The Sivananda Companion to Yoga: A Complete Guide to the Physical Postures, Breathing Exercises, Diet, Relaxation, and Meditation Techniques of Yoga.


The essential companion for beginning and experienced yogis alike! Now with fresh, colorful pages throughout, The Sivananda Companion to Yoga remains the classic guide to yoga. With easy-to-follow instructions, inspirational teaching, and detailed illustrations, this authoritative guide covers every aspect of the yoga lifestyle, including relaxation, exercise, dietary guidelines, breathing, and meditation.

A highly regarded organization for yoga studies and practices, the ...

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The essential companion for beginning and experienced yogis alike! Now with fresh, colorful pages throughout, The Sivananda Companion to Yoga remains the classic guide to yoga. With easy-to-follow instructions, inspirational teaching, and detailed illustrations, this authoritative guide covers every aspect of the yoga lifestyle, including relaxation, exercise, dietary guidelines, breathing, and meditation.

A highly regarded organization for yoga studies and practices, the Sivananda Yoga Center created the first edition of The Sivananda Companion to Yoga in 1983. Since its publication, it has sold more than 700,000 copies worldwide and has become a standard text for both yoga students and teachers.

Whether you're using it in conjunction with a class or on your own, The Sivananda Companion to Yoga can help you:
* Develop a fit and beautiful body
* Boost your energy and vitality at any stage of life
* Reduce stress and experience greater peace of mind
* Eat nutritiously and responsibly
* Increase your powers of concentration and discipline

Yoga is a journey toward physical and spiritual wellness. With this beautiful, bestselling guide in hand, you will experience the health, energy, and vibrancy that yoga can bring into your life.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684870007
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1 FIRESIDE
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 237,498
  • Product dimensions: 7.88 (w) x 9.88 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

The Sivananda Yoga Center is a worldwide network of teaching facilities and is recognized internationally as an authority on Hatha and Raja Yoga, with locations throughout the United States and Canada and in Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, India, Israel, Uruguay, and the United Kingdom.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Living with mind and body relaxed is our natural state, our birthright — it is only the pace of our lives that has made us forget. Those who retain the art possess the key to good health, vitality and peace of mind, for relaxation is a tonic for the whole being, liberating vast resources of energy.

The state of our minds and the state of our bodies are intimately linked. If your muscles are relaxed, then your mind must be relaxed. If the mind is anxious, then the body suffers too. All action originates in the mind. When the mind receives a stimulus that alerts it to the need for action, it sends a message via the nerves to contract the muscles in readiness. In the hustle and bustle of the modern world, the mind is continuously bombarded with stimuli which may cause us to freeze in the alerted "fight or flight" pattern of response. As a result, many people spend much of their lives — even while asleep — in a state of physical and mental tension. Everyone has their own particular trouble spots — whether it is a clenched jaw, a furrowed brow, or a stiff neck. This unnecessary tension not only causes a lot of discomfort but is an enormous drain on our energy resources and a major cause of tiredness and ill-health. For energy is being used both to tell the muscles to contract and to keep them contracted, even if we are only half aware of it.

In this section we present the technique of relaxation, that is an essential part of your yoga practice. There are three parts to proper relaxation — physical, mental and spiritual relaxation. To relax the body, you lie down in the Corpse Pose and first tense then relax each part of the body in turn, working up from your feet to your head. This alternate tensing then relaxing is necessary because it is only by knowing how tension feels that you can be sure that you have achieved relaxation. Then, just as in normal life your mind instructs the muscles to tense and contract, you now use autosuggestion to send the muscles a message to relax. With practice you will gradually learn to use your subconscious mind to extend this control to the involuntary muscles of the heart, the digestive systems and other organs too.

To relax and focus the mind you breathe steadily and rhythmically and concentrate on your breathing. Mental and physical relaxation can never be complete, however, until you achieve spiritual peace. For as long as you identify with your body and mind, there will be fears and worries, anger and sorrow. Spiritual relaxation means detaching yourself, becoming a witness of the body and mind, in order to identify with the Self or pure consciousness — the source of truth and peace that lies within us all.

