To start with, be present. Presence is not just physically being in a certain place. It is a state of awareness. Become aware of the space in which you are, your position on your mat, cushion, aware of your body alignment, your spine, your head… if you are standing become aware of your feet, their contact with the ground. If you are seated, become aware where you are seated, how you are seated. Presence is letting go of thoughts of the past and future and connecting with the here and now. Once you are present you are ready to go into the next step which is assuming a proper yoga posture.
Assume your asana, whether a meditative or a regular one, with ease and steadiness. An asana is not any position. It is a stable, steady, comfortable position. Struggling into a posture does not serve the purpose of your practice. Asanas are not positions you sweat to maintain. A beginner will sometimes have to deal with physical blockages before attaining an asana. This is okay, but dealing with physical blockages should be done with full awareness, gently and without any pushing, away for straining the body or violating its limits. Once you are in a posture hold it as much as possible without moving. Seek steadiness in your posture.
Once you are in the asana silence your senses and organs of action. Close your eyes, disregard any sounds or noises that you may hear. Withdraw your attention away from the any external distraction. If you are practicing in a group do not disturb others by talking or exclaiming, and don’t get disturbed by others if they do. Silencing the senses brings steadiness of mind. But the mind will naturally seek an object for thought. The next two steps provide proper object for the mind to dwell on meanwhile.
The proper yogic breath is a deep slow breath. Both the inhalation and the exhalation are done through the nose. As you inhale allow the upper part of your abdomen to rise, and as you exhale, through the nose also, you squeeze your abdomen in. allow your breath to flow deeper and slower, extending the exhalation to about double the time of the inhalation. Each time you exhale extend the time of the exhalation a little bit more. This will allow the next inhalation to be deeper and fuller. Breathing is a conscious act in yoga. Become aware of your breath as it flows in and out. Being aware of the breath gives you more strength and steadiness. It also calms down your temperament. If you are trying to master more difficult asanas the breath will help you do so without a lot of effort from your side.
Introspection is internal analysis. It goes together with breath awareness. Without any intervention, without judgment, become aware of the sensations arising in your body not outside it. Become aware of the changes that the breath and the posture are making. Become aware of the transformation within. Internalize your awareness.
6. Inner Silence / meditation
After the awareness dwells for a while on the breath and the changes in the internal atmosphere, the mind is silenced. At this point meditation starts. The physical practice is now transformed into Yoga. Here Yoga starts. “Yoga is controlling the fluctuations of the mind.”