Savasana is the best way to finish asana practice
Your approach to the Asanas and their practice.
In Savasana the body relaxes completely and the mind is kept quiet and aware. This pose removes any tiredness caused by doing other asanas so that after the practice you feel refreshed and revitalized.
When lying in Savasana the body should be aligned and balanced. In this relaxed state, muscles that have held the body in an unbalanced or crooked way can be released and the body corrects itself.
Incorrect postural habits are released. Ten minutes in Savasana can be as refreshing as a couple of hours sleep.
It is important to be warm. As we relax, the body temperature falls. Sit on the floor and then lie back, keeping the body straight and in line. A blanket or bolster can be used behind the back and the head if this is found to be more comfortable than lying flat. A folded blanket can also be used behind the head (to keep the chin lower than the forehead) and for some people a rolled blanket may be placed behind the knees (in order to relax the lower back).
Stretch the legs and the arms and then let them drop out to the sides.
Draw the shoulder blades down the back so that you feel that you are lying on the flat surface of the shoulder blades and the back is broad. Move the outer shoulders down and relax the arms and the hands, palms facing upwards. Close the eyes and relax the face and the throat.
Allow the breathing to become easy. Do not strain to control the breath. As you relax the breathing becomes light and soft. Allow your mind to rest on the breath. Stay for 5 to 10 minutes. Gently roll over onto your side with the knees bent.
When you feel ready to, sit up slowly.
YOUR APPROACH TO AND WORK IN THE ASANAS (Postures)
The practice of the asanas should be done for its own sake and not with regard to success or failure.
Each time you do a posture, you should aim to do the best posture that you can.
You should be disciplined in your practice and work with tapas (fervour and zeal).
The practice should be systematic, working with simple asanas and when strength and skill has been achieved in these, more difficult asanas are introduced. However the basic asanas are always repeated over and over again and in this way greater understanding and depth of work is achieved.
Attention to alignment and accuracy is very important. With time the postures become more precise and as Patanjali stated "Mastery of asanas occurs when practice becomes effortless". Some people have likened this to the asana doing you rather than you doing the asana.
A devoted attitude is necessary, leading to regular practice. For some people once a week but for the more committed, practice will be done on a daily basis and may involve more than one session a day. It is better to do a shorter regular practice, than to do a longer session only once a week/month.
Belief in the efficacy of Yoga will come when you begin to notice the benefits of your regular practice, to yourself and to others close to you. A sensitive and inquiring approach will lead to physical and mental development and improvement in your Yoga and your life. However it is important not to be judgmental, work always to your best ability, do not criticise or feel guilty, instead practise with integrity.
It is recommended that everyone should have a teacher. Going to a weekly class with a teacher whose approach, you feel happy with, helps you to understand the work and allows you to be adjusted and helped in the asanas. Learning from books and DVDs takes second place to this. Working in a group (class), particularly in the beginning, will give you strength and enthusiasm for the practice.
You can learn how to use props, belts, blocks etc. These help the individual to work correctly and with good alignment even when the asanas seem too difficult for the body achieve. How far into any posture you go, needs to be considered and a teacher will be able to help everyone work in a way that is right for them.
In your personal practice at home, you can not only follow up what you have learnt but you can also choose the asanas to practice in order to influence your current state and condition. If you are feeling depressed do not do seated forward bends. For energy and vitality do standing asanas. Back bends will also bring forward the energy but can release pent up emotions. Opening the chest and lengthening the spine is important before Pranayama (breathing exercises). Some asanas will aid sleep and rest. All of the asanas have a physical and a mental effect. They work on the cells of all parts of the body. With time, you will experience these effects and work according to your own requirements.
The most important thing is however, to enjoy your Yoga practice.
Credit: Inspired by B.K.S Iyengar.