As you relax, you will feel sensations of melting down, of expansion, lightness and warmth. When all muscular tension is gone, a gentle euphoria suffuses the whole body. Relaxation is not so much a state as a process, a series of levels of increasing depth. It is a matter of letting go, instead of holding on; of not doing, rather than doing. As you relax the whole body and breathe slowly and deeply, certain physiological changes occur: less oxygen is consumed and less carbon dioxide eliminated; muscle tension is reduced; and there is a decrease in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and an increase in parasympathetic activity. Even a few minutes of deep relaxation will reduce worry and fatigue more effectively than many hours of restless sleep.

The Corpse Pose

The Corpse Pose or Savasana is the classic relaxation pose, practised before each session, between asanas and in Final Relaxation. It looks deceptively simple, but it is in fact one of the most difficult asanas to do well and one which changes and develops with practice. At the end of an asana session your Corpse Pose will be more complete than at the beginning because the other asanas will have progressively stretched and relaxed your muscles. When you first lie down, look to see that you are lying symmetrically as symmetry provides proper space for all parts to relax. Now start to work in the pose. Rotate your legs in and out, then let them fall gently out to the sides. Do the same with your arms. Rotate the spine by turning your head from side to side to centre it. Then start stretching yourself out, as though someone were pulling your head away from your feet, your shoulders down and away from your neck, your legs down and away from your pelvis. Let gravity embrace you. Feel your weight pulling you deeper into relaxation, melting your body into the floor. Breathe deeply and slowly from the abdomen, riding up and down on the breath, sinking deeper with each exhalation. Feel how your abdomen swells and falls. Many important physiological changes are taking place, reducing the body's energy loss, removing stress, lowering your respiration and pulse rate, and resting the whole system. As you enter deep relaxation, you will feel your mind grow clear and detached.

Copyright © 1983, 2000 by Gaia Books Limited

Text copyright © 1983, 2000 by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center

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Table of Contents


Introduction to Yoga


The Corpse Pose

Final Relaxation

The Basic Session

The Sequence of Asanas

The Session Begins:

Easy Pose

Neck and Shoulders

Eye Exercises

The Sun Salutation

Leg Raises

The Headstand

The Shoulderstand

The Plough

The Bridge

The Fish

The Forward


The Cobra

The Locust

The Bow

The Half Spinal Twist

The Crow

The Hands to Feet Pose

The Triangle

The Basic Practice Charts


Prana and the Subtle Body

Basic Breathing:


Anuloma Viloma




Advanced Breathing:

The Three Bandhas:


Surya Bheda




The Three Gunas

Natural Foods

Changing your Diet



Mastery of the Mind

Principles of Meditation

Starting to Meditate



Asanas and Variations

The Headstand Cycle:

Leg Variations


Arm Variations

Lotus Headstand

Single Leg Inverted Pose

The Shoulderstand Cycle:

Arm and Leg Variations

Plough Variations

Bridge and Fish Variations

The Forward Bend Cycle:

Forward Bend Variations

The Head to Knee Pose

The Side Splits Twist

Leg and Arm Stretching

The Inclined Plane

The Backward Bend Cycle:

Cobra and Locust Variations

Bow Variations


Kneeling Pose


Kneeling Wheel


Crescent Moon


The Sitting Cycle:

Spinal Twist


Lotus Variations

Shooting Bow

Leg behind Head Pose


The Balancing Cycle:



Crow Variations



Standing Splits


Lord Nataraja Pose

Standing Pose

Head to Feet Pose

Triangle Variations

Cycles of Asanas Chart


The Cycle of Life


Practice Schedule

Special Asanas for Pregnancy:

Modified Shoulderstand and Plough

Wall Stretches

Pelvic Lift

Modifed Cobra


Perineal Exercises




The Later Years:

Warm Ups

Modifed Asanas

Yoga and Health

The Body's Frame:



Spinal Movements

The Nutrient Cycles:




The Vital Balance:




Recommended Reading


Sivananda Centres


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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended!

    It is a beautiful and inspirational book. It is very well written and with fabulous illustrations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2000

    Very good for beginners like me.

    My comments regard the older edition of the book. This is the best illustrated of all Yoga books I know. Photos are indeed very good. Covers all the basics and emphisizes all the right points. I had it once ( the edition '83)and was able to practice yoga without needing a teacher. I stopped doing yoga some time ago and now want to start again. So I came to order the same old trusted book. I hope the new edition doesnt deviate much from the original.

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