Yog(a) exercises

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Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, 15 Jun 2015

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

Contents

Asanas

[ From the archives of the Times of India] : 2008

Asanas for relaxation and exercise: Ramesh Bijlani

Many yoga asanas provide physical relaxation, and if properly performed, mental relaxation too. Shavasana is the principal asana in this category. It is performed at the beginning and end of a session, and is also sandwiched between other asanas which provide physical exercise. Another common relaxation posture is makarasana. Relaxing asanas may be performed any time during a session when the body becomes tired. They appear simple, but doing them correctly needs practice and patience. Shavasana relaxes all the muscles of the body through voluntary effort. It also relaxes the mind through slow, deep and conscious breathing, and autosuggestion. Shavasana is an extremely useful asana, specially for busy people constantly under stress.

Sequence and method

A sequence of 10-15 asanas, which normally take 30 to 45 minutes, provides good exercise to all parts of the body. While practising these, focus on the body and the changes it is experiencing. A typical asana begins with a starting position and from there, we go on to the final position through slow, gentle and graceful movements. If the body is not flexible enough, movements may be difficult. In that case, the right thing is to perform the maximum movement in the direction that is comfortable. As you become more flexible, it will be possible to get closer to the perfect posture. After reaching the final position—or the final position for the individual—the posture is maintained for five to 30 seconds, depending on the capacity of the individual and the time available. The final position involves intense stretching, but it should be enjoyable. After that, the posture is released and the body brought to a relaxing position. How to begin and end a posture is as important as the posture itself. That is why live instruction, or at least a video CD, is important. It is not safe to perform the posture from a book or on the basis of a glance at TV. After brief relaxation, the counter-pose is performed. The sequence of the asanas is important. If a change is made, at least the pairing of a pose and its counter-pose shouldn’t be disturbed. —Excerpt from Back to Health through Yoga by Ramesh Bijlani, Rupa & Co

For shoulders

1 Double Arm Raises

Stand straight with your legs about a foot apart and arms by your side. Keep your abdominal muscles tight, knees straight and chest relaxed. Imagine holding a rod in your hands and lift up hands, keeping arms and shoulders taut. Just as your arms are about to straighten out, bring them back to shoulder lever, with them bent at the elbows and the elbows in line with shoulders. Repeat this 12–15 times.

Benefits:

Tones and strengthens shoulder muscles, giving a nice shape to shoulders

2 Front Arm Raises

Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart and arms by your side. Clench your fists. Keeping your arms taut, raise them in front to reach shoulder level. Still keeping your arms taut, lower your hands till they touch your thighs. Then raise arms again. Repeat this motion 12–15 times.

Benefits:

Tones the fronts of the shoulders

For chest

Push-Ups

Lie on your stomach, facing down. Place your hands, palms down, next to your chest a little wider than s h o u l d e r width apart. As you inhale, raise your body, exerting pressure on your palms until your arms are straight and your entire body your palms and toes. Lower your body till it’s only a few inches off the ground. This completes one repetition. Do 12–15 repetitions, three times. Repeat this exercise with your feet up on a bench.

Benefits:

Broadens and builds chest muscles, giving the chest a nice shape

Uttanpadasana

Stretch your body and keep it taut. Inhale and raise both legs slowly, putting pressure on your hands. Hold your legs at an angle of 60° to the ground, for as long as you can. Breathe normally. Feel the strain on your legs and abdomen. Don’t tense your face or neck. Return legs slowly to the base position. Repeat 3–4 times. Benefits: Improves health of all the digestive organs, lungs, heart, stomach, liver, spleen and intestine; counters constipation; boosts blood circulation, thus countering low blood pressure.

Nabhyasana

Lie straight on your back, both hands on your thighs. As you inhale, raise your head, shoulders and upper back, and then also both your legs. Try to touch your raised feet with your raised hands. Stretch enough, so only your hips stay on the ground. Breathe normally and hold the position for as long as you can. Then slowly return to base position. Repeat this asana 3–5 times.

Benefits: Boosts functioning of all the digestive organs, lungs and heart

Caution:

If you suffer from backaches, avoid this asana.

