Navasana is a seated yoga asana that requires core strength to hold the body in a “V” shape. As well as a range of physical benefits, it is believed to build concentration, stamina and balance.
Its name comes from the Sanskrit, nava, which means “boat,” and asana, which means “posture” or “seat.” It is so called because the shape of the body balancing on the buttocks is thought to resemble a boat floating on the water.
Navasana may also be known simply as boat pose in English.
Bharadvajasana is a seated spinal twist asana and hip opener named after the Hindu guru Bharadvaja. It is also known in English as Bharadvaja’s twist.
The asana has several variations, but the most basic begins in dandasana (staff pose), a seated position with the legs extended in front. The weight is shifted to the right buttock, as the knees bend and the legs drop to the left. The left inner ankle should rest in the arch of the right foot. The upper torso then twists to the right as the right hand rests on the floor behind the body and the left hand rests palm up on the outer right thigh. Only then does the head turn to gaze over the right shoulder. To complete the asana, switch sides and repeat.
Probably the most misunderstood or misinterpreted of all the yogas, tantra, the sixth branch, is the pathway of ritual, which includes consecrated sexuality. The key word here is “consecrated,” which means to make sacred, to set apart as something holy or hallowed. In tantric practice we experience the Divine in everything we do. A reverential attitude is therefore cultivated, encouraging a ritualistic approach to life. It is amusing to note that, although tantra has become associated exclusively with sexual ritual, most tantric schools actually recommend a celibate lifestyle. In essence, tantra is the most esoteric of the six major branches. It will appeal to those yogis who enjoy ceremony and relate to the feminine principle of the cosmos, which yogis call shakti. If you see—and are deeply moved by—the significance behind celebration and ritual (holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other rites of passage), tantra yoga may be for you. Many tantric yogis find magic in all types of ceremony, whether it be a Japanese tea ceremony, the consecration of the Eucharist in a Catholic mass, or the consummation of a relationship.
Combining the Paths
You may already be involved in one or more of these branches. For example, you may already be a hatha yogi or yogini practicing the postures with a teacher or by yourself. If you are a hospice volunteer for AIDS patients, or a participant in a Big Brother/Big Sister program, you are actively practicing karma yoga. Perhaps reading this book will spark an in-depth study of yoga philosophy, setting you on the path of jnana yoga. Remember you need not be limited to one expression—you may practice hatha yoga, taking care of your physical body, while simultaneously cultivating the lifestyle of a bhakti yogi, expressing your compassion for everyone you meet. Trust that whichever avenue of yogic expression draws your interest, it will probably be the right yoga path for you.
In ancient times yoga was often referred to as a tree, a living entity with roots, a trunk, branches, blossoms, and fruit. Hatha yoga is one of six branches; the others include raja, karma, bhakti, jnana, and tantra yoga. Each branch with its unique characteristics and function represents a particular approach to life. Some people may find one particular branch more inviting than another. However, it is important to note that involvement in one of these paths does not preclude activity in any of the others, and in fact you’ll find many paths naturally overlapping.
Raja Yoga Raja means “royal,” and meditation is the focal point of this branch of yoga. This approach involves strict adherence to the eight “limbs” of yoga as outlined by Patanajli in the Yoga Sutra. Also found in many other branches of yoga, these limbs, or stages, follow this order: ethical standards, yama; self-discipline, niyama; posture, asana; breath extension or control, Pranayama; sensory withdrawl, pratyahara; concentration, dharana; meditation, dhyana; and ecstasy or final liberation, samadhi. Raja yoga attracts individuals who are introspective and drawn to meditation. Members of religious orders and spiritual communities devote themselves to this branch of yoga. However, even though this path suggests a monastic or contemplative lifestyle, entering an ashram or monastery is not a prerequisite to practicing raja yoga.
Karma Yoga The next branch is that of karma yoga or the path of service, and none of us can escape this pathway. The principle of karma yoga is that what we experience today is created by our actions in the past. Being aware of this, all of our present efforts become a way to consciously create a future that frees us from being bound by negativity and selfishness. Karma is the path of self-transcending action. We practice karma yoga whenever we perform our work and live our lives in a selfless fashion and as a way to serve others. Volunteering to serve meals in a soup kitchen or signing up for a stint with the Peace Corps or Habitat for Humanity are prime examples of selfless service associated with the karma yoga path.
“Pranayama is control of Breath”. “Prana” is Breath or vital energy in the body. On subtle levels prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force, and “ayama” means control. So Pranayama is “Control of Breath.”
One can control the rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and achieve a healthy body and mind. Patanjali in his text of Yoga Sutras mentioned pranayama as means of attaining higher states of awareness, he mentions the holding of breath as important practice of reaching Samadhi. Hatha Yoga also talks about 8 types of pranayama which will make the body and mind healthy.
Five types of prana are responsible for various pranic activities in the body, they are Prana, Apana, Vyan, Udana & Samana. Out of these Prana and Apana are most important. Prana is upward flowing and Apana is downward flowing. Practice of Pranayama achieves the balance in the activities of these pranas, which results in healthy body and mind.
As interpreted by Chopra and Simon, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga are:
Law of Pure Potentiality: Since you are an unshakeable part of what exists in the physical world, you are also infinitely creative, limitless and eternal.
Law of Giving and Receiving: You must give and receive to experience love, abundance, and anything positive you wish to reverberate through your existence.
Law of Karma (Cause and Effect): Every action generates a returning reaction. If you choose positive actions that bring forth happiness and success, you will, in turn, receive such energy. If you choose negative actions that bring forth pain or suffering, they will boomerang back to you.
Law of Least Effort: By harnessing your energy and offering no resistance, you allow your actions to be motivated by love, tapping into the infinite power of the universe as you do less, yet accomplish more.
Law of Intention and Desire: When you quiet the mind and introduce your intentions through pure potentiality, you galvanize the universe into action, allowing your desires to manifest with ease.
Law of Detachment: Everything, at this moment, is happening as it should be. There is no need to resist or force. Simply intend for everything to unfold as it should, take the action that’s necessary, and allow the results to happen.
Law of Dharma: By expressing your unique gifts to serve others, you will experience unlimited love, abundance, and true fulfillment in your life.