Breathe and relax! Live in the world and out of the world!

Breathe and relax! Live in the world and out of the world!

A satsang on line with swami Sitaramananda



The topic of today is highly philosophical, yet practical. It is essential to understand it so we know what to do to be healthy and free. Please be ready during this presentation to be able to do 6 practical breathing and relaxation lessons. Make sure you have space to lie down, and that your room be ventilated.

1. Lie down in sarvasana posture and learn to breathe abdominally, without pillow or with pillow. Get a pillow ready, the more it is heavy it is better.

2. sit up either on chair or cross legged on the ground and learn to breathe and relax sitting up.

3. while sitting up, learn Kapalabati breathing (cleansing of the lungs) .

4. learn basic Anuloma Viloma basic, alternate nostril breath, without retention and with retention.

5. lie down again, and learn to breathe and relax  along with positive affirmations. 6. Last, learn tense and release and complete guided relaxation.

Why the topic of today?

The truth these days of Corona virus pandemic is we loose ourselves and our minds drifted in confusion. We are stressed and we have tendency to not breathing correctly. We  panicked and reacted this way or another.  The news of the world took our well being away, thought by thought, breath by breath. We are caught up in the alarming and contradictory news. The world seems to be negative and conflictual. The focus nowadays  is “disease”, not “health”. Our key words are “ death count”, “wear masks!” , “wash hands!”, “social distancing”, “ go back to normal”, “ the old normal”, the “new normal”.

Today I like to introduce you two new key words:  “breathe and relax”! a new motto “breathe and relax!”

Why breathe and relax are two important practices to remember at all times?

Breathing is life affirming. It reminds us to stay healthy, body-mind-spirit while living.  

Relaxation is be detached from the illusory world of our mind. So…breathe and relax!

Disclaimer:  right breathing and right attitude towards life will not prevent you from getting the virus, but it will boost your immune system and your quality of life and even if you get sick, you will be stronger to heal and you will be more equipped to know what to do to help yourself.

Switch it around: Think of Health and not of disease!

  • Health is our birthright! We are the master of our health, we are not victim.
  • Our life is worth living, therefore struggle to attain true health and to remain positive. This inner affirmation about our worthy life is a good start to help us struggle for self improvement. Breathe for your life! Relaxation gives us life !
  • Life is sacred, need to see the sacredness in our life and in life surrounding us. This right attitude will bring health in our life.
  • You are equipped and supported by Mother Nature, remember her, go back to Nature. Happy Mothers’ Day!
  • Go back to basics… and build up resilience and increase our immunity the natural way! We are equipped with the Power of conscious intention.

Our Thought power is in our hands! Negative thoughts spread like virus. But we are Master of our destiny.

  • Focus on Health and not on disease. You can build your health !
  • We are essentially free. Focus on our innate freedom! All is good. We are strong and courageous. Everything happens because we have lessons to take away!

Think of the analogy of the lotus flower :

The lotus is a beautiful and very fragrant flower that grows out from the mud. The lotus is the symbol well used by meditators. The lotus represents spiritual life It is the theme of this webinar: “ How to live in the world of pains and sufferings and be free!” In other words:” how to live out our karmas and be free!”

What is the true nature of the world?

  • There is no objective world. The world seems to be external to ourselves. But the world is in fact a projection of our mind, according to the yogis. The world is the stage where our karmas will be played out.

We are not living in the same world. Depending on our karma we will perceive the world differently.

From another point of view the world is a creation of God. Both ways of explanation say that it is not material or objective, not something we can control or see with our worldly mind but it is a matter of consciousness.

  • Our mind’s projections are called “the world”: We are attached to our projections of our ideas about people outside of ourselves. Our repeated mind projections create an idea that the world is solid and real.
  • As we keep remembering our past experiences as recorded in our minds and as we keep projecting them out or as our consciousness keeps choosing the same outcome, we replay more or less the same scenario and the world appears as objective.
  • This projected world seen as solid and real outside of ourselves consists of objects. We live in the world of objects and we forget that they are the products of our minds and consciousness at the first place. These objects are perceived by our senses therefore the world we live in is termed a “sensual world”.

Who am I? I am not the objects of my perception and attachments.