For Neck Pain

Ajay Kapoor , 7 Simple Yoga Poses for Neck Pain "Daily Excelsior" 9/4/2017

Gone are the days when ‘small is good’ was the motto. Today we want everything to be better than the rest. Better house, better salary, better grades; even a better world. The strive for perfection is driving us all crazy. You may say, ‘It is all about evolution’! But the pace at which we are evolving is taking a toll on our health: mental, physical and emotional.

Our desires have taken shape of needs and the fulfilment of these needs requires commitment towards work.In due course we overstrain ourselves, converting the body to a factory. Wear and tear follows next. A very common ailment that affects most of us then is neck pain.

Cervicalgia, as neck pain is better known as in medical terms, arises mostly from long, continuous hours of sitting in the same posture or a rough night of sleep and reduced workout. When the causes of neck pain are simple, why not the cure?

That’s the point! To do away with the ‘pain in the neck’, we bring to you Seven Simple Steps (asanas or yoga postures) that are easy-to-do and won’t eat into your daily busy schedule. The best part of yoga is that it has been into existence for more than five thousand years and it’s still going strong.

Balasana or child’s pose: Kneel on the floor/Place your shin on the floor with toes touching each other. Sit on your heels. With hands by your side, exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs/bend from the waist laying your torso between your thighs. Slowly allow your head to touch the ground. Do as much as possible and don’t strain yourself. Your hands should be resting by the sides of your torso with palms facing upward.Stay in this pose for as far as possible and slowly while inhaling lift yourself back to the same position.Place your hands on your thighs with palms facing the ceiling as in a state of surrender to God. This pose not only neck pain relief and back pain but also calms your brain. It stretches the hips, thighs and ankles and makes you feel fresh like a child!

Natraja Asana or Reclining Twist: Lie on the floor with your back straight. Slowly lift your right leg and bring it over your left leg. While the left leg remains straight, make sure that the right leg makes a right angle on the floor. Stretch your hands either ways and face rightwards. Take few deep breaths, while being in this pose for thirty seconds. Repeat the same with your left leg. While making your muscles more flexible, it takes you to that state of contentment and bliss. Interestingly, this is the dancing pose of Shiva. Feel that Shiva tattva everywhere!

Bitilasana or Cow Pose: Start with your shin placed on the floor and the rest of the body postured in a table-top position (that is with your thighs, torso and hands). Make sure to have your knees directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders must be in line, perpendicular to the floor and so should be your thighs. Your torso must be parallel to the floor.Being in this posture, inhale and pull your tummy inwards towards the floor and lift your head upwards. Remain in this posture for a while and follow with the Cat posture (given below).

Marjaryasana or Cat Pose: Sequentially, exhale and round your spine towards the ceiling and bring your head inwards. Gently bring your chin towards your chest. Continue these two poses (cow and cat pose) in sequence while you inhale and exhale. Doing this would provide a gentle massage to your spine and belly organs absolutely free of cost, while also relieving you of neck pain!

Just for fun, you may imitate the voice of a cow and a cat while doing the Cow and Cat Pose: the feel-good factor!

ViparitaKarani asana or Legs-up-the-wall: This one’s simple. Just lay on your back with your legs straight against the wall. Feet must face the ceiling and your legs should be touching the wall. Rest with your arms out to the sides and palms facing upward. Take deep long breaths and breathe out at least fifteen times before you switch to the next pose. This yoga pose gently stretches the back of the neck, relieves mild backache and eases fatigue, helps in avoiding cramps and feet.

UtthitaTrikonasana or Extended Triangle Pose: Initially you stand straight. Now separate your legs as much as you can. With your back straight, extend your hands sideward. Inhale and slowly bend towards the right side, with your right hand touching your ankle and your left hand directed upwards. Look at your left hand while you are positioned in this posture. Remain in this posture as long as you can. Remember, not to stretch yourself beyond your limits. The purpose of Yoga is to relieve you from pain, not to give additional pain.


