We give undue importance to our health and the treatment of diseases. A large number of medicines treat only the symptoms of the disease, and not the root cause. In fact, the cause of many chronic ailments is still being researched. It is here that Yoga therapy comes to our assistance. Yoga emphasizes treatment of the root cause of an ailment. It works in a slow, subtle and miraculous manner. Modern medicine can claim to save a life at a critical stage, but, for complete recovery and regaining of normal health, one must believe in the efficiency of Yoga therapy.
The Yogic way of life includes a code of ethics, regulations, discipline and more, combined with prayer and meditation. Even a discussion of these subjects helps one relieve mental tensions and change attitudes. Simple Asanas help to stretch and relax the whole body and neutralize tensions. The sincere practice of Yoga postures benefits all levels of experience. From the restoration of balance, flexibility, poise, health and well being to the body, to the cultivation of mental equanimity, emotional balance, and inner strength. On a physical level Yoga postures stimulate the glands, organs, muscles and nerves in ways that traditional exercise cannot.
Muscle tightness and strain is quickly relieved and both circulation and digestion improves. Stress-related symptoms like poor sleep, fatigue, muscle spasms, anxiety, and indigestion are greatly improved. Through continued practice Yoga postures can have a profound effect on the inner dimensions of life, establishing deep calm, concentration, emotional stability and confidence.
Basic Precautions of Yoga
Yoga imposes certain disciplines for a balanced and contented life. These disciplines have scientific justifications. Unlike superficial, frivolous lifestyles without any do’s or don’ts, the regular practice of yoga helps by cultivating character, good eating, cleansing, proper breathing, ideal sex and relaxation. It is designed to awaken the characteristics of what it means in life to be human.
One should remember that
1. Practising yoga in the wrong manner can aggravate the negatives, rather than developing positive changes in the body and mind. Therefore it is advised that yoga should not be practised without suitable professional guidance and knowledge. If you’re physically unwell, do not practise yoga.
2. Weak patients are warned against holding their breath (Kumbhaka) during pranayama.
3. People suffering from serious problems like heart trouble, high or low blood pressure or any serious organic disease should also avoid asanas (postures) which may prove dangerous.
4. Practise in the presence of a medical or yoga expert.
5. Sweating during practice. Do not wipe the body with a towel, but rub the body with the palms.
6. Avoid strenuous physical exercises like gymnastics, weightlifting, jogging, tennis, swimming etc. after asanas and prayama. Allow at least 20 minutes after yoga before other exercise. The sequence of yogic practices; Kriyas, Asanas, Pranayama, Chittashuddhi and Yoga Nidra should be maintained.
7. In attaining peace of mind, yoga should be practised in a quiet, secluded place, where fresh air envelops you for fresh breathing of the mind.
8. It is recommended that you either practise early in the morning, or in early evening on a relatively empty stomach.You are allowed the flexibility of practising yoga four hours after a heavy meal and 20 minutes after a glass of juice or a cup of skimmed milk. After practice, meals after half-an-hour is optional.
9. Avoid tea, coffee, smoking, alcohol, zarda, pan masala, sweets, fried food and spices as they activate chemical toxins, which are harmful and lead to stress and illness.
10. Your diet should include raw food, salad and fruits.Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water everyday, irrespective of yogic practice. It helps in cleaning up the system.
11. A time schedule should be ideal capacity and to make it a regular practice. For instance, Pranayama can be started with a less duration initially and can be later increased gradually depending on one’s capability to concentrate.
12. Initially one may feel stiffness in muscles but it will ease out after regular practice.Physical comfort is as important as mental comfort while practicing yoga. Hence, clean, loose, free-flowing clothes; preferably cotton garments should be worn. In cold climates, a shirt or sweater can be worn. Jewellery and accessories should be avoided and practise with bare-feet to ensure contact with the ground.
13. As the body has to be stretched in all directions, yogic practice has to be done on a clean mat, rug, carpet or a blanket.
14. You should practise Yoga on the ground. Do not practise on sofas and beds.
Who can Perform Yoga?
Yoga can be practiced by anyone, at any age, with any physical condition, depending on individual needs. For example, athletes and dancers can practice for restoring the energy and to improve stamina; housewives for rejuvenating the energy and to reduce fatigue; executives to give a break to the overworked mind; children to control the wandering mind, muscle toning, to improve memory and concentration; seniors to feel strong, and to improve memory. Yoga breathing techniques (Pranayama) are very powerful since they work as a tonic to reduce stress, insomnia, emotional imbalance, headache etc. Yoga, therefore, is for all ages from 5 years to as long as we live.
How to Start Yoga?
While starting a yoga practice without the support of a qualified yoga teacher is not recommended, we acknowledge that many people do not have access to a teacher due to location or times of classes.
We have put together this page and other resources to help you start a yoga practice.