The objects of our perception (and attachments) can be:

  • Our body
    • people or things: people can be our family and friends,  things can be our home and work environment, familiar landscape or our possessions.
    • phenomena of nature, made of the five gross elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether). These gross elements exist in their subtle form in the mind.

But Who is the subject, the perceiver?

I am. We are, our True Self is. Objects are multiple, but the Self is One: The key to find peace at all times is to remember the One consciousness in all people, things and phenomena of nature.

Objects change while consciousness remains same. The body changes, ages and dies but consciousness remains untouched.

How to live in the world, find the subject and be free?

  • The idea of the world creates duality and separation. Unless we develop equal vision and see that it is all One, all God, it is better to not be lost in the world. We need to rethink our concept of the world to be free from separation. This is why yogis turn inwards in the beginning of the journey. They are not being egoistic but need to start from their own consciousness.
  • Our lesson is to detach from objects to realize our inner truth or Atman. The Atman is the Self present in all. It is not changing, stable and ancient, perfect and free, all pervading and all knowing. Sensual world is not real: Yogis turn inwards and transcend the sensual world to perceive the Self beyond the projections of the mind.
  • The Self is the subject: Realize your Self at all times as the consciousness underlying all things. The subject is beyond the senses, beyond duality and is Sat-Chit-Ananda.
  • The Self is found in the here and now: In the here and now we can access our consciousness, free from the imprints of the past or the projected future.
  • As a result of karma, we never lived in the here and now: Meditation frees us from karma by bringing us to the here and now. The play on the stage of the world is our karma.
  • Lessons from Master Sivananda (photo)

Swami Sivananda says that the world is your best teacher. There is a lesson in everything.

His last words: “remember, forget! “ (remember the Self, God and forget everything else)

He sees the world with one eye and contemplates the Self with the other eye

  • Lessons from Siva, the first Yogi: (photo)

He is often depicted with eyes half closed and half open. This represents an ideal state of mind that yoga practitioners want to achieve, of being “in the world and out of the world”, seeing the world of names and forms and changing phenomena that we live in, and at the same time seeing the essence of it, as opposed to seeing the manifested world as devoid of spirit and intelligence.

He also is depicted with the third eye open. This means that we are encouraged to see the world with our eye of intuition, or with a mind that has been purified of its lower propensities such as anger, greed, lust, hatred, jealousy and envy. Intuition is higher than intellect. Intuition can be developed only when we transcend duality, or the left brain/right brain split. It includes devotion, or pure love, while intellect might miss half of the picture if there is no pure love in the thinking, or when the thinking is motivated by the ego. 

  • Lessons from Mother Nature! Happy Mother’s Day!

Nature even though is outside of ourselves is close to our hearts: We can easily commune with Nature and find our Oneness with Nature. We feel less lost in the world of nature than the world of our mind. We have a symbiotic relationship with Her. This is our spiritual relationship with God or with the Divine Mother.

Tuning to Nature is a positive way to live in the world: It is easier to find ourselves in the world of nature out of the busy-ness of cities where chaotic and confused human thoughts are bouncing on each other. Nature is God’s mind Projections: Tuning to Nature makes us humble and opens our hearts. It helps us to surrender the egos and calm our minds. (For example a disturbed mind gains much by working in the garden, walking in the sun or swimming in the river).

Nature is powerful (example storms, floods, snow fall, extreme weather conditions) but it is easier to surrender to Her and accept that she is the teacher of our ego. Modern science tried to control and manipulate Her at high prices.

The Sivananda Yoga of synthesis is the wonderful way to attain that sublime state of mind. 

  • It combines in daily life the yogic techniques from the classical 4 paths of Yoga.  We just need to immerse ourselves in the theory and practice of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga, plus the philosophy of Vedanta and the techniques of self enquiry of Jnana Yoga. Tools for living in and out of the word: Serve, give, love, purify, meditate, realize.
  • However, remember what Swami Sivananda said: ” one ounce of practice equals tons of theory!“. 

Let’s practice!

1. Breathe and relax lying down: In sarvasana posture and learn to breathe abdominally, without pillow or with pillow. Get a pillow ready, the more it is heavy it is better.

2. breathe and relax sitting up: sit up either on chair or cross legged on the ground. 