Gomukh asana

Sit with both legs outstretched. Slide your left foot under the right knee to reach the right hip. Cross your right leg over the left, stacking the right knee on top of the left, and let the right foot reach the left hip. Try to keep the heels equidistant from the hips. Sit evenly, inhale, raise your right arm and bend it at the elbow behind your head. Tuck your left arm close to your chest, push the shoulders back slightly and stretch the arm straight up. Interlock fingers of both hands.The forearms should be parallel to your spine. Now stretch the arms in opposite directions. Hold the position for as long as you can. Interchange the leg and hand positions and repeat.

Benefits:

Eases shoulder stiffness; corrects upper body posture; strengthens all muscles

Ashtanga Namaskara

Lie on your stomach, facing down. Place your hands, palms down, next to your chest—a little wider than shoulder-width apart.Your feet, knees, hands, chest and forehead should all touch the ground. Raise your hips slightly, pivoting the entire pressure on your palms. Breathe normally.

Benefits:

Strengthens chest and arms; increases blood circulation to upper torso, thus rejuvenating the area’s nerves


Shalabhasana

Lie on your stomach, hands beside your thighs and palms resting on the ground. Your chin should touch the floor. Stretch your body and keep it taut. Now raise your legs as high as you can, keeping the knees straight. Make sure there’s no stress on your shoulders, arms or chest muscles; only your stomach and lower back should feel the strain. Hold this position for as long as you can. Return to base position and rest for a minute. Repeat 3–5 times.

Benefits:

Activates blood circulation in the abdomen region; boosts the digestive system; counters constipation; strengthens the intestines

Kunjal Kriya

Mix 1 tbsp of salt in 1 litre of lukewarm water. Squat in kagasana(see pic). Rest your arms on your knees. Drink the salty water till you feel nauseous. When you feel like throwing up place your left hand on your stomach. If all the water is not thrown out naturally, induce vomiting by inserting your index and middle fingers as far back as possible into your mouth. The vomiting should be forceful and should flush out most of the liquid. If any liquid is left in your stomach, it will be excreted as urine.

Benefits:

Effectively cleanses the body; also boosts immunity against allergies; also helps combat indigestion and breathing trouble

CAUTION:

Those who suffer from high blood pressure, slip disc or hernia or have had any stomach surgery recently should avoid this kriya.

Kapalbhati Kriya

Sit in sukhasanaor padmasana, your neck straight. Place both hands on the knees in gyan mudra, eyes gently closed. Exhale forcefully through both nostrils, as you pull your stomach in. Repeat this 40–50 times till you are tired. Keep your body still during the kriya. Then breathe out completely and relax. Increase the process gradually to 80–100 times.

Benefits

Eliminates all toxins from air passages, cleansing body and mind; combats asthma and also massages the abdominal muscles and organs

Caution

If you have any heart disease, high blood pressure or hernia, try to exhale slowly.

Sheetkari Pranayama

Sit in a comfortable position, like sukhasanaor padmasana. Place both your hands on the knees in gyan mudra, eyes gently closed. Roll your tongue inside your mouth and keep your jaws closed. Now inhale with your mouth to your lungs’ capacity. As you inhale, make a sound. Exhale through your nose. Repeat the process 20–30 times.

Benefits

One of the best and easiest ways to purify blood; very helpful in fighting gum problems and bad breath; doesn’t let one feel too thirsty

Kaki Mudra

Sit in sukhasanaor padmasana. Raise your hands to the nose level. Inhale to your lungs’ capacity through your mouth. Close your mouth. Now join your fingertips and close your nostrils with your thumbs. Hold your breath for as long as you can with your cheeks bulging out. Exhale through the mouth. Repeat 3–5 times.

Benefits

Usually associated with longevity; excellent for fighting stress-related disorders; stimulates digestive organs and rids the body of impurities; helps fight low blood pressure

Bhastrika Pranayama

Sit in a comfortable position like padmasana or sukhasana, with your back straight and eyes closed. Form the gyan mudra and place your hands on your knees. Exhale to max capacity through both nostrils, then inhale through both with force. Repeat this continuously till you feel tired. Start slowly, and speed up gradually. Maintain a rhythmic pattern; inhalation time should equal exhalation time. When you breathe in, your lungs should expand—not your belly. Repeat according to your capacity, 30–40 times.

