Shamatha Yoga

Three years ago I completed three levels of Shambhala training levels 1-3: The Art of Being Human, Birth of a Warrior and Warrior in the World. There was no fighting but extensive meditating. I learned how to quiet my mind. I also enjoyed Shamatha yoga that you can do anywhere and it only takes several minutes.

Shamatha yoga is a simple series of nine yoga postures developed by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche during his retreat in India in Januray of 2002. They are designed to develop mindfulness as well as loosen the body during breaks from formal sitting meditation.

  1. Earth. Hands at sides, fingers pointed down. Palms inward, gaze down. Feel slightly separated, toes spread. Knees are not locked. Body scan: moving feet to head, relax each part of the body. Feeling of solidity.
  2. Greater Eastern Sun. Raise arms up outstretched, palms upward. Reach for sky, palms towards each other, shoulder-width apart. Look upwards.
  3. Gathering the Mind. From GES, bring hands together and down toward heart, to Anjali. Bodhicitta. Feel heart center.
  4. Offering. Forward bend from waist. Separate hands, arms circle slightly outward and down. Release. Stretch back and back of legs. Relax head and neck. Legs are straight and strong.
  5. Courage. From Offering, roll up through spine to standing. Hands on hips in warrior posture, as if to bow. Gaze forward.
  6. Warrior. Slide right foot forward, angle left foot out 45 degrees. Arms reach up, palms together. Look upwards. Right leg is bent, knee directly over front heel. Left leg is straight. Bring left hip forward. Step back to standing, hands on hips. Repent on left side.
  7. Four Directions. a. Hands on hips, legs spread and strengthened. Bow over, stretching to the front. b.Round up to standing. Lift up the heart, drop the head back. c. Return to standing. Turn right foot out to right, left foot turns in 45 degrees. Turn hips to right, fold torso over right leg. Keep weight evenly distributed in legs. Let head hang. Round up through spine to standing. Repeat on left side.
  8. Garuda. a. Begin with legs spread apart, toes facing forward. Arms extend to sides shoulder-height, palms down. b. Turn right foot out to right. Reach right hand out as far as possible, then bring down to right ankle or shin. Legs are straight and strengthened, palms face front. Look up to top hand. Come back slowly to standing, arms extended, palms down. Turn feet and repeat on left side. Come back slowly to standing. c.Twisting Garuda: Turn foot to right. Twist torso so left hand reaches for ankle or shin. Look upward to top hand. Strengthen legs and return to standing posture. Repeat on left side. Twists whole spine.
  9. Joining Heaven and Earth. Feet together. In one fluid motion: Raise arms out and up overhead, bring palms together, look up to thumbs, then hands come down, passing through Anjali to the hips, palms open at sides. Gaze is raised. Openness. Expansion.

See a demo of Shamatha yoga on YouTube

Note: As with many forms of discipline that involve bodily exercise, Shamatha yoga includes an inherent element of risk of personal injury. However you can prevent harm to your body by being careful at all times and avoiding or discontinuing any activity that causes you pain or physical distress. Individuals who have preexisting medical conditions must not undertake any exercise that could aggravate such conditions.

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