3. Lungs cleansing exercises: while sitting up, learn Kapalabati breathing .

4. Balancing breath exercise: learn basic Anuloma Viloma basic, alternate nostril breath, without retention and with retention.

5. Breathe and relax either lie down or sit up again, along with positive affirmations applying  the 4 paths of Yoga

  1. Karma Yoga

Breathe and relax! May all karmas become Selfless service.

Breathe and relax! I detach from the results of my actions.

Breathe and relax! I Purify my thoughts and emotions to be free from karma.

Breathe and relax! I am not doing anything.

Breathe and relax!I am not  running away. I am doing my duty while I breathe and relax.

Breathe and relax! I Stop doing actions confirming my separateness.

  • Bhakti Yoga

Breathe and relax! ILove God in all!

Breathe and relax! I accept and Self surrender to everything as God’s will . Breathe and relax! I sublimate my emotions and I am detached from my emotions.

Breathe and relax!  I amPure Love and I open my Heart to all of Creation. Breathe and relax! My devotion to the Divine makes me see beyond the objects to see God. I see God in the world.

Breathe and relax! I am free from all emotional identification and attachment.

Breathe and relax!  I have faith. I am humble and capable of letting go of my own ego.

Breathe and relax! I am compassion for others and for my self.

  • Raja Yoga/ Hatha Yoga

Breathe and relax! I am free from efforts in all of my postures or asanas.

Breathe and relax! I balance and purify my prana and calm down my mind.

Breathe and relax! my understanding and intellect are becoming clearer. 

Breathe and relax! I am dissolving my sense of separateness of Body/Mind in this Meditation.

Breathe and relax! I am detached towards the thoughts in my mind.

Breathe and Relax! I slow down my impulsiveness and my reactive tendencies and my thoughts become clear.

Breathe and relax! I am balanced and content. I practice pranayama to balance myself.

Breathe and relax! I am neither active nor passive. I am neither left brained nor right brained.

Breathe and relax! I am free from stress, I am free from my personality.

Breathe and relax! I amneither logical, linear nor emotional, artistic

Breathe and relax! I am neither male nor female.

Breathe and relax!  I am neither sun nor moonenergy

Breathe and relax! I am not going out searching neither going in hiding. Breathe and relax! I am the lotus. Fragrant and beautiful and free.

Breathe and relax! I am neither referring to past nor future

Breathe and relax! I am in the Here and Now. I am content to be in the present. I Let go of the past story.

Breathe and relax! I am my eternal Soul and I accomplish everything while being. I am One.

  • Jnana Yoga

Breathe and relax! I practice Self Enquiry : who am I?  while relaxing.

Breathe and relax! I detach from my body/mind. I am detach from my false self .

Breathe and relax! I am living, I am alive, I am detached.

Breathe and relax! I am learning my lessons and I am free from ignorance.

Breathe and relax! I assert my own Self in the face of a changing world. Breathe and relax! I assert what is True about my own Self and I get out of the projected world of my mind.

Breathe and relax! I detach from everything. I am the Self that is Pure Love.  It is not rejection.

Breathe and relax! I Amfearless.

Breathe and relax!  I See Divinity in my own Atman – I see the Truth about my own Life

Breathe and relax!  I am pure consciousness in everything, in all situations and all things.

Breathe and relax!  I see with the 3rd eye, the eye of intuition. I see intuitively with my inner spirit.

Breathe and relax! I see unity behind all things. I go beyond the preconceived ideas of the mind about myself, people and things.

Breathe and relax!  I am beyond what I like and what I dislike. I am not seeing what my ego wants.

Breathe and relax! I reconcile the split, the separation inside and outside; here and there; this and that ; me and God; you and me, Good and bad. Breathe and relax! I remain centered dwelling on my own Self. Nothing can touch me, affect me. I am fine, I am perfect. I have always been fine even when I thought I was not fine I was fine.

Breathe and relax!  I AM.

6. Guided relaxation : learn tense and release of muscles and gradual auto suggestions.

Wake up , take away points:

What is the main thing in question here during COVID time ?   Our respiratory system, the very life we breathe in is being threatened.

To deal with it , what do we do? Affirm our life! Our birthright! breathe more! relax more! Be in the world (breathing) and out of the word (relaxing) .

This is the solution to all questions.