Benefits

Supplies maximum pran vayu to the body; removes impurities and also purifies blood.

Kriya Yog

The Times of India, Sep 26 2015

Nayaswami Devarshi 

Kriya yoga makes you aware & centered

Swami Sri Yukteswar, Paramhansa Yogananda's guru, once advised his disciple, “Saintliness is not dumb ness! Divine perceptions are not incapacitating! The active expression of virtue gives rise to the keenest intelligence.“ One's spiritual practice should have application on all levels in order to be fully meaningful, including in one's daily life ­ whether it be business, raising a family , in friendship, the arts, even information technology and computing.In fact, the T9 and Swype communication technology used on millions of mobile phones was invented by a kriya yogi, using the principles of meditation and divine communion to realise his desire to help people communicate more easily .

Having worked closely with thousands of kriya yogis over the years i've seen that the liberating kriya path ­ and other true meditation practices ­ improves people's lives in every way .Kriya Yoga, done properly , makes one a more wise and loving parent, a better friend, a kinder and a more compassionate person, and even a more astute and honest businessperson.

One could say that Kriya Yoga particularly was brought especially for these times. In his Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda states that the sage who brought kriya back to humankind in 1863, Mahavatar Babaji, “is well aware of the trend of modern times, especial ly of the influence and complexi ties of western civilisation“.

The influence and complexity of western civilisation, whether one likes it or not, has essentially spread across the entire world. Scientists studying the human brain are now convinced that the ancient , `technology' of meditation is essential to having a rich, fulfilling and successful life ­ in the face of many insidious modern technologies that cause so much stress and restlessness. Spiritual practice, such as Kriya Yoga, gives one the power to be happy at will. Does that sound too good to be true? Having seen that truth demonstrated in the lives of many proficient Kriya Yoga practitioners, and others with a committed meditation practice, i found myself asking `how?' The answer is simple, and an essential part of the truths expounded by the great sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. Patanjali showed convincingly that pranayama, `control of the life force', is a prerequisite for the deepest states of meditation. Such control also gives one more control over feelings and emotions ­ including the ability to be happy under all circumstances; to have a keener intelligence; to awaken higher human qualities such as compassion and kindness; to be more creative in the arts and sciences; and much more. Going deep into a true meditation path is therefore the most practical thing that one can do.

That control of the life force is also the reason why great saints and masters can remain unruffled under all conditions. And for many , the changes caused by deep meditation are responsible for the deep compassion that great souls express in their service to others.

Paramhansa Yogananda described Kriya Yoga ­ and by extension, meditation ­ as a science. Any true science must be able to be proven by experimentation, by anyone in the world. Considering that we experiment with so many things in our lives ­ diet, exercise and lifestyle ­ why not give a year of your life to experimenting with meditation? As many recent studies have shown, you may find that your very brain cells change, along with your entire outlook on life.

Benefits of Yog(a)

The Times of India, Aug 21 2015

Jayant B Dave

Revisiting the benefits of practising Yoga

Yoga is essentially a spiritual practice and is an intensely practical approach for moving towards the eternal absolute reality, the very centre of our lives; it is therefore the heritage of all humanity. Like God, man also is absolute existence, knowledge and bliss in essence.Vinoba Bhave also describes yoga as appointment with the Self and its rightful identification. The pain and suffering perpetually experienced by man is due to ignorance of his true Self and attachment to mind and matter. Practice of yoga helps restore the lost link between man and his infinite source and mitigates the problems faced by him individually and collectively. The much sought after values of harmony and peace appropriately appear in the logo of International Yoga Day that was launched on June 21, 2015. The spontaneous response evoked throughout the country and rest of the world reflects our deep and abiding faith in the experience of yoga in our daily lives. The enthusiastic response across the globe vindicates the faith the United Nations and its member countries placed in accepting yoga as a universal science of Self that helps in bringing about physical, mental and social well-being, all essential ingredients of health as per the definition of the World Health Organisation. In this century, the concept of one world and oneness of humanity is gaining momentum leading to exchange and interchange of cultural values, scientific knowledge and many aspects of human life among the cultures of the East and West.The subject of yoga is of great importance in this regard.

