This program is suitable for those who are already practising yoga at home or who have been trained in yoga practices to some extent. The practitioner should be able to work out the number of rounds or duration of each practice to suit one's individual needs.
The beginner is advised to consult and practise under the guidance of a yoga teacher or a person competent to teach yoga before continuing the practice on one's own at home.
For more details/information on the practices, please refer to Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha - a Bihar School of Yoga publication.
Sit on a folded blanket, in any of the recommended yoga sitting positions. Make your body still, and when your breath becomes calm and rhythmical, take a slow and deep breath on an inhalation and then exhale while chanting OM with a long 'Ooooooo' and a shorter 'Mmmmm', which ends with the end of the exhalation- about 2/3rds of the exhalation on the 'Ooooooo' and 1/3rd on the 'Mmmmm'. Repeat OM chanting three times.
Assume the base posture with legs stretched directly in front of the body.
Place the hands on the floor by the side of the trunk. Lean backward,
taking support on the straight arms. Become aware of the toes.
Move the toes of both feet slowly backward and forward, keeping the feet rigid. Repeat 10 times.
Remain in the base position as in exercise 1. Move both feet backward and forward as much as possible, bending them from the ankle joints. Repeat 10 times.
Remain in the base position as in exercise 1. Separate the legs, keeping them straight. Keep the heels in contact with the floor. Rotate the right foot clockwise about the ankle. Repeat 10 times.
Rotate the right foot in the same way, but anticlockwise. Repeat 10 times. Repeat the same procedure with the left foot. Then rotate both feet together.
Assume the base position. Place the right ankle on the left thigh. With the assistance of the left hand, rotate the right foot clockwise 10 times then anticlockwise 10 times.
Repeat the same procedure with the left foot.
Assume the base position. Bend the right leg at the knee and clasp the
hands under the right thigh. Straighten the right leg without allowing
the heel or toe to touch the ground. Keep the hands under the right thigh
but allow the arms to straighten. Bend the right leg as much as possible
at the knee, bringing the heel near the right buttock. Repeat 10 times.
Now repeat the same procedure with the left leg.
Assume the base position. Separate the legs as much as is comfortable. Keeping the arms straight, bring the right hand to the left big toe and stretch the left arm behind the back. Keep both arms in one straight line. Turn the head and look backward, directing the gaze to the left hand. Turn the trunk in the opposite direction; bring the left hand to the right, big toe and stretch the right arm behind. This is one round. Repeat 10 or 20 times.
At the beginning, do the exercise slowly, and then gradually increase the speed.
Assume the base position. Fold the right leg and place the right foot on the left thigh. Place the left hand on the left knee and the right hand on the top of the bent right knee. Gently move the bent leg up and down with the right hand, allowing the muscles of the leg to relax as much as possible. Continue this exercise until the right knee starts to touch or nearly touch the floor.
Repeat the same process with the left knee.
After some days or weeks of practice, the knee should comfortably rest on the floor without effort.
In the base position, bring the soles of the feet together. Try to bring the heels as close to the body as possible. Interlock the fingers and place them under the foot. Gently push the knees towards the ground, utilizing the elbows, and bend the body forward. Try to touch the ground with the head; this will be difficult at first.
Keeping the soles of the feet together, place the hands on the knees. Utilizing the arms, push the knees towards the ground, allowing them to bounce upward again. Repeat 20 or more times.
Maintain the same position, but place the hands on the floor behind and to the side of the back, keeping the arms straight. Move the knees up and down 20 times or more.
Hold the arms straight out in front of the body, so they are on the same horizontal plane as the shoulders. Stretch and tense the fingers of both hands. Close the fingers over the thumbs to make a tight fist. Again stretch and tense the fingers. Repeat this movement to times.
Maintain the same position as in exercise 9. Bend the hands at the wrist, as if you are pressing the palms against a wall. From the upward pointing of the fingers, bend the hands at the wrist and point the fingers downward. Again point the fingers upward. Repeat 10 times.
Stay in the same position as in exercise 10, but with only the right hand extended. Clench the right fist and rotate it clockwise 10 times about the wrist. Then rotate the fist anti-clockwise 10 times. Repeat the same movement with the left hand.