We dedicate our breathe to the health and the awakening of all… Om Trayambhakams  …

Hare Om Tat sat.

Asana How To Videos

Asana How To Videos

Swami Jnaneswariananda is from the Yoga Farm in Grass Valley CA and has been a yoga teacher since 1996. She teaches in the teacher training courses along with the Yoga Health Educator program focusing on Anatomy & Physiology and how to modify the postures.

In this video on Adjustments to Key Poses in the Sivananda Sequence, Swami Jnaneswariananda gives a detailed review of 4 of the sivananda postures.

01:00 Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
11:54 Pada Hastassana – Standing Forward Bend
19:20 Ardha Matsyendrasana – Half Spinal Twist
29:40 Kakasana – Crow Pose

Swamiji shows us how to do the poses correctly and some common mistakes along with the pose benefits & some small corrections in the pose.

In this video on Exploring the Sivananda Shoulderstand Cycle, Swami Jnaneswariananda gives a detailed review of coming into the shoulderstand, the plow, the bridge, and the wheel.

11:24 Adaptations for Shoulderstand and Plow
19:44 Moving in and out of Bridge and Wheel
27:51 Other Variations
32:45 Advanced Variations for Plow and Shouldertand

Swamiji shows us how to do the poses correctly, how to adpat the posture for certain body types and some key techniques to improve in the practice.

In this video on Sivananda Yoga Gentle Modifications and Advanced Variations of the Shoulderstand & Fish Pose, Swami Jnaneswariananda gives a detailed review of these 2 sivananda postures and their gentle modifications and advanced variations.

01:00 Modifications for Shoulderstand using the Wall
06:42 An Advanced Variation of the Shoulderstand – The Candle
11:05 The Fish Pose – Matsyasana
17:41 A Gentle Modification for the Fish Pose
19:54 An Advanced variation of the Fish Pose – Lotus Fish

Increase Prana for Stress Relief

Increase Prana for Stress Relief

Stress is a subjective feeling, when you feel that your survival is being threatened. You cannot avoid stress. Yoga teaches us how to increase prana so we can respond to stress properly, in a better manner.

Stress Resilience

Stress resilience is our capacity to be strong, to be able to deal with daily life-stress. Some people say, “Oh, you know I am so stressed, I won’t do anything.” They stay home. Do you think the stress will disappear? No, you cannot avoid the stress, so you do need to understand it properly in order to deal with it. 

Stress arises when you don’t have the Prana (life force) to resolve questions or problems encountered in daily life. Prana can be increased by following a proper lifestyle (the 5 Points of Yoga). Decreasing the expenditure or wastage of Prana is also important, through healthy choices and proper lifestyle.


The question of Prana is very important if we want to understand stress. Because if you have high Prana then you can deal with anything. Any challenge that comes, you know you have the energy to deal with it.

But if you don’t have energy, you already function out of energy debt, called Pranic debt. That means you spend more energy than you make, and you don’t know how to recharge. Then a situation arises and you feel overwhelmed. You burn out. 

When prana is low you develop a stress response that is inappropriate to the challenge. The best way to prevent stress is to always store up the Prana.

We should not spend everything that we get. We need to keep some Prana in storage and that we always need to rest and rejuvenate every day. Pranic debt (low energy) is the first cause of stress. 

So, you need to learn how to recharge yourself by practice of the 5 Points of Yoga. Do the asanas to make the Prana flow. Learn how to breathe properly, so whenever you are feeling stress, the important thing is to stop for a moment and breathe.

Proper Breathing

We breathe all the time, but we forget to breathe properly. So, when you are stressed exhale, long exhalation. The long exhale switches your nervous system to the parasympathetic response, the relaxation response. You inhale, but you exhale long and deep.

Group of students practice pranayama together on the yoga deck.
Studnets practice pranayama during the Yoga Teachers Training Course at the Yoga Farm.

If you are stressed and you feel the negative thoughts come up, then you might sit down, don’t run. Sit down, turn inward and practice deep breathing.

Relaxation and Diet

Proper relaxation allows us to recharge the Prana, to let go and detach from body and mind. Physical tension is released from the muscles and the Prana flows more easily.

Proper diet, eating fresh and easily digestible foods, increases Prana. Avoid foods that are difficult to digest, rich or heavy foods, that would decrease one’s Prana.

