Self-Awakening Yoga

The Expansion of Consciousness through the Body's Own Wisdom
By (author) Don Stapleton, Ph.D.
Self-Awakening Yoga
The Expansion of Consciousness through the Body's Own Wisdom
By (author) Don Stapleton, Ph.D.

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Pages : 320

Book Size : 8 x 10

ISBN-13 : 9780892811830

Imprint : Healing Arts Press

On Sale Date : July 22, 2004

Format : Paperback Book

Illustrations : 617 b&w photographs

After 30 years of extensive yoga training, an accident left artist and professor Don Stapleton with a severe spinal injury. Faced with this challenge, he drew on his knowledge of yoga to create exercises that allowed him to recover freedom of movement and unleash his spiritual and physical potential. More than a technique for health and fitness, Self-Awakening Yoga draws on the roots of yoga as a creative learning process and an expansion of consciousness.
Description

About Self-Awakening Yoga

Takes yoga back to its roots as a creative learning process and an expansion of consciousness, not just a technique for health and fitness

• Provides simple techniques that enhance the free flow of prana to promote physical and emotional healing, self-discovery, and spiritual evolution

• Includes over 100 exercises and meditations for a self-structured practice

• Teaches how to release the body’s inefficient, painful patterns and to access unknown potentials through kinesthetic inquiries

• Includes 60-minute audio CD-V of four guided meditation exercises

When artist and professor Don Stapleton discovered yoga, it marked the beginning of a journey into the awakening powers of prana--the energy of yogic purification--and the natural spiritual and healing properties of his own body. After 30 years of extensive yoga training, an accident left him with a severe injury to the spine. Faced with the challenge of physical recovery, Stapleton drew upon his knowledge of yoga to create a series of exercises that allowed him to recover freedom of movement, release emotional blockages, and unleash his spiritual and physical potential.

Self-Awakening Yoga is the synthesis of Stapleton’s practice. More than 100 exercises--from focusing on the breath to accessing primal sound--show how to unlock the wisdom and power of prana to engage the body’s healing powers. His simple exercises and meditations focus on natural movements that encourage body awareness. Readers learn how to listen to what the body is saying before engaging in any specific yoga postures. Self-Awakening Yoga takes yoga back to its roots as a creative learning process and an expansion of consciousness, not just a technique for health and fitness.
Excerpt

Book Excerpt

Chapter 16--Hugging the Planet Earth: Opening from the Belly into Front Extension Postures

How can core creativity be channeled for birthing new possibilities?

We begin this group of inquiries by making a primary distinction between lengthening the front side of the body through “front extension” versus compressing the lumbar spine in back bending. What is the difference between a backbend and a front extension? Someone watching you enter into the Cobra, Bow, or Camel pose might not notice that you are entering these postures from the perspective of extending the front side of your body, as opposed to doing what looks like a backbend.

Traditional yoga often emphasizes movements that arch the lower back rather than lengthen the line from the pubic bone to the sternum on the front side of the body. The shift in orientation to lengthening the front side of the body can make an important difference in the health of your spine. Chronic low-back pain is a primary contender for on-the-job disability in the American workplace; these inquiries can provide relief, support, and education for strengthening this potential hot spot in your body.

A backbend encourages the spine to overarch in the lower back and the neck, the spine’s most flexible (and therefore most vulnerable) areas. The vertebrae of the middle back support the ribs, which wrap around each side of the spine and connect to the sternum on the front side of the body; the rib structure prevents the middle back from bending as much as the lower back and the neck.

Picture the discs between the vertebrae, whose job it is to cushion the pressure between bones and to provide lubrication for fluid movement. They are round and red, plump and juicy--like water balloons. When you arch backward the fluids in the discs are squeezed flatter on the back side, causing the front side to bulge. Some squeezing and bulging can be favorable to spinal health. The beneficial effects of compression and release tone the elastic walls of the discs and stimulate the replenishing of fluids and nutrients to the discs. But repeated, long-term stress can cause the discs to lose their tone and fluidity or to rupture when the spine is overarched. The good news is that low-back conditions, including those that involve the discs, are highly responsive to movements that stimulate physical reeducation.