While it is good to have goals for your yoga practice (build strength, reduce stress, obtain flexibility, lose weight), it is not good to be focused only on obtaining them. Yoga is a process, and sometimes this process can be very slow. Use your goals to help select the type and level of postures you wish to practice.
When not to do yoga:
Please read the contraindications for each posture before doing them. Menstruation, pregnancy, high blood pressure and injuries to the knees, shoulders, and neck are all conditions where certain postures must be avoided and special care must be taken in all postures. If you have any medical condition you should check with your health care professional before starting a yoga practice.
Variations and modifications:
The instructions and pictures of the yoga postures are the goal as to where you are going towards, not trying to be. Experiment and explore different positions and alignment to make the posture work for your body.
You can make your yoga practice as challenging and vigorous as you want. We recommend you start slowly and make sure you understand the alignment of postures.
There are 3 ways to increase the intensity of your practice.
1. Hold postures for longer and longer periods of time.
2. Slowly build your practice up to more advanced and challenging postures,
3. Move quickly between postures.
Your daily practice should be between 15 to 90 minutes long and done 3-6 times per week depending on your schedule, goals and ability.
Choose to practice postures that look like you can do them. Postures done on the floor are going to be easier that standing postures as they do not require as much strength or balance. Also, postures that have longer recommended hold times (in breaths) are going to be easier to do. See yoga posture sequences for info on how to arrange the postures.
What to wear:
Lose comfortable clothing or tights / unitards work best. Its important to wear something that will not restrict your movement.
Drinking / eating:
It is not advisable to eat or drink right before a yoga practice (especially if you are practicing inversions). eat 1-3 hours before and drink only small amounts of water before practice, and do not drink during your practice.
How to start:
It is best to start your practice with a brief meditation. Come into easy pose close your eyes and breathe deeply. you can alternately practice a pranayama as you meditate.
How to end:
It is very important to end your practice with savasana, relaxation posture. This allows the body to integrate all of the postures and to balance and absorb the prana / energy that has been created and released during your practice. this is also an important practice for stress reduction.
To become a master yogi capable of harnessing all the beneficial effects of yoga is a long process involving several hours of practice. However, making a start is the crucial step. Beginners can follow a basic daily yoga program to start on the path towards good health. This is a simplified program to rejuvenate your health through yoga exercises each day and a step-by-step guide to executing common therapeutic postures.
A Basic Practice Chart:
Daily yoga practice is an investment in improving your health. Twelve minutes a day will help you tone your muscles and improve the functioning of the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems. The following exercises will provide a well-balanced program, which should be supplemented, of course, by any other postures that are particularly good for your needs as per your personal constitution (available in My Soul):
First Day: Complete Breathing Exercises, Spinal Roll, Cobra Pose, Sun Salutation, Corpse Pose.
Second Day: Complete Breathing Exercises, Sun Salutation, Corpse Pose.
Third Day: Complete Breathing Exercises, Bow Pose, Cobra Pose, Posterior Stretch, Corpse Pose
Fourth Day and on: Repeat sequence.
Introduction of Asanas
Maintain good health by improving its immune system.
Consideration to be taken while practising Asanas.
Control various diseases, improving physical fitness, etc.
List of Asanas
1. Supine Pose
2. Prone Pose
3. Sitting Pose
Know about Asanas:
Asanas, an intrinsic part of yoga, are body postures modeled to blend the mind and body and achieve complete physical and mental relaxation. Regular practise of yogasana rejuvenates the entire physiological system. In fact, yogasana postures help the body to maintain good health by improving its immune system. Asanas work mainly on the endocrine and nervous systems. Since both the systems are inter-related, the effects produced on these two reflect on the other systems as well.
A few things need to be remembered while practising Asanas, namely:
1. Develop a habit of drinking water before and after the practise, and if required even during practise.
2. Maintain the asana posture with ease as long as possible and gradually increase the time. If unable to retain the posture for long, repeat it several times to make it easier.
3. Avoid jerky movements while assuming or releasing the posture. Perform slowly and steadily without any strain. Start with the simple postures and then take up the more difficult ones.
4. Understand the purpose of each asana so that while retaining it, concentration can be bestowed on theed.
In fact, regular practise of yogasana helps in controlling various diseases and improving physical fitness, and improving flexibility of various joints by removing stiffness, increasing immunity and toning up the functioning of kidneys, lungs, intestine, liver and skin. It also helps in breaking down excess fat and increases blood circulation. It increases the coronary blood flow, oxygen assimilation and eases the flow of prance energy to the whole body. Asanas should be practised by individuals depending on age, capacity and the diseases to be treated. They should be performed on an empty stomach. The final position should be maintained with deep and slow breathing. The time limit of retaining the final posture depends on one’s capacity, which can be increased gradually.