Eating a healthy diet full of whole grains, vegetables and protein is an important way to increase prana.


Finally, meditation and positive thinking help us to focus the mind and to channel the Prana. Connecting to our higher Self, we are less likely to stress the details. We are able to maintain a broader vision of our Self, channeling our Prana with inspiration and creativity to express our life’s purpose. 

Other Articles of Interest

Yoga and the Koshas for Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

Yoga and the Koshas for Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

Yoga and the Koshas for Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

by Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Yoga Farm Director

Swami Sitaramananda is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda and acharya of the US West Coast centers and Ashram.  Swamiji is also the acharya of the Sivananda mission in Asia, especially in Vietnam, where she hails from.

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Yoga Heals on the Spiritual, Mental and Physical Levels.

Here’s how – Yoga works on all three bodies: the physical body, astral body, and causal body. In this article, we will learn about three bodies and how Yoga heals them.

Each person has a physical body made of matter, an astral body containing prana and thoughts, and a causal body which contains the quality of spirit.

The three bodies are made up of the five “koshas” or sheaths. Below is a breakdown of the three bodies and their corresponding koshas:

Physical Body – The Vehicle for the Soul

Annamaya Kosha – The Food Illusion Sheath

  • Made of food
  • Composed of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether.
Astral Body – A Subtle Body that the Eyes Cannot See

Pranamaya Kosha – The Energy Body

  • Made of prana or vital life force
  • Physical body is able to live and act because of prana

Manomaya Kosha – The Mind

Vijnanamaya Kosha – The Intellect

Causal Body – The Core from Which Your Karma Originates

Anandamaya Kosha – The Bliss Sheath

  • A thin veil of ignorance
  • Subtle identification with separateness
  • Here you experience your true blissful nature

To help you understand, it’s good to know that the sanksrit word “maya” means illusion and “kosha” means sheath. All of the five koshas are illusory sheaths that are veiling the reality of your true nature as Satchitananda—Existence, Knowledge and Bliss Absolute.

A graphic illustrating the three bodies and the five koshas: Physical Body, Astral Body, Causal Body. Annamaya kosha, Pranamaya kosha, Manomaya kosha, Vijnanamaya kosha, and Anandamaya Kosha.

How to Purify the Three Bodies

Yoga is purification. That is why in Sivananda Yoga we focus primarily on the purification process. The purification process means you have to clean out the gross veils, all these aforementioned maya sheaths (the koshas), in order for you to see through to the Self.

The good news is that there are many different ways to purify. Below are the ways you can purify each kosha. Then you can experience health and peace of mind.

How to Purify the Physical Body

Firstly, you purify the gross physical body and identification with it. This can be accomplished through asanas (yoga postures) and the practice of proper vegetarian diet. If you eat a proper diet then your body will function properly and will not be a hindrance.

Proper Exercise – Asana
  • Removes blockages and toxins in the body
  • Increases strength and flexibility
  • Tones organs, tissues and muscles
  • Reduces stress
  • + many more health benefits
Proper Diet – Vegetarian
  • A proper diet is Sattvic or pure
  • Avoid foods that dull or overstimulate the mind
  • Food prepared with digestive spices
  • Food that is not overcooked or undercooked
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol
  • Organic, whole, unprocessed foods
  • A vegegtarian diet follows the principle of Ahimsa (non-violence)
  • Heals and prevents disease and toxic buildup in the physical body
  • Provides full range of nutrition for optimal function

How to Purify the Astral Body

Secondly, the pranamaya kosha is purified through pranayama, or control of prana. Pranayama involves breathing exercises that help remove blockages and regulate the flow of prana in the pranamaya kosha.

Pranayama – Proper Breathing

Complete Yogic Breath

  • Control of Breath = Control of Prana
  • Use the full lung capacity
  • Inhale and exhale into the diaphragm, ribcage and chest
  • Reduces stress; activates parasympathetic nervous system


  • Forceful exhalation, passive inhalation
  • Removes stail air from the lungs
  • Clears blockages in the Nadis or energy system
  • Increases mental clarity, concentration and focus

Anuloma Viloma

  • Alternate Nostril Breathing
  • Balances prana, mind and emotions
  • Increases pranic energy and overall vitality
  • Leads to mental and emotional health

Thirdly, you can purify the Manomaya kosha through meditation, positive thinking, proper behavior, karma yoga (selfless service), bhakti yoga (devotion), yamas and niyamas (yogic ethics). The Manomaya kosha is the mind, emotions and the senses, and in it you also have the subconscious.