The energetic differences between these two orientations under discussion are highlighted when you think about the times in your life when you “bent over backward” to please. There is a loss of self when one loses a connection to his or her center; the emphasis becomes about what is happening behind your back. When awareness is grounded in your center and you lengthen into an opening from the front side, you sense that you are engaging in life from the inside out, investing your life force and creativity into projects that embody your passion and talent. Rather than haphazardly backing into life, expanding your awareness through your pelvis, belly, and heart encourages you to consciously connect with your interests and take responsibility for your creations. Extending from the womb of the self deep in your belly gives room for the possibility of connecting with an energetic umbilical cord to a continuous and reciprocal flow of nurturance.

The inquiries in this chapter begin by humbling ourselves down onto our bellies to hug the planet Earth. The second group of inquiries open the belly and extend the front side from a kneeling position, the posture often associated with prayer.

Opening to Life by Engaging the Belly Core

Inquiry: How do I stay grounded in my center while opening into whole-body, front-extension movements?

Staying anchored in your center allows for deeper relaxation in the midst of any postures or movements that lengthen the front side of the body. In the first exploration, Kneeling, we explore the details of supporting the lower back and neck by focusing awareness on the long, continuous line of the spine as it opens. Sliding Hip Pockets and Windmill prepare the body for gradually entering the Camel pose, identifying the limits that are within your safe zone.

The Forward Lunge combines front extensions with strengthening the legs in preparation for the Standing Runner’s Stretch and all of the Warrior postures. This exploration is particularly effective in gaining familiarity with aligning the feet for maximum safety for the knees when you move into standing postures that combine hip flexibility with front extensions and standing balance.

From a Seed to a Tree integrates the full range of motion from being curled into the fetal spiral of the Child posture all the way into opening the belly in the Camel. All of these movements provide checkpoints along the way to assure that you remain connected to your center and do not get tempted to overarch the lumbar or spinal curves.
Table of Contents

Table of content


Acknowledgments

Prologue: Your Body as Earthen Vessel


Part One
The Origins of Self-Awakening Yoga

1   The Path to the Teacher Within

 “Who Am I?”: Self-Awakening Yoga Methodology

3   Initiating Your Self-Awakening Journey: Using the Inquiries

Part Two
The Inquiry Exercises of Self-Awakening Yoga

4
   Releasing into the Embrace of Gravity, Growing into the Light 
       •  Heavy Body, Effortless Awareness 
      
•  Traveling to the Origin of the Breath  
      
•  Attuning to the Pulse of Being

5   Rooted in the Earth, Open to the Heavens 
       •  Using Gravity to Realign Your Body 
      
•  The “Yes” Movement

6   Restoring Natural Alignment by Balancing the Cervical and 
       •  Lumbar Curves   
      
•  Opening the Middle and Upper Back: Folded Empty Coat Sleeves 
      
•  Mobilizing and Synchronizing Movement in the Neck and Pelvis

7   Recharging the Body’s “Energy Battery” in the Belly 
       •  Locating and Energizing the Belly Center

8    Releasing into Movement from the Center of Being 
       •  Moving from the Center

9    Opening the Hip Joints for Seated Postures and Simple Spinal Twists 
       •  Locating and Anchoring the Sitz Bones for Grounded Seated Postures 
      
•  Differentiating Spinal Movements by Opening the Hips

10    Hugging the Planet Earth: Opening from the Belly into Front-Extension Postures 
        •  Lengthening the Front Side to Hug the Planet 
       
•  Opening to Life by Engaging the Belly Core

11    Lifting onto All Fours: Balancing Stability with Mobility in Cross-Lateral Movement 
        •  Stabilizing the Upper Body 
        •  Balancing Upper Body  •  Strength with Flexibility
 

12    Containing the Paradox of Polar Opposites: Individuation through Bilateral Movement     
        •  Harmonizing Opposite Sides through Perpetual-Motion Rocking 
        •  Balancing Strength with Flexibility in Side-Stretching Postures
 

13    Making the Hero’s Journey: Traveling the Time Spiral of the Spinal Twist to Arrive Now in Seated Forward Bend 
         •  The Paradox of Courage and Surrender in Hero Pose 
         •  Spinal Twists 
         •  Balancing the Upper and Lower Body in Seated Forward Bend

14    The Miraculous Journey to Standing in Now, the Open Moment 
         •  Finding a Leg to Stand On 
         •  Balancing Resolute Determination with Lightheartedness 
         •  Walking through Life with the Strength of a Lion and Heart of a Lamb


15    The Practice of Flowing with Life’s Unfolding Mystery 
         •  Integrative Flow 1: Angel Wings Breath 
         •  Integrative Flow 2: Salutation to the Child 
         •  Integrative Flow 3: Salutation to the Sun 
         •  Integrative Flow 4: Prana Posture Flow


Epilogue: As You Prepare to Journey On . . .