Extend both arms in front of the body with the fists clenched. Rotate the fists together, 10 times clockwise and then 10 times anti-clockwise.
Maintain the same position as in 11, but hold both arms outstretched with the hands open and the palms uppermost. Bend both arms at the elbows, touch the shoulders with fingers, then straighten the arms again. Repeat 10 times.
Perform the same exercise but with the arms extended sideways. Repeat 10 times.
Stay in the same position as in exercise 12, variation-i. Make a circular movement from the shoulder joints, keeping the fingers in contact with the shoulders. Repeat 10 times clockwise, then 10 times anti-clockwise. Try to make the circular movement of each elbow as large as possible, bringing the two elbows in contact with each other in front of the chest.
Assume the base position. Slowly move the head backwards and forwards 10 times.
Slowly tilt the head to the left and to the right, first while facing directly forward and then while turning the head to the left and right. Repeat both methods 10 times.
Slowly rotate the head in as large a circle as possible, 10 times clockwise and then 10 times anticlockwise. Do not strain.
Lie flat on your back, with the legs straight and the arms beside and in line with the body. Keeping the right leg straight, raise it off the floor. Rotate it clockwise 10 times, and then 10 times anti-clockwise. Keep the rest of the body, including the head, flat on the floor during the practice. Do not strain.
Stay in the same position as in exercise 16. Raise the right leg and make 10 forward cycling movements, followed by 10 reverse cycling movements. Repeat the same procedure with the left leg.
Using both legs, make alternate cycling movements 10 times forward and then 10 times in reverse.
Now keep the legs locked together and do 10 forward cycling movements, followed by to reverse movements. Keep the rest of the body, including the head, flat on the floor during the practice.
Lie flat on the back. Bend the right leg and bring the thigh near the chest. Interlock the fingers and place them over the knee. Inhale deeply and exhale, emptying the lungs. While retaining the breath outside lift the head and upper portion of the chest and try to touch the knee with the nose. While inhaling, slowly return to the supine position. Relax the whole body. Repeat 10 times with each leg.
Fold both legs and wrap the arms around the knees. Repeat the head and upper chest raising movement 10 times, taking great care that the respiration is coordinated with the physical movement.
Lie flat on the back. Fold both legs up to the chest. Interlock the fingers and place them behind the head. Roll the body from side to side, keeping the elbows on the floor. Do 10 complete rolls.
Remain in the same position; wrap the arms around the knees and rock the whole body on the spinal cord. Try to come to a squatting position on the feet.
Use a folded blanket for this practice, so that no damage is done to the spine. Be careful that the head does not hit the ground with force. Not to be done by persons with spinal problems.
Lie flat on the back, arms at the side of the body, palms facing down. inhale and raise the legs, arms, head and trunk. The head and feet should not be raised more than one foot off the ground. The arms should be held at the same level and in line with the toes. Hold the raised position for a comfortable length of time, then exhale and slowly return to the starting position. Relax the whole body. Do this asana 5 times.
Assume a sitting position with the legs stretched in front of the body.
Make movements as though rowing a boat, keeping the legs together. Make
circular motions, bending the body forward and backward as far as possible.
Do 10 times.
Reverse the rowing movement as though going in the opposite direction. Do 10 times.
Stay in the sitting position with the legs outstretched. Make horizontal circular movements with the arms, keeping them straight and the fingers interlocked Imagine you are grinding wheat between two stones. Move the body only from the waist. Do the exercise 10 times clockwise and then 10 times anti-clockwise.
Assume a squatting pose. Place the fingers under the feet from the inside so that the palms are under the arches with the elbows pressing against the inner sides of the knees. Inhale and raise the head. Exhale, bring the head downward and straighten the legs. Maintain this position for a few seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat the process 10 times.
Assume a squatting pose, hands on the knees. Bend the left knee to the ground while turning the trunk as much as possible to the right. Keep the hands to the knees and look over the right shoulder. Return to the starting position. Repeat the same procedure, twisting the body in the opposite direction. Twist the body 10 times in each direction.
Stand erect with the feet 4 to 9 inches apart. Fix the gaze overhead with the palms facing upward, and look up at the hands. Lift the heels and feel as though you are being drawn upwards. Completely stretch the whole body. Slowly return the heels to the ground. Practice 10 times.
