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Chapter 9

Placing all the pieces together

Now you know the different elements of your practice and how they interact. Let's make a quick review.

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Now you have an understanding of the different elements of your practice and how they interact. Today you will put all these pieces together. Here is the overview:

  • Warm-up:  You awake your awareness to the moment by focusing on your breath; you will focus your mind on your body and the sensation arising from it. You will establish a steady breathing that will keep you throughout the entire session. Then you will start with gentle movements and poses to get a better assessment of your body condition. This assessment will guide you to incorporate the following elements to the practice.

  • Flow: You will synchronize your movement with your breath to link a series of poses. The overall goal at this stage is to create energy in your body in the form of heat. This energy will drive the rest of the session. Objectives are more specific to increase oxygen in the blood, accelerate metabolic processes, raise your heartbeat to stimulate your cardiovascular system and elevate your body temperature. The result will be a stimulus of the sympathetic nervous system tapping into your fight or flight response. At the end of this stage, you should feel energetic and focused.

  • Standing poses: Now your body is in an ideal state to perform the most challenging poses. You will condition the muscles to increase strength and flexibility. You will exercise balance to bring stability to the joints. And by the end of this stage, you should feel like you are at the peak of your mental concentration.

  • Seated poses: As energy diminishes, you will perform less demanding poses. You will bring your attention to your ability to engage specific muscles while relaxing others. You will identify and contract muscles that are underperforming (undertoned muscles) while relaxing those that are overperforming (rigid muscles). By stimulating these muscles, you will increase joint stability.

  • Ground poses: You energy levels are now low. These poses are less demanding but still require mental concentration. You still contract undertoned muscles, but you will also look for rigid muscles that need to relax. Focus on a long and steady breath to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, in charge of resting mode functions. This stimulus will create a relaxing state that will help you disengage tensed muscles. Also, it will allow your mind to stay focused.

  • Restorative poses: This poses will accentuate the relaxing state. In such a state, and blood circulation becomes more efficient, and addition to prolonged stretching, it will help all tissue recovering processes. This poses can be performed out of the practice when your body is fatigued and to facilitate your sleep.

  • Savasana: This pose exercises stillness and acceptance. It integrates all the elements of the practice, and intensifying the general feeling of deep reciprocity between the mind and body. 

  • Closing: You take a minute to recognize the immediate effects of the practice. And it is also a right moment in the practice to exercise gratitude.

The structure of your practice will change from daily, while some elements will predominate, demanding more time than others do. Yoga requires a close attention to your intuition. You will sense your levels of energy and concentration. Your goal will be to find balance, and you don't want to be too excited or too lethargic. Only when you are calm, you can genuinely concentrate, to make wise decisions and to perform any task better.

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