Resources
Author Bio
Don Stapleton, Ph.D., has taught yoga worldwide since 1976 and was a teacher and director of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health for nineteen years. His extensive training includes Kripalu, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Siddha Samadhi, and Oki-do styles of yoga. He lives with his wife and son in Costa Rica, where he is cofounder and codirector of the Nosara Yoga Institute and the director of Interdisciplinary Yoga Teacher Training.
Reviews

Reviews

Book Praise

Book Praise

"Self-Awakening Yoga takes yoga back to its roots as a creative learning process and an expansion of consciousness."
Celebrity, May 2004

“What an awesome and inspiring book. It beautifully illustrates how an external teacher can lead a person to the lotus feet of his or her own inner authority.”
Erich Schiffmann, author of Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness

“Don is an adept, an amazing contemporary yogi who has gone beyond ordinary convention. His mastery of the spiritual inquiry and his brilliance radiates through every chapter of this book.”
Todd Norian, certified Anusara Yoga teacher, former director of Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training

"More than 100 exercises. . . show how to unlock the wisdom and power of prana to engage the body's healing powers."
SirReadaLot, September 2004

"Readers learn how to listen for messages from the body before entering into traditional yoga postures, providing the opportunity for deep engagement with the postures and for recognizing the self as the highest yoga-teaching authority."

Share Guide, Nov-Dec, 2004



"Self-Awakening Yoga takes yoga back to its roots as a creative learning process and an expansion of conciousness. . ."
Branches of Light, Spring-Summer-Fall 2005

". . . provides simple yet reliable techniques that enhance the free flow of prana to promote physical and emotional healing, self-discovery, and spiritual development."
Branches of Light, Spring-Summer-Fall 2005
Back Cover

Back Cover Copy

YOGA

“What an awesome and inspiring book. It beautifully illustrates how an external teacher can lead a person to the lotus feet of his or her own inner authority.”
--Erich Schiffmann, author of Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness

“Don is an adept, an amazing contemporary yogi who has gone beyond ordinary convention. His mastery of the spiritual inquiry and his brilliance radiates through every chapter of this book.”
--Todd Norian, certified Anusara Yoga teacher, former director of Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training

When artist and professor Don Stapleton discovered yoga, it marked the beginning of a journey into the awakening powers of prana--the energy of yogic purification--and the natural creative powers of the body. After twenty years of extensive yoga training and teaching, an accident left him with a severe injury to the spine. Faced with the challenge of physical recovery, Stapleton drew upon his knowledge of yoga postures and his years of exploration into prana flow to create a practice that allowed him to not only heal from the injury but also discover a greater physical ease and emotional expansiveness than he had ever known before.

Self-Awakening Yoga is the synthesis of Stapleton’s practice. More than 100 movement explorations enable the reader to unlock the wisdom of prana to stimulate the body’s innate power for transformation and self-development. His yoga exercises and prana-flow meditations focus on natural movements that encourage body awareness. Readers learn how to listen for messages from the body before entering into traditional yoga postures, providing the opportunity for deep engagement with the postures and for recognizing the self as the highest yoga-teaching authority. Self-Awakening Yoga takes yoga back to its roots as a creative learning process and an expansion of consciousness, not just a technique for health and fitness.

DON STAPLETON, Ph.D., has taught yoga worldwide since 1976 and was a teacher and director of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health for nineteen years. His extensive training includes Kripalu, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Siddha Samadhi, and Oki-do styles of yoga. He lives with his wife and son in Costa Rica, where he is cofounder and codirector of the Nosara Yoga Institute and the director of Interdisciplinary Yoga Teacher Training.

In the accompanying 60-minute CD-V, the author leads readers through four of the explorations included in the book. The CD-V can be listened to on a CD player or viewed on a Mac or PC computer, where visual cues can be seen.

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