Assume tadasana. Bend from the waist, first to the right and then to the
left. Bend 10 times to each side, then relax the body and stand with the
feet flat on the ground.
If you find it difficult to balance on the toes, you may do this asana standing flat on the feet until you develop a better sense of balance. You should, however try to balance on tiptoe every time you do the asana, just for a few seconds, so that you slowly improve your sense of balance.
Stand erect with the feet about 2 feet apart. Stretch the arms sideways at shoulder level. Twist the upper part of the body to right, bringing the left hand to the right shoulder and wrapping the right arm around the trunk in a smooth motion. Repeat on the opposite side. Practise 10 times, breathing normally.
Position 1: stand erect with the feet together. Place the palms together in front of the chest. Relax the whole body. Normal breathing.
Position 2: raise both arms above the head. Keep the arms separated by one shoulder's width. Bend the head and upper trunk slightly backward. Inhale while raising the arms.
Position 3: Bend forward until the fingers or hands touch the ground on either side or in front of feet.
Try to touch the knees with forehead. Do not strain. Keep the legs straight.
Exhale as you bend forward. Try to contract the abdomen in the final position to expel the maximum amount of air.
Position 4: stretch the right leg back as far as possible. At the same time bend the left leg but keep the left foot in the same position The arms should remain straight and in the same position. In the final position, the weight of the body should be supported on the two hands, the left loot, the right knee and the toes of the right foot. The head should be tilted backward, the back arched and the gaze directed upward. Inhale while stretching the right leg backward.
Position 5: straighten the left leg and place the left foot beside the right foot. Raise the buttocks in the air and lower the head so that it lies between the two arms, the body should form two sides of a triangle. The legs and arms should be straight in the final position. Try to keep the heels in contact with the ground in this pose. Exhale as you straighten the left leg and bend the trunk.
Position 6: lower the body to the ground so that in the final position only the toes of both feet, the two knees, the chest, the hands and the chin touch the ground- The hips and abdomen should be raised slightly off the ground. The breath should be held outside. No respiration.
Position 7: Raise the body from the waist by straightening the arms. Bend the head backward. This stage is the same as the final pose of bhujangasana. Inhale while raising the body and arching the back.
Position 8: this stage is a repeat of position 5. From the arched back position assume the mountain pose as described in position 5. Exhale as you raise the buttocks.
Position 9: this stage is the same as position 4.. Bend
the left leg and bring the left foot forward so that it lies near the hands. Simultaneously lower the right knee so that it touches the floor. Inhale while assuming the pose.
Position 10: this position is a repeat of position 3. Place the right foot next to the left foot. Straighten both legs and try to bring the forehead as close to the knees as possible. Do not strain if you are unable to touch the knees but do not bend the legs. Exhale while performing the movement.
Position 11: this stage is a repeat of position 2, Straighten the whole body and raise the arms above the head. Keep the arms separated by one shoulder's width. Bend the head and arms backward slightly. Inhale as you straighten the body.
Position 12: this is the final pose and is the same as position 1. Bring the hands in front of the chest and place the palms together. Relax the whole body. Exhale as you assume the final pose.
Stand on the knees with the feet stretched backward and the big toes crossed.
The knees should be together, heels apart. Lower the buttocks onto the
insides of the feet, the heels at the sides of the hips. Place the hands
on the knees, palms downward.
Practise vajrasana as much as possible, especially right after meals for at least 5 minutes to enhance the digestive functions.
Sit in vajrasana, placing the hands on the knees. While inhaling, raise
the arms so that they are stretched vertically above the head. Exhale
while bending the trunk. At the end of the movement, the hands and forehead
should rest on the floor in front of the body. Retain the breath for a
short time in the final position, then while inhaling, return slowly to
the position where the trunk and arms are vertical. Slowly return to the
starting position while exhaling. Repeat up to 10 times.
Normal breathing or even slow deep breathing may be practised in the prostrated stage to prolong the asana.
Sit in vajrasana with the feet and knees slightly apart. Stand on your
knees and stretch the arms to the sides. Lean backward and put the hands
on the heels. Stretch the neck backward and let the body weight rest on
the arms. Arch as far back as possible. Return to the kneeling position
then back to vajrasana.