Dhyana – Meditation
  • Connects us with a Reality beyond thoughts and emotions
  • Brings inner strength and peace of mind
  • Provides clarity of purpose in life
  • Increases concentration
Positive Thinking
  • Being aware of negative thoughts
  • Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
  • Practice positive affirmations
  • Over time eradicate negative and wrong thinking
Yamas and Niyamas
  • Ethical foundation of Yoga
  • Yamas include: Non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity, and non-greed
  • Niyamas include: purity, contentment, austerity, scripture study, and surrender of the ego
  • Purifies the mind and the heart, removes selfishness

A plate of delicious, organic, vegetarian food at the Sivananda Yoga Farm.
Bhakti Yoga
  • Sublimates the emotions to devotion
  • Opens the heart
  • Surrender to God
Karma Yoga
  • “Do your best, surrender the rest”
  • Let go of attachments to results of action
  • Purifies the heart and the ego
  • Overcome likes and dislikes
  • Gain a flexible mind

    Fourthly, in order to purify the Vijnanamaya kosha, you have to purify the intellect and ego. In order to purify the ego you need get the selfishness out of the way through selfless service or Karma YogaMorever, you can purify the intellect through self inquiry, jnana yoga techniques, and meditation.

    Jnana Yoga
    • The Study of Vedanta (Yoga Philosophy)
    • Highest level of knowledge
    • Knowledge passed down by Rishis or enlightened sages
    • Teaches unity of life
    • Proclaims the common Self in All
    • The limited ego or “little s” self makes you feel separate
    • Your true nature, or “Big S” Self is one with everything
    Self Inquiry
    • Self inquiry is a Jnana Yoga technique
    • Always inquire: “Who am I?”
    • Assert the you are Brahman, the imperishable supreme soul
    • Brahman is one with everything
    • Brahman is Sat (existence) Chit (knowledge) Ananada (bliss) absolute
    • Happiness is your true nature

    In order to practice Jnana Yoga and self inquiry, you must always ask “Who Am I?”. In addition you negate any attachment to the limited, illusory world or false sense of self. Meditation will show you that the intellect is also limited.

    Eventually with practice you will know the intellect is limited because you have the experience of the absolute, infinite, primordial Self. This experience is known as Samadhi. 

    Finally, through Samadhi you transcend the Anandamaya kosha. Meditation already leads you to anandamaya kosha, but your view of the Self is still being obstructed by a thin veil of spiritual ignorance.

    The thin veil of spiritual ignorance is burned when you experience Samadhi, or complete absorption of the mind. Only at that time do you know that the reality is more than the anandamaya kosha, and you go beyond that kosha and merge with the Supreme.

    Conclusively, the four paths of yoga lead to the unveiling of the five koshas and heal on a spiritual, mental and physical level. The four paths of Yoga are karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga (which includes Hatha Yoga) and jnana yoga.

    In other words, practicing the five points and the four paths of yoga will lead the three bodies to be healed. When you remove spiritual ignorance,  you come closer your True Nature. That is to say you experience spiritual, mental and physical health.


    The classical Yoga teaching is always about Self-realization, with nothing else but that realization as the end goal. However, spiritual ignorance makes us believe ourselves to be something other than Self, which is when we are identifying with the vrittis (thought waves).

    Alternately, we identify with our thinking in the mind and then the thinking becomes solidified and it manifests as karma. After that, the soul is born in the physical body in order to work through solidified karmic tendencies that come from the spiritual ignorance in the first place.  

    For the healing aspect of yoga, we have to go into the deep root cause of the wrong thinking in the first place. Because of this, Yoga primarily focuses on spiritual progress. In order for spiritual progress to take place, there must be removal of the impurities in all three bodies. 

    © Swami Sitaramananda 2018 – No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.

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    Swami Vishnudevananda Asana Gallery

    Swami Vishnudevananda Asana Gallery

    Swami Vishnudevananda Asana Photos

    Swami Vishnudevananda was made the Hatha Yoga Professor at the age of 18 upon arriving at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, India.