Secondly , yoga should not be misconstrued as a religious cult, thereby curbing its nature and scope as a universal way to holistic living. Evolution of yoga as a body of practical techniques goes beyond theoretical concepts and despite its philosophy and history originating in Hindu and Eastern thought, yoga cannot be circumscribed to Hinduism as explained by Swami Chidananda. Yoga may be applied within the framework of religious life but it transcends religion and is therefore supra religious.

Thirdly , yoga is a science not only for the past, but for the present and distant future as well. Yoga is not a rigid science as it offers scope for infinite expansion. Anything that helps one in ascending towards truth, moving towards Selfrealisation, and is in accordance with one's need and temperament can be called yoga whether or not it has been stated in a yoga text or explained by a yoga teacher.Yoga in fact works as a mirror of body , mind and soul and helps us see ourselves as we are. Fourthly, yoga is much more than asanas, pranayamas, physical and mental health. Four systems of yoga are in vogue ­ Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Kar ma Yoga and Raja Yoga. The last path referred to as Ashtanga Yoga (eight limbs) and pioneered by Maharshi Patanjali is commonly understood as yoga. Three aspects are of great importance in its practice. Ethical purity and ridding the mind of its impurities implied by yama and niyama are the prerequisites. Asana, pranayama and meditation complement one another as body, prana (vital force) and mind are closely interconnected.

Lastly , when the concentrated mind is absorbed in divine reality , meditation culminates in samadhi, a state of super consciousness, where consciousness is raised from physical or psychic level to the infinite, transcendental, spiritual level. Until this happens, practice of yogasana and pranayama is like conditioning of the stringed instrument before divine music is created.

Benefits

The Times of India Feb 01 2016

Deepak Chopra

5 cure-all asanas , India Today , June 16, 2016

Between work, raising a family , and B coping with an uncertain economy stress has become a “normal“ part of daily life for most people. That could , explain why so many Americans ­ about 16 million at latest count ­ have started taking yoga classes or doing yoga at home. This ancient practice, which started in India more than 4,000 years ago, connects mind and body through a series of postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. By stretching and toning the muscles, flexing the spine, and focussing the mind inward, yoga helps reduce stress. That can impact your overall health since stress plays at least some role in many illnesses.Studies show that chronic stress doubles the risk of heart attack, for instance.

Yoga has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, which can help reduce a person's risk of heart disease.A 2006 study found that yoga helped lower cholesterol levels and improve circulation in people who have cardiovascular disease. While the evidence of yoga's success in reducing a person's body mass is mixed, one study did find that yoga can help people lose weight by leading them to a healthier lifestyle.

Many people report that yoga gives them an overall feeling of well-being.But research shows that it may also help alleviate specific kinds of pain including migraine headaches lower back problems, arthritis and pain during childbirth.One theory is that the yoga postures work like the way massage works.

Since yoga involves mind as well as body , it's not surprising that it may help reduce anxiety and depression, especially in people whose anxiety is related to an illness like cancer. A 2007 study found that in experience study found that in experienced yoga practitioners, a 60-minute yoga session increased levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA. Low levels of GABA have been linked to depression and anxiety disorders. Another pilot study suggests that yoga may influence depression by increasing the alpha waves in the brain.Alpha waves are associated with relaxation. Yet another possibility is that yoga reduces the amount of cortisol, a hormone that the body releases in response to stress. Some scientists think chronic high levels of cortisol may be tied to depression as well as impaired immune function.

Yoga can also make you look more toned and fit and help you move with greater ease, especially as you grow older.

There are several different styles of yoga. The most popular style in the US is Hatha yoga, a relatively slow-moving, gentle her styles such as Ashtanga (also style. Other styles such as Ashtanga (also known as power yoga) are more vigorous.Find out about the different kinds of yoga that are offered at classes in your area. Choose the style that fits your goals and level of fitness. If you are pregnant or have any serious health conditions, talk to your doctor before you begin. Once you start a class, let your teacher know about any injuries or health issues.

