridge between the body and mind. Yog breathing is a powerful
tool. The ultimate goal of most of the Yog breathing exercises
is to regulate the mental state by favorably influencing the
nervous system. Yog breathing techniques facilitate concentration
and meditation. Through Yog breathing you will gain conscious
control over unconscious activities of the autonomic nervous
position after stilling, calming your body (body awareness),
focuses your attention on your breathing. Observe, visualize
and mentally follow your smooth, deep diaphragmatic breathing.
Changes of mental state, changes of feeling, changes of
bodily sensations, and postures are registered immediately
in the pattern of breathing. For example, fear and anger
produce shallow breathing; sorrow produces uneven, spasmodic
breathing. Positive emotions create regular produces uneven,
spasmodic breathing. Positive emotions create regular
breathing. Every change of mental state is reflected in
the breath and also in the body. This is also true in
reverse - by changing the breathing pat- tem we can also
alter the emotions.
Focusing the Attention :
Training your attention is a precondition for concentration.
Where you are physically present, you should also be mentally
present. The first step in training your attention is to practice
giving your full attention to each of your daily affairs.
For example, when studying, become fully absorbed. When resting,
or practicing your sport, do it with full attention. Attention
can be involuntary, which means that it is based primarily
on reflex. When you reflexively attend to something, it occurs
spontaneously and does not require effort. For example, when
you hear a fire truck`s siren, you may immediately look to
see where it is coming from, without thinking about it.
attention, on the other hand, requires self-discipline. By your
own will or effort, you voluntarily direct your attention toward
an object or idea. Voluntary attention requires determination
and practice. Self-discipline means that you pay full voluntary
attention to what you are doing. Determine to do everything
with full attention. The human mind tends to wander rapidly.
Concentrative analyses of top athletes performances demonstrate
how overpowering mental thoughts can be, especially in stressful
is difficult for an athlete to maintain focus without learning
to control and calm the mind and concentrating on breathing
and in addition, for practicing attention and concentration,
they usually practice one or two Asan's to practice, as a part
of their warm up routine and concentrate as they execute it.
Although these exercises take only 2 to 5 minutes, athletes
find them useful in shifting themselves from the usual state
of awareness to a more focused concentrative state. The exercises
serve to get the athlete mentally attuned for the upcoming practice
Developing Concentration :
Concentration is the most important mental skill; hence
one should always focus his attention on whatever he is doing.
Lack of concentration is the main reason, for negative thinking
and it is the main reason behind all mental errors. Body and
breath awareness exercises help in heighten the concentration.
The latter should be passive and effortless and the same should
be attained without too much of effort. The only way to increase
one's attention skills and minimize distracting thoughts is
to practice the body and breath awareness Asan's regularly.
during Competition :
the mind focused under the high pressure that occurs during
a competition is not an easy task, since the mind constantly
wanders. During a tournament many athletes are not concentrating
on the present; their mind might go back to the past or to the
future - thinking about the result of the performance and the
consequences of that result. Most athletes think too much during
their competitions and try too hard to control their movements.
Emotions, worry and concern about the result are serious obstacles
to the concentration.
daily practice of concentration will increase your ability to
concentrate on the task at hand even under the high pressure
of a competition. One of the most effective means for increasing
your ability to concentrate is meditation. Athletes claim increased
focus and alertness as a result of practicing meditation. Again,
the preferred objects of meditation are breathing, or a mantra.
During the competition you must control your thought or your
thought will control you. A successful performance (game, match,
bout) requires focus on the task at hand on one touch, game,
etc., at a time. You should have a race or game (competition)
plan, performance routine to enhance your concentration and
your performance. This will provide you with a framework (time
table) of specific things to focus on.
can also act as a universal object of concentration. This can
enhance any sport, such as golf, basketball, baseball, tennis,
football, fencing, and martial arts, as well as sports such
as skiing and swimming. Using breathing as an object of concentration
means focusing on the flow of breath, on the inhalation and
exhalation. You may shift your mind onto your breathing during
the nonaction phases of the competition in order to maintain
mental focus. (Breathing is also a helpful tool in combating
anxiety, which plays a big part during tournaments, and which
can cause your mind to wander).
all sports, breathing is an important and effective means of
refocusing, centering, and regaining and maintaining mental
balance. Concentrative analysis of performances showed that
athletes many times need just to be more conscious of things,
thoughts, and self-talk they use when performing their best
and to use cues to trigger their focus of attention. Thus, be
on one thing at the critical moment.
and being always in the present.
dwelling on your mistakes.
the ability of selectively attending to critical clues.
Yog Asan's can be used for different purposes and the four basic
steps on the road to self-control. These four basic steps ultimately
lead to meditation and ultimately to self-control. The exercises
of these steps, as well as the Asan's described, are not difficult.
It is more difficult to make the commitment and to practice
regularly than to execute the exercises. It is necessary to
be aware that only regular practice will produce the desired
effect. Even the most effective Yog exercise or mental skill
cannot produce any effect without regular practice.
Yog, the essence is, in fact, to develop a healthier lifestyle
- transformation. The "big secret" of Yog is that
it changes and normalizes the incorrect way of life. Yog exercises
can be effective only if you practice them regularly and in
such duration that it can compensate (balance) the negative
effect of an unnatural way of life which became a general lifestyle.
Yog body postures and exercises were developed to supplement
and balance (compensate) the one-sided life style.