How does one get started with Yoga

How does one get started with Yoga?

Today fast paced life-style gives rise to numerous stresses and health ailments. Yoga is a holistic approach for better living. But, how does one get started with Yoga? There are many forms of Yoga- Ashtanga Yoga; Hatha Yoga; Bhakti Yoga; Kundalini Yoga; Power Yoga; Mantra Yoga; Raj Yoga etc. list is endless.

The Yoga Institute advocated Classical Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga for the Yoga beginners. This suits everyone. Simple answer to how does one get started with Yoga? Try out the SAHAJBHAVA ASANAS- Non-traditional techniques of The Yoga Institute.

Sahajbhava Asanas; for flexibility- Often, due to a poor lifestyle and neglect, one suffers pain and stiffness in the body (especially in the joints) which gradually reduces the flexibility of the body. This condition can be rectified by the practice of Sahajbhava Asanas on a regular basis. These techniques create awareness of the body, the breath and keep the mind attentive. The term ‘Sahaj’ here means to facilitate. Performance of these techniques facilitates the body and mind to be established in Sahajbhava–readiness.

Read More: Simple but Powerful Practices to Change the Way You Handle Stress

A. Preparation:
1. Practice these postures slowly and with full awareness.
2. Though these postures are said to be done standing, most of them can be done sitting as well. If sitting, then sit in any meditative posture on a mat or on a straight back chair without arms.

B. Starting position for all variations:
1. Stand with feet slightly apart or at a one foot distance. Keep the eyes open.
2. Hold the head straight and hands by the sides or on the thighs.
3. Keep the abdomen tucked in and shoulders squared so that an erect posture is maintained.

C. Head and Neck:
Variation 1:
1. Gently, as you inhale, allow your head to drop towards your left shoulder without lifting the shoulder.
2. Exhaling, bring it back to the centre.
3. Drop it to the left shoulder, as above, and return to the centre.

Variation 2:
1. Inhaling, tilt the head backwards as far as possible without moving the shoulders or the body. Gaze upward and backward at the ceiling.
2. Exhaling, bring the head down towards the throat, tucking the chin into the throat cavity.
3. Inhaling, return to the centre.

Variation 3:
1. Inhaling, turn the head to look far right.
2. Exhaling, return to centre.
3. Repeat on the other side.

Variation 4:
1. Inhaling, drop the head to the right and gently rotate the head, taking it back, from right to left
to reach the left shoulder.
2. Exhaling, return to the starting position–up straight. Note: there is no forward bending of the head.
The above steps are to be done in one gentle continuous motion.
3. Repeat the above steps starting from the left. This is a clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation of the head.

D. Shoulders:

Variation 1:
1. Keep the hands by the sides. Inhaling, lift the shoulders as high up as possible, towards the ears, to form a “cup”.
2. Exhaling, relax the shoulders.

Variation 2:
1. Keep the hands by the side.
2. Practise shoulder rotations taking the rotation from back, down while exhaling and then front, upwards while inhaling. This shoulder rotation can be done with each shoulder separately too.

Variation 3:
1. Place the fingers on the respective shoulders, with the elbows touching each other in the front.
2. Rotate the shoulders, raising the elbows up in the front and then going outwards while inhaling and down to come back in the front to the starting position, while exhaling.
3. Now rotate in the opposite direction i.e. while exhaling move the elbows downwards, outwards and then inhaling up, return to the starting position.

Variation 4:
1. Keep the arms relaxed and straight by the side.
2. Rotate them by the side–clockwise and then anti-clockwise. This arm rotation can be done with each arm separately too.

E. Hands:

Variation 1:
1. Clasp the hands in front of the chest; intertwining the fingers and palms facing the chest.
2. Inhaling, stretch them outwards, parallel to the floor.
3. Exhaling, bring them close to the chest.

Variation 2:
1. Same as Variation 1, except that in step 2, while stretching the hands, turn the palms out, away from the chest.

Variation 3:
1. Clasp the hands above the head; intertwining the fingers and palms facing down.
2. Inhaling, stretch them upwards, straightening the elbows.
3. Exhaling, bring them down towards the head, bending the elbows.

Variation 4:
1. Same as Variation 3, except that in step 2, while stretching the hands, turn the palms out, towards the ceiling.

Variation 5:
1. Keeping the hands straight, clasp the hands at the back; intertwining the fingers.
2. Inhaling, raise the arms upwards, as far as possible, keeping the trunk straight.
3. Exhaling, relax and bring the hands down.

Variation 5:
1. Take both hands behind and join the palms (fingers pointing up) to form a Namaskara Mudra at the back. Maintain the pose for 5 seconds; breathe normal.

Variation 6:
1. Take the right hand up; fold it to let the palm fall behind the neck, elbow pointing upwards.
2. Now take the left hand behind and fold it to clasp the fingers of the right hand.
3. Practice both sides alternately; breathe normal.

Variation 7:
1. Interlace the finger at the back of the neck, elbows pointing out in front.
2. Inhaling, move the elbows towards their respective sides; exhaling, bring them back to the front.

F. Elbows:
1. Raise both the arms in front, at shoulder level. Inhale.
2. Exhaling, bend the elbows and touch the shoulder with fingers.
3. Inhaling, straighten the arms again. Keep repeating few times.

G. Wrists:

Variation 1:
1. Raise arms in front, at shoulder level.
2. Close the fingers and rotate the fist–clockwise and then anti-clockwise.

Variation 2:
1. Raise the arms