Whichever style of yoga you choose, take it slowly at first. Don't try to force yourself into difficult poses at the beginning. After a while, you will develop more flexibility , strength and stamina.Your teacher shouldn't push you to do poses that aren't comfortable. If your teacher is going too fast, talk to him or her, or look for a class that is a better fit.

While yoga won't cure everything that ails you ­ or make your boss nicer ­ it will help you deal with stress better. And that could make a big difference in your overall health.

A daily routine for good health

[ From the archives of the Times of India]

Stick to a regular regimen for sleep, food and your daily cleanliness habits to stay healthy, says yoga guru Surakshit Goswami


Follow a regular routine to enjoy good health. Ayurveda prescribes an ideal daily regimen from the time we wake up in the morning to going to bed at night. Get up before daybreak after a refreshing sleep and start your day by taking stock of whether the meal you ate the night before has been properly digested or not.

A daily morning routine

If you want to ease yourself,do so. Otherwise, brush your teeth and drink water kept in a copper utensil. If the weather is cold, have warm water. Drinking this water clears the oesophagus and intestines and helps in defecating and urinating. It is unwise to apply pressure while defecating as it can lead to piles. Then after brushing, cleaning the tongue, gargling, washing the face and eyes, start your exercise regimen. Regular exercise increases energy, improves appetite, strengthens muscles and bones, helps organs to function properly, increases circulation of blood and oxygen and removes toxic foreign elements from the body.

Yoga and massage

Yoga is ideal as it keeps the body fit, refreshes the mind and can cure any disease. Practice yoga for half hour to an hour daily and follow it up with a five to ten minutes body massage. A regular oil massage of the body keeps old age, fatigue and mental disorders at bay. It also ensures sound sleep and makes the skin glow. In winter, the oil you use should warm your body; in summers, the oil you use should cool it. To improve blood flow to the heart, massage should be done from the lower part of the body to the upper part. The acupressure points of the body are automatically pressed during massage keeping the body healthy.Follow this with a bath after the body regains its normal temperature. Don’t skip your bath, unless you are ill. Dry your body briskly after a bath – it cuts flab. Have breakfast with milk, porridge, fruits and sprouted grains. Avoid p a r a n t h as, p a k o r as, bread and items of m aid a. At 1 pm, take a lunch break. Keep a straight posture while working. Eat your dinner by 8 pm and go to bed two hours later.

Yog(a) and digestion

From the archives of “The Times of India”: 2008

HARD TO DIGEST

• Stress can hamper your digestion and this may adversely affect your skin. Stay stress-free!

• A weak digestive system doesn’t produce enough hydrochloric acid, which is essential for liver function. If the liver function is affected, toxins accumulate in the body tissues and organs. It may also cause hormonal imbalance in the body, thus only worsening any acne condition.

IMPORTANT TIPS

• Keep a strict check on your diet. Eat lots of fibre-rich food. Also eat raw fruit and vegetables; their nutrients are easily processed and assimilated by the body.

• Avoid fried, spicy and nonvegetarian food; digesting it puts a lot of strain on the digestive system.

• Have wheat-based breads.

• Avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol; they stimulate hormone production.

• Dairy products like cheese, cream and yoghurt should be avoided as they are acidic in nature and not readily digested.

• Chew 2–3 neem leaves everyday; neem acts as a natural blood purifier.

Yoga Nidra

[http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/relax-yourself-with-yoga-nidra/ Dinesh Kashikar and Shriram Sarvotham , Relax yourself with yoga nidra "Daily Excelsior" 22/10/2017]

Ask yourself – after a yoga routine, what do you do? Gaze outside your window, start planning the next stops in your day, head for a juice?

While most people treat yoga as a body workout, the truth is a yoga routine provides deep restoration to your body and mind. And to make your practice more effective, it’s ideal to end your yoga sequence with yoga nidra.

Just as a car engine needs to be turned off and allowed to cool down after a long drive, similarly, after doing yoga postures, we need to cool our body with yoga nidra. It helps conserve and consolidate the energy from the yoga poses (active) practices. Yoga nidra relaxes the entire system, preparing it for pranayama and meditation. It is therefore important to keep aside sufficient time for yoga nidra after yoga postures.