Inhale while assuming the knee-based position. Exhale while bending backward and while lowering to vajrasana.
Practise a maximum of 10 times. Hold up to 3 minutes as a static pose.
Sit on the floor with the legs straight in front of the body, the lower
arms on the thighs. Relax the whole body, especially the back muscles.
Slowly bend the body forward, sliding the hands along the top of the legs.
Try to grasp the big toes with the fingers and the thumbs. If this is impossible, then hold the heels, the ankles or the legs as near as possible to the feet.
Keeping the legs straight and without utilizing the back muscles, only using the arms, pull the trunk a little lower toward the legs. This should be a gentle process without any sudden movement or excessive strain anywhere in the body. If possible, touch the knees with the forehead. Beginners should only bend forward as far as they can without strain.
Remain in the final pose for a comfortable length of time, trying to further relax the whole body, and then slowly return to the starting position.
Do not bend the legs at the knees, even though you cannot bend the body further forward. Do not force but after regular practice you will be able to touch the knee with the forehead or perhaps even the chin.
Lie on the stomach with the legs straight and the feet extended. Place
the palms flat on the floor under shoulders, Rest the forehead on the
ground and relax body. Slowly raise the head and shoulders off the ground,
bending the head as far back as it will go. Try to raise the shoulders
without using the arms, only utilizing the back muscles. Now bring the
arms into action and slowly bend the back as much as possible without
strain until the arms are straight. Keep the navel as near to the ground
as possible. Hold as long as comfortable.
Inhale while raising the body from the ground. Breathe normally in the final pose. If the final pose is held for a short time, retain the breath inside.
Practise up to 5 times.
Lie flat on the back with the arms beside and in line with the body, palms facing upward. Move the feet slightly apart to a comfortable position and close the eyes. Relax the whole body. Do not move any part even if discomfort occurs. Let the breath become rhythmic and natural. Become aware of the inhalation and exhalation. Count the number of respirations : 1 in, 1 out, and so on. Continue to count for a few minutes. If the mind starts to wander bring it back to the counting. If you can keep the mind on the breath for a few minutes, the mind and body will relax.
Lie flat on the stomach. Raise the head and shoulders and rest the head in the palms of the hands with the elbows on the ground. Relax the whole body and close the eyes. Breathing is natural and rhythmic.
Sit in any of the meditative poses such as padmasana, siddhasana, sukhasana, etc. but not vajrasana. It should be a pose which can be comfortably maintained for at least 15 minutes. Place the hands on the knees, straighten the spine, hold the head upright so that it faces directly forward and relax the whole body. Close the eyes and mentally prepare the mind and body for the forthcoming practice. For a few minutes be aware only of the body and the breath. Now start the practice.
Stage 1: keeping the left hand on the knee, raise the right hand. The
right fingers should control the flow of air through the nostrils in the
The index and middle fingers should remain on the eyebrow centre (bhrumadhya) throughout the practice. The thumb should be near the right nostril so that it can control the flow of air by pressing the side of the nostril. The third finger should be placed beside the left nostril so that it can control the flow of air in the left nostril.
Close the right nostril with the thumb. Inhale through the left nostril and then exhale through the same nostril. The rate of inhalation and exhalation should be normal. Breathe in and out 5 times. Release the pressure of the thumb on the side of the right nostril. Press the side of the left nostril with the ring finger to prevent the flow of air.
Inhale and exhale through the right nostril. Again the rate of respiration should be normal. Repeat 5 times. Respiration through each nostril 5 times in turn is one round. Practise 25 rounds. The practitioner should not breathe heavily and there should be no sound as the air passes through the nostrils.
After 15 days, leave stage 1 and practise stage 2.
Stage 2: alternate nostril breathing Close the right nostril with the
thumb. Inhale through the left nostril. At the end of the inhalation,
close the left nostril with the ring finger, release the pressure of the
thumb on the right nostril and breathe out through the right nostril.
Then inhale through the right nostril. At the end of the inhalation, close
the right nostril, open the left nostril and exhale through the left nostril.
This is one round.
