Breathing awareness and duration

In the starting position breathe in. Hold the breath inside while raising the body to the final pose. Breathe slowly and deeply in the final position. Breathe in deeply and then hold the breath as you lower the body to the starting position.

While raising and lowering the body, the attention should be on correct movement, synchronization of the different movements and on maintaining balance. In the final position you can be aware of breathing, or the centre of the head, or you can visualize any psychic symbol in front ofyour closed eyes. You can choose anything. Beginners, however, should direct their awareness to maintaining balance.

Experts who are in perfect health and who have been doing sirshasana for many years, can practise for up to thirty minutes. But we don't recommend this to most people, especially beginners. Prolonged duration by inexperienced people could cause more harm than good. Furthermore, we strongly recommend that anyone wanting to do sirshasana for more than five minutes at a time should consult a yoga school or ashram for guidance.

Beginners should start with no more than thirty seconds. This duration can be gradually increased by about ten seconds a day (about minutes. At this point you should seek expert advice. This slow increase in duration is important, for it allows the blood vessels in the brain to slowly adjust and accustom themselves to the extra blood pressure that occurs in the final pose. Also, the neck muscles must be slowly strengthened; in fact the entire body must be gradually accustomed to the inversion of the body. You must use your common sense in deciding how long to remain in the final pose. If you feel the slightest fatigue, trembling, head strain or general anxiety then stop doing the asana.

Eventually you should aim to stay in the final position for at least three minutes, since it takes a minute or so for the inverted position to bring changes in the body, especially the blood flow to the brain and the drainage of blood from the legs. Under no circumstances should you strain or stay in the final pose for longer than is comfortable.

Lessons in Raja Yoga

Lessons in Raja Yoga

An easy to understand book on the principles and practices of Raja-Yoga alike. It teaches the eight steps

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