Let’s Get Ready

For Yoga Nidra

In yoga nidra, we consciously take our attention to different parts of the body, which activates the nerves in those areas and helps to integrate the impact of the asanas (yoga postures) into our system.

Here is a step-by-step guide to do yoga nidra.

Tip: It is a good idea to cover yourself with a blanket to keep yourself warm. The body becomes warm while doing postures and a sudden drop in temperature is not suitable.

  • Lie down straight on your back inCorpse Pose (Shavasana). Close your eyes and relax. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Remember to take slow and relaxed breaths, and not ujjayi breaths.

Tip: If you feel any discomfort or pain in lower back, adjust your posture or use a pillow to elevate the legs a little, for more comfort.

  • Start by gently taking your attention to your right foot. Keep your attention there for a few seconds, while relaxing your foot. Then gently move your attention up to the right knee, right thigh and hip (again for a couple of seconds). Become aware of your whole right leg. Repeat this process for the left leg.
  • Similarly, take your attention to all parts of the body: genital area, stomach, navel region, chest, right shoulder and right arm, followed by the left shoulder and left arm, throat, face and the top of the head.
  • Take a deep breath in, observe the sensations in your body, and relax in this still state for a few minutes.
  • Now, slowly becoming aware of your body and surroundings, turn to your right side and keep lying down for a few more minutes.
  • Taking your own time, you may then slowly sit up, and whenever you feel comfortable, slowly and gradually open your eyes.

Sukshma yoga is also practised as one of the quick way of yoga for relaxation.

Yoga nidra is thus a joyous, effortless way to end your yoga practice. Just let go, relax and enjoy the experience that follows.

Factors that create hinderances

The Times of India, July 1, 2011

Yoga guru Surakshit Goswami describes the symptoms that Maharishi Patanjali had listed as factors that create hinderances in the regular practice of yoga

There is a reference by Maharishi Patanjali to several character traits that stop a person from practising yoga regularly.

Vyadhi  :Fever caused due to imbalance in elements, juices and organs of the body is known as v y a d h i. According to ayurveda, imbalances of wind, bile and cough cause disorders in the body and improper digestion impedes the secretion of juices and the elements essential for it. This causes v y a d h i. It causes weakening of body organs.

Styaan  :Lack of energy to perform a certain activity even when one is keen to do it is called s t y a a n.

Sanshaya  :Uncertainties or anxieties like, “Would I be able to practise yoga?” or “Would I succeed?” are called s a n s h a y a. These uncertainties play in the mind and create confusion.

Pramaad  :The inability to practise yoga even when one has the physical ability and the mental inclination to do it is called p r a m a a d.

Aalasya  :Laziness to do something because of a sense of physical and mental heaviness is called a a l a s y a. The body becomes heavy due to the attack of cough, while the mind seems heavy because of an excess of the t a m a g u n a.

Avirati  :Attachment with objects of desire or the lack of ascetic behaviour because of the wandering of the sense organs is called a v i r a t i.

Bhrantidarshan  : False or untrue knowledge and lack of belief in the yogic discipline is called b h r a n t i d a r s h a n.

Alabdhabhumikatva  :

When a person is unable to reach the samaadhi stage even after constant and regular practice of yoga, it is called a l a b d h a b - h u m i k a t v a.

Anavasthhitatva  :This is a person’s inability to keep the mind calm and to concentrate even after attaining the stage of samaadhi.

Panchkoshas

The Times of India, July 22, 2011

In yoga, it is important to know the significance of the last two p a n c h k o s h as or receptacles that keep the sensitivity of the a t m a n intact and covered, says yoga guru Surakshit Goswami

The p a n c h - k o s h as — a n - n a m a y, p r a n m a y, m a n o m a y, vijn a n m a yanda n a n d m a y— are the five receptacles that keep the sensitivity of the a t m a nintact and covered, hence the term, k o s h. The first three p a n c h k o s h as were described earlier; the remaining two are described here.

