Below yoga sequence should be used as a guide by yoga teachers to create their own yoga class plans
Karma Yoga: Self-Realization Through Awareness From Yoga Asanas and Meditation
Yoga teachers through the practice of yoga poses and meditation can help students build awareness of the body and mind, and with this awareness the students should be encouraged to practice Karma Yoga . While the practice of yoga poses would initially be on the physical body, the aim should gradually be towards the connection to the thoughts with each yoga pose.
What is Karma Yoga?
In simple words 'karma,' in sanskrit is 'action.' Karma Yoga is one of the four classical schools of yoga, like; Jnana (knowledge), Bhakti (devotion), and Raja (meditation). The path of Karma Yoga is more spiritual and every individual's actions should be of love, awareness, and complete detachment. No action, either by thought, word, or deed should be selfish. These actions should be done purely as a form of seva and one must not wait, or expect any reaction. In simple words do your dharma (duty) without any expectations and attachments to results.
How can the practice of yoga poses and meditation help in practicing Karma Yoga?
Our daily duties and responsibilities should be done in a balanced manner along with awareness. Our decisions on certain matters require a stable mind to help perform the right actions. The final goal with all kinds of actions is to stay detached and this can be mastered through a daily yoga routine. Yoga on the mat should help build the right connections with the body and mind, building complete awareness. This should further build stability and balance. When the mind is in balance while on the yoga mat, the same should be carried out when off the yoga mat. Thus, the impact on the body and mind when on the yoga mat should be carried throughout the student's day to day activities in life.
With practice, students will learn to surrender and accept, and bring about this attitude in their everyday life believing that everything in the universe contains energy and life, and needs to be respected.
Karma Yoga Sequence On The Yoga Mat
Karma Yoga can be practiced better when Jnana Yoga (knowledge) is shared, and the same should be taught by the yoga teachers to their students. In the given yoga sequence the practice of each yoga pose will communicate different feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc., and students should be taught to connect to these. Understanding them and realizing their importance can help students practice Karma Yoga as part of their day to day activities and actions. Through the deeper stretches of the given poses, the feelings and emotions would be different while entering a pose when compared to releasing from a pose. Students should be aware of these differences. Teaching students to listen to their body, thoughts, emotions, while encouraging them to trust the same is critical. Thus, yoga that is practiced on the mat with knowledge and awareness will benefit when practiced off the mat, therefore encouraging the practice of good Karma Yoga.
The given yoga sequence is short and uses certain yoga poses that brings deep stretch to the muscles and also balance in the body. While students connect to these stretches, they should also be taught to stay detached from the body and continue with the practice without hesitating. And eventually with meditation, they should completely stay detached to both their body and their emotions. It is believed that meditation is the best route for Karma Yoga, and the same is done here with the practice of Jnana Mudra, helping students get closer to self-realization.
The practice of Chakra Yoga Sequences are also said to benefit students to help with Karma Yoga, since balancing the chakras helps to keep the thoughts and emotions in balance to help practice good actions.
Karma Yoga: Self-Realization Through Awareness From Yoga Asanas and Meditation: Yoga Poses, Cues, Steps, and Breathing instructions
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A. Begin with the practice of Wide Child Pose, seated on the knees and legs.
B. Exhale and stretch the arms out in front of you as you rest the forehead and chest on the floor.
C. Deep breathing as you connect to the breath and the movement of the body.
D. With each exhalation, SMILE and go deeper with the stretch.
E. Surrender your body to the Earth and breath deep.
F. Always start with the deep connections of the breath and the body to help stay focused throughout the practice.
A. From Wide Child Pose:
Inhale - rise up and sit up with the knees close to each other.
Exhale - extend the torso upwards and sit on the heels.
Inhale/Exhale - to stay for about 2 breaths.
B. As you stay here continue to SMILE.
C. Stretch taking the shoulders back and throwing the chest out. Raise the head up a bit and sit confident.
D. Connect to the sensation at the knees, heels, ankles, and lower back as you sit extending the spine.
A. From Thunderbolt Pose:
Inhale - place the elbows on the floor in front of you.