    He said that all of his past life knowledge of hatha yoga came back to him when Swami Sivananda initiated him and touched his third eye.

    Enjoy these Swami Vishnudevananda asana photos of Swamiji as a young man in India performing asanas basic, intermediate, and advanced.

    Savasana – Corpse Pose

    Swami Vishnu lying in Corpse Pose



    Sun Salutations


    Headstand Cycle

    Headstand, legs apart, Lotus Headstand, Scorpion


    Shoulderstand Cycle

    Shoulderstand variations, Plough, Knees to Ears, Wheel, One leg up, Lotus Fish


    Sitting Forward Bend Cycle

    Legs apart, one leg lotus, butterfly, ankle twist, frog’s pose, shooting bow, foot behind the head


    Backbending Cycle

    Cobra, King Cobra, Full Locust, Full Bow, Diamond, Pigeon


    Twisting and Sitting Postures

    Half spinal twist, Full spinal twist, Vajrasana, Padmasana


    Balancing Postures

    Crow, Side Crow, Peacock, Handstand, Tiptoe, Cock pose, One knee one foot pose


    Standing Postures

    Standing forward bend, Triangle, Twisting triangle, Head to foot pose, Nataraj Dancer pose


    Savasana – Corpse Pose

    Increase Prana for Stress Relief

    The Science of Relaxation

    The Science of Relaxation
    by Swami Sitaramananda
    AUGUST, 2018
    Sivananda yoga teaches us the art and science of relaxation so we can be calm and poised in all of life’s ups and downs.
    The struggle for existence is all around us. There is competition and stress in every walk of life. This problem has become very difficult. There is unemployment everywhere. Brilliant young people with good education can hardly get a job these days.

    A great deal of mental and physical strain is imposed on modern people by daily stress and and unhealthy life style.

    Modern Stress can be overwhelming.

    Artificial habits

    People have lost their connection to nature.   We have tension in our muscles and nerves and have forgotten how to relax.  If you practice relaxation, no energy will be wasted. During relaxation the muscles and nerves are at rest.

    The prana or energy is stored up and conserved. The vast majority of persons who have no comprehensive understanding of this beautiful science of relaxation simply waste their energy by creating unnecessary movements of muscles and by putting the muscles and nerves under great strain.

    People have lost their connection to nature.   We have tension in our muscles and nerves and have forgotten how to relax.

    Signs of Stress

    There are many symptoms of stress (put link from powerpoint). Insomnia, eating disorders, digestive problems, nervous tension in the body, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular problems and allergies are all such symptoms which can lead to other diseases.

    Three types of stress

    There are three types of stress:  physical, mental and spiritual.

    Physical stress comes with wrong posture, wrong dietary habits, short breaths, and inappropriate use or overexertion of the body.

    Mental stress is the main cause of physical stress.  This includes negative emotional stress due to the pressure of daily life, difficulty to adapt to changes, and undigested emotional experiences or unfulfilled desires.

    Stress can come on at any time.

    Stresses of Modern Life

    In our modern technological urban societies, life is very fast and demanding.  People are expected to perform, to multitask, to be focused and productive.  They spend more prana than they recharge.

    Furthermore, people are caught up in consumer’s society and multi media society where there is pressure to consume and shop, to be updated of things that are in fact irrelevant to our lives. The demands of modern society drain us from our resources and prana and left us empty and weak.

    Additionally, we are losing true family and friends support to help us to deal with stress. The society becomes complex, relationships become also unfulfilling and we live in a permanent pranic debt leading to chronic stress.

    Stress leads to Negative Emotions

    This kind of life produces negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, and discontentment.  These negative emotions can be short term or long term.  Long term negative emotions can go back to before birth and display as certain personality traits.

    Life events will aggravate these tendencies, or may help the person to switch to more positive habits.  Thus stressful situations can be an opportunity for growth.  Indeed, it is stressful to have to face our past tendencies and unresolved stories.

    To say the least, this kind of intense mental and emotional churning can consume lots of our energy, or prana.

    Long term negative emotions can go back to before birth and display as certain personality traits.