Vijnanmay kosh

The mind enables one to experience knowledge. The sense organs are controlled by the mind, and the mind works with instructions from the a t m a n. Questions have been raised in the K e n o p a s h a dto determine how the mind is attracted towards objects of desire and how eyes and p r a n aperform their functions. It is said the mind has its own mind, the eyes their own eyes, the speech its own speech, the p r a n aits own p r a n aand the ear its own ear. This is the a t m a n. A resolute person attains immortality by being acquainted with his a t - m a n. The mind, however, cannot access the a t m a nbecause it functions under its influence. The mind is motivated by the a t - m a nto gather knowledge and this it makes available to the a t - m a n. Knowledge is classified into five categories, according to the organs through which acquired — vision, hairing, smelling, touching, tasting. Our mind’s reasoning ability should be resolute or we will be befuddled and will not be able to acquire knowledge. Meditation is prescribed for cleansing and invigorating the vijn a n m a y k o s hto improve reasoning ability so that we make prudent decisions.

Anandmay kosh

Acquiring knowledge is blissful and motivates the mind, p r a n a and a n n a m a y s h a rir. All beings pursue happiness because of their a t m a n. In B rih a d a r a n y a k U p a nis h a d, Yajn a v alk y asays that a t m a nis the dearest of all things. Only to provide happiness to the a t m a nis a husband dear to his wife, a father dear to his son, and so on. A n a n d aor bliss is also a k o s hor receptacle of the atman, but is not the a t m a n. These k o s h as envelop the a t m a nand are filled with consciousness only through a t m a n. A person usually experiences bliss only for a brief period of time, and it continues only in s a m a a d hi. After a person attains sid h hior perfection in s a m a a d hi, confusion and scepticism are resolved and love, hatred, passion, anger, greed, ego, and possessiveness vanish. In s a m a a d hi, a yoga practitioner remains blissful, detached and liberated.

Pranayama

The Times of India, Aug 6, 2011

The practice of yoga includes a s a n as, meditation, and p r a n a y a m a. Yoga guru Surakshit Goswami explains the importance of pranayama, which cleanses our 72,000 blood vessels

Stabilising the flow of life force in our blood vessels is called p r a n a y a m a. It is made up of two words, p r a n a and a y a m a. P r a n ais the breath or life force without which no one can survive. Ay a m ameans stabilising or expanding the p r a n a.The process of inhalation and exhalation begins at birth and ends with death. By practicing p r a n a y a m a, one can control the rhythm of inhalation and exhalation. P r a n aenergy resides in the body and keeps body and mind fit. It is the basis of all activities of the body and mind. P r a n ais of five types. These are p r a n a, a p a a n, s a - m a a n, v y a a n, and u d a a n. P r a - n a y a m ais a scientific method of controlling the breath, leading to better health for mind and body. P r a n aor life force should be controlled in the same way as lions, elephants or tigers are tamed – gradually and with patience. Life force, when controlled under compulsion, has a negative impact. By doing p r a n a y a m ain a wrong way, you can suffer from hiccups, fever, breathing ailments, cough, headache, pain in the eyes and ears.

A natural cleanser

Pranayama cleanses all the body’s 72,000 blood vessels, besides curing diseases of mind and body. It helps you slim down and radiate vigour. In the process, your mind is filled with happiness and your k u n d alini power is awakened. Just as fire purifies gold, so p r a n a y a m apurifies and cures ailments of the sense organs. In yogic discipline, it is believed that an ailment occurs in an organ when the circulation of life force in that organ gets imbalanced and disorganized. P r a - n a y a m a, therefore, ensures optimum circulation of life force in every part of the body and helps to eradicate diseases.

The magic eight

H a t h y o g P r a dipik adescribes eight types of p r a n a y a m a. These are s u r y a b h e d a n, ujja a yi, sit k a a ri, s hitli, b h a s t rik a, b h r a a - m a ri, m o o r c h aand pla a vini. According to H a t h y o g, before doing these p r a n a y a m a s, the blood vessels of the body should be cleansed by n a d h - is h o d h a n p r a n a y a m a. This plays an important role in preventing and curing diseases and in keeping a person healthy. P r a n a y a m ais usually done after doing the a s a n as. You begin with n a d his h o d h a n p r a n a y a m a, also called a n ulo m - vilo m, as it cleanses the blood vessels and makes the three main n a a disof the body supple.

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