In this stage, the practitioner should start counting the length of each inhalation and exhalation. The counting should be done mentally by repeating 1-Om, 2-Om, 3-Om, and so on. The time for inhalation and exhalation should be equal. For example, in 5 and out 5, or whatever number is comfortable. Do not strain under any circumstances. After a few days try to increase the period of inhalation and exhalation, maintaining the same 1 to 1 ratio. In other words, try to increase the time of inhalation to 6 and the time of exhalation to 6. When this is easily achieved, try to obtain a count of 7 for inhalation and 7 for exhalation. Do not force the breath in any way. Be careful not to speed up the counting during exhalation to compensate for shortage of breath. At the slightest sign of discomfort reduce the time of each inhalation and exhalation or discontinue the practice for a day.
After 15 days or more, go on to stage 3.
Stage 3: antaranga kumbhaka (inner retention) Close the right nostril.
Inhale through the left nostril. At the end of the inhalation, close both
nostrils-Retain the breath for a count of 5. Exhale through the right
nostril. Then inhale through the right nostril, the left nostril remaining
closed. Again retain the breath for a count of 5, closing both nostrils.
Exhale through the left nostril by opening the left nostril and keeping
the right nostril closed. This is one round. Practise 25 rounds. After
some days of practice, increase inhalation, retention and exhalation gradually
to 7:7:7, i.e. if you breathe in for a count of 7, try to hold the breath
inside for a count of 7 and breathe out for a count of 7.
Practice nadi shodhana after asana and before meditation. Do not retain the breath for longer than is comfortable. Proceed to the next stage only when perfection is achieved in the preceding stage. Learn cautiously under expert guidance.
Sit in a comfortable meditative asana. The spinal cord should be erect
and the head straight. Close the eyes and relax the whole body for a short
time. Keep the mouth closed throughout the practice.
Inhale deeply through both nostrils. Retain the breath inside and plug both ears with the index fingers. Keeping the mouth closed, separate the teeth and slowly exhale, producing a long continuous humming sound like a bee. The exhalation should be slow and steady. Feel the sound vibrations in the brain and be conscious only of the sound. This is one round. Start with 5 rounds and slowly increase the number.
Do not practise in the supine position. Do not strain the lungs in any way.
Sit in any comfortable position. Contract the glottis in the throat, and
perform khechari mudra i.e. fold the tongue back so that the underside
is pressed against the back of the upper palate.
Breathe deeply and softly, like the gentle snoring of a sleeping baby. Feel that you are breathing through the throat only. Practise 25 complete breaths (inhalation and exhalation) or more.
Sit in any comfortable meditative pose. Close the eyes and relax, Close the right nostril and perform 20 rapid respirations through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril and perform 20 rapid respirations through the right nostril. Then with both the nostrils open, perform 20 rapid respirations. The inhalation should be spontaneous with the emphasis on exhalation. Then relax with normal breathing. This is one round. Repeat up to 5 rounds.
Yoga nidra is actually a very simple technique and it can be learned from a tape recording. However, it is preferable for the beginner to practice yoga nidra under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Regular lessons, accompanied by private practice with a tape recording of the same practice used in the class, enable one to understand the technique and to recall all the instructions effortlessly.
Here is a very short class transcription:
Lie down on your back in shavasana ....the body straight from head to toe, legs slightly apart, arms a little away from the body, palms turned upwards...
Now bring about a feeling of inner relaxation in the whole body.....
complete stillness and complete awareness of the whole body....
the practice of yoga nidra begins now.
At this moment, make your resolve....it should be a short, positive statement in simple language....stated three times with awareness, feeling and emphasis....
Rotation of consciousness
We now begin rotation of consciousness, by taking a trip through the different parts of the body.... become aware of the right hand....the right hand thumb, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm, back of the hand, the wrist, the lower arm, the elbow, the upper arm, the shoulder, the armpit, the waist, the hip, the thigh, the knee, the calf muscle, the ankle, the heel, the sole, the top of the right foot, the big toe, second toe, third toe, fourth toe, fifth toe.... become aware of the left hand thumb, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm, back of the hand, the wrist, the lower arm, the elbow, the upper arm, the shoulder, the armpit, the waist, the hip, the thigh, the knee, the calf muscle, the ankle, the heel, the sole, the top of the left foot, the big toe, second toe, third toe, fourth toe, fifth toe...become aware of the back of the neck, the right shoulder-blade, the left shoulder-blade....the right buttock, the left buttock....the spine....the whole back.... the top of the head, the forehead, the right eye-brow, the left eye-brow, the eye-brow centre, the right eye, the left eye, the right ear, the left ear, the right cheek, the left cheek, the chin, the throat, the right side of the chest, the left side of the chest, the navel, the abdomen.... become aware of your whole body lying on the floor...perfectly still and totally relaxed....
