yoga 2
The next stage after the simple breath meditation is to learn some variations.  These are energising, which in yoga means building up a reservoir of prana, the life force.  They will help build a more positive mental attitude, develop the will, and expand your capacity for challenging postures, which yogis call asanas.  This doesn't happen if you read about them. It can happen if you perform them regularly.  There is no other way. It may help to take lessons on a schedule with a teacher or to set the TV channel reminder for the yoga show you like. You could also set your computer to remind you of a schedule you have set up. 

Where do you find them? There is a wonderful explanation at Chapter 11 of "The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga" by Goswami Kriyananda (published in Chicago) or you can Google for online accounts. These include, for example, Skull-Shining (Kapalabhati), Nadi Purification (Alternate Breathing) and the Fire Breath (Agni Prasana) - among many others.  Don't try them all at once, build gradually.  By the way, if you are a sceptic and imagine - contrary to thousands of years of science -  that yoga cannnot initiate real change, don't do these, as they will challenge your outlook. Be sure you are ready, if you open the door marked "Change".

The hand positions used in meditation are all significant. Chapter 5 of The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga will explain many such mudras to you.

We all know people who would benefit from the Ego-Transcending Gesture (Ahamkara Mudra). Take the thumb and place it in the middle of the Index Finger. This mudra helps those who have difficulty in asserting themselves with self-confidence.

It is absolutely not true that the ego must be annihilated.  I have heard this nonsense from beginners with poor judgement.  Do you think for one minute that inspiring world reformers (in modern times or earlier) had no ego? On the contrary, we all need bigger egos, that are big enough to encompass many other beings. This is the divine blessing of Compassion.  See Kriyananda at p.77: "There needs to be a realization that ultimate wisdom is not the annihilation of you or your ego."

Wisdom Gesture (Gnana Mudra) -- the tip of the forefinger comes to the middle of the thumb. The ego begins to step aside and allow more harmony to manifest in your life.

Divinity gesture (Om Mudra) -- the tip of the thumb meets the tip of the forefinger. Attain more peacefulness.

Clothing for Yoga
Special clothing is required for yoga practice. Loose airy clothes are ideal. For example, cool white cotton pants are available in 3 sizes from the SIVANANDA YOGA CENTRE and are widely admired by teachers of all schools.  They feel wonderful and underpin that delightful sense of freedom which yoga will cultivate in you.

A special non-slip mat will be necessary for home practice and you may carry it with you to classes. Your teacher will tell you when you should or should not be on the mat.  There is a debate about "natural versus artificial" materials.  Make sure you clean it regularly.
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