Yog techniques are the most perfect means for gaining self-control,
and the ultimate goal of Raja 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:
Yamas, Niyamas, Asan's and pranayam, Pratyhara, Dharana, Dhyana and
Samadhi. All these steps have been adapted into the following series
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.
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.
- If 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
- 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
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,
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
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 system.
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 situations.
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 or competition.
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 aware of:
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.