Become aware of your breath........your navel is rising and falling with every breath ....concentrate on this movement in synchronization with your breath.. now start counting mentally your breaths backwards from 27 to 1,...27 navel rising....27 navel falling... 26 navel rising...26 navel falling....and so on....
Now we come to visualization ....a number of different things will be named.....try to develop a vision of them on all levels....feeling, awareness, emotion, imagination...as best as you can....
Burning candle.......endless desert,...Egyptian pyramid....torrential rain,...snow-capped mountains....temple at sunrise....stars at night.....full moon....smiling Buddha....wind from the sea....
Repeat the same resolve that you made at the beginning
of the practice.....
Relax all efforts....become aware of the natural breath....of the whole body....your body lying on the floor...totally relaxed....start moving your body and stretching your self....sit up and open your eyes....the practice of yoga nidra is complete.
Hari Om Tat Sat.
If a quick mental relaxation is required and only a chair is available, for example in the office, or in the kitchen while the dinner cooks or in the bus or on the way home from work, then it is best to practise mental awareness of alternate nostril breathing.
Become as still as possible and let your body become loose. Then check yourself quickly for particular areas of tension and try to relax them (e.g. are you frowning? Is your neck stiff? Are your hands clenched?). Tense all the muscles in your body internally and let them relax; repeat this. Focus your attention on the breath moving in and out of the nostrils and maintain your awareness of this for some moments. Imagine that the breath moves in and out of the nostrils alternately; in left, out right, in right, out left, and so on.....start counting the breaths backwards from 27 to 1 (or whatever number you think is appropriate for the time available). Continue this practice for as long as required. When you want to finish, leave the counting and again become aware of the body. Before you get up, take a deep breath and stretch yourself fully. This completes the practice.
Hari Om Tat Sat.
Sit in any meditation posture...spine erect...bands on knees...head straight...eyes closed...
Relax the whole body in this posture...make your body still...
Mentally prepare yourself by saying "I am ready to practise antar mouna".
In this practice, you become aware of only the external situation.....different sounds...and other sense experiences. Concentrate on the external sensations and sounds... with total awareness...don't fight with your sense organs...or with your sense experiences...merely become a witness to these experiences...of the state of awareness...and that you are listening to me... On no account be disturbed by the reaction to these sense experiences...this aspect of the practice is known as pratyahara...the fifth state in raja yoga...withdraw your sense perceptions within yourself by withdrawing them from their sense objects....spontaneously, without any strain...experience whatever is taking place between the sound and the ear...the eyes and form...the skin and touch...the tongue and taste...the nose and smell... the experiencer...ear, nose, etc is the first component...the subject of experience...sound, smell, etc. is the second component...and you as the witnesser to both is the third component...go on watching as a witness or seer.
Now become aware of your thoughts...don't try to control them...let them come...merely be a silent witness to every thought that comes to your mind. When you become aware of a thought, then become aware that you are thinking about that thought...when your mind becomes free from that thought, then become aware of that also.....try to be aware of all thoughts that are coming up spontaneously... Whatever be the thoughts, look at them indifferently ...with detachment...as a witness... If bad thoughts come up, you may set them aside if you do not want to observe them...don't suppress them... they will come to you with greater force the next time-Introvert your awareness...do not stop the thoughts which produce all sort of inner expressions... Go on watching them as a witness... Do not lose yourself in any sort of experiences...you have to maintain the constant awareness "I am the seer or the witness".
There are two parts to this practice... in the first part, it is the experience of senses...ear and sound, etc...sense organ and its experience... in the second, it is awareness of thoughts as a witnesser... now slowly leave the practice and bring your consciousness outside...
If you experience any pain or discomfort, become aware of that also....please do not open the eyes until you have become totally extroverted.
Hari Om Tat Sat.