Exhale - lift your hips and come to stand on your toes
Inhale - loosen the body
Exhale - take the head and chest towards the floor.
Inhale/Exhale - to stay for about 3 breaths.
B. Exhale and go deeper feeling the stretch at the elbows, calves, hamstrings, and shoulders.
C. Connect to each part of the body as you sense the stretch. SMILE and exhale deep.
D. Watch how the body in this posture brings about a sense of tightness initially as all the blood flows towards the head, but when you close your EYES, the feeling is different.
E. Let go of the tightness of the body with slow soft breathing and notice the change the body feels, it is relaxed and supple.
F. Enjoy this feeling.
A. From Downward Facing Dog Pose Variation Forearms:
Inhale - lift the head up and bring the hands on the floor
Exhale - come to Downward Facing Dog Pose
Inhale - stand up taking the feet to the sides and lift the body up
Exhale - bend the knees and stretch the arms out as you balance your body on your TOES
Inhale/Exhale - come to Goddess Pose Variation Forward Bend On Heels.
Inhale/Exhale - to stay for 3 breaths.
B. Exhale and keep balance as you look down. Stretch the arms out throwing the chest down and opening the heart.
C. Stay connected to the stretch at the hips, thighs, knees, ankles, and shoulders. SMILE
D. The feeling of that you are going to fall, the sudden fast breathing, the heart pumping fast, and the sensation of the pressure at the neck and ears.
E. Stay connected to each of these, and slowly keeping the body LOOSE, allow the thoughts to be calm and stay in control of the same.
F. As you move from this pose to come out, quickly connect to those feeling, that could be different for all, like; feeling of relief, feeling of heaviness, lightness, happiness, confidence, etc. These feelings are essential as they help you to practice GOOD KARMA.
G. Feeling of discomfort and bad thoughts should be discouraged and neglected.
A. From Goddess Pose variation Forward Bend On Heels:
Inhale - relax the legs and stand up
Exhale - bring the left foot outwards and the right foot slightly turned inward
Inhale - bend the left knee and raise the arms up
Exhale - move towards the left side and extend the arms out
Inhale/Exhale - to stay in Extended Side Angle Pose Variation Both Arms Raised.
Inhale/Exhale - to stay for about 6 breaths.
Inhale - come out and stand straight
Inhale/Exhale - to repeat with the other side
Inhale/Exhale - to stay for 6 breath
B. Extend as much as you can, and gaze up.
C. Feel the stretch at the hamstrings, psoas, shoulders, and neck. This stretch will make the breathing difficult as the muscles become tight.
D. Make the conscious effort to keep the body loose and slowly stay away from the body stretch and connect to the breath, keeping the EYES closed.
E. The ACTION is the stretch, the REACTION is the stiffness, heaviness, and heavy breathing. But to practice KARMA YOGA, you should slowly stay away from this reaction by being detached to what the body is going through.
F. Taking the practice to the next level is connecting to the thoughts, which will eventually take you closer to self-realization.
A. From Extended Side Angle Pose Variation Both Arms Raised
Inhale - turn the body inwards
Exhale - bring the hand on the floor and stand in Downward Facing Dog Pose Variation Forearms
Inhale/Exhale - to stay for 3 breath to relax
B. Relaxing the body here, connect to the breath along with the thoughts and emotions.
C. Surrender here and stay DISCONNECTED to the feelings in the physical body.
A. From Downward Facing Dog Pose Variation Forearms:
Inhale - lift the head up and bring the left foot forward and bend the knees
Exhale - sit down and extend the arms out touching the floor with the face
Inhale/Exhale - to stay in Sleeping Swam Pose
Inhale/Exhale - to stay for 3 breaths
B. A relaxing pose that will give comfort while also making you feel a sigh of relief.
C. While connecting here, don't encourage a great joy or happiness as the body is relaxed. In fact, learn to give the same attention as you would to the other poses.
D. While you are relaxed keep the mind off the body and connect to the thoughts. Don't get to comfortable with the pose.