    Spiritual Stress

    Spiritual stress is often overlooked.  It is not the loss of a job, changes in relationships, our environment or an economic crisis that creates stress.  It is the underlying existential questions that are hidden within, without any answers, that create permanent underlying anxiety in all of us.

    Questions are often asked such as, ‘who am I?’, ‘why did this happen to me?’, ‘what is life?’, ‘what is death?’, ‘what is my priority?’, ‘who can I trust?’, ‘who is God?’, ‘what is my relationship with others?’.

    Our elders, parents, family members, friends or teachers often are not able to help or guide us to find answers.  We experience fundamental loneliness and lack of sustainable direction and wisdom.

    Above – Learn to relax by spending time in nature and practicing yoga.

    Three kinds of relaxation

    Relaxation induces health. There are three kinds of relaxation: physical, emotional, and spiritual.  The art of relaxation includes these 3 levels of relaxation leading to the 3 levels of health.

    Technically, physical relaxation is termed savasana in yoga, the ‘corpse pose’.  Normally, even when trying to rest, we expend physical and mental energy through tension.  In general, physical relaxation is maintaining good posture in all activities to avoid muscle tension. Conscious physical relaxation releases blockages and facilitates the blood flow bringing oxygen to all parts of the body and to all organs in particular the brain.

    Science of Relaxation

    In particular, savasana is the science of relaxation and is a progressive, conscious relaxation of body and mind that allows us to finally detach from involvement with the body and return to our peaceful self.  Consciously tensing and releasing our muscles in savasana from the toes, reaching up to the eyes, ears and head, helps to bring our body and mind to their natural efficiency. During complete relaxation, there is little or no energy , or prana, being consumed.

    Consciously tensing and releasing our muscles in savasana from the toes, reaching up to the eyes, ears and head, helps to bring our body and mind to their natural efficiency.

    Mental Relaxation

    Emotional, or mental relaxation is achieved by breathing slowly and rhythmically, specially by exhaling slowly and deeply. Also, emotional relaxation is achieved through not holding grudges, frustrations or hatred towards anybody or anything. On the contrary, the relaxed yogi sends love to everyone, accepts everyone, and forgives everyone. The heart is open in trust and faith.

    The yogi sees the divine in all happenings, so, it is easier for him or her to surrender and to adapt to what’s happening. The Yogi lives in the here and now, free from expectations and preconceived ideas. The mind of a yogi is free from likes and dislikes, or attractions, attachments and aversions.  He or she is selfless and connected to the core contentment and peace within the Self.

    Meditation as a Tool

    Meditation is an important tool to achieve this detached and relaxed state of mind. However, it should be noted that a relaxed state of mind doesn’t mean a random state of mind and being, a free for all.  In fact, this is a distracted state of mind. On the contrary, the mind of a relaxed Yogi is grounded but inward and upward focused and calm.

    Ordinarily, we want to relax our mind by escaping our reality through constant changing of activities and entertainments. As a result, the mind becomes more desirous, dissatisfied and scattered. We constantly change our focus, and become restless looking for happiness in imperfect outer objects and things. This will lead to stress and disappointments, not to relaxation and peace. 

    Read more about learning to focus in this blog post by Swami Sitaramananda.

    Practicing Meditation and Positive Emotions we can heal ourself.

    Emotional Health through Pure Love

    Furthermore, mental and emotional relaxation is not being indifferent or being aloof. It is learning what pure love or devotion is. Through the purification of our heart and emotions, we become mature and “emotionally intelligent”. This is an endeavor of a life time, so one needs to be patient.

    How does it work? We need to learn first to regulate our emotions, avoid extremes, extreme highs or extreme lows.  Secondly, we need to learn to calm our desirous heart and to be content and grateful instead for all gifts received.  This journey of mental and emotional discipline will allow us to experience the bliss within. In turn, the bliss experienced within will free us from compulsions and desires.


    In summary, loose life and indulgent life is not relaxation, but a conscious, content and simple life is true relaxation and happiness.

    The science of relaxation leads to spiritual relaxation, a state of freedom and joyfulness when there is no expectation or desire of anything. Instead of anxiety, we experience detachment, contentment  and fulfillment .

    Upcoming Stress Relief and Relaxation courses at the Sivananda Yoga Farm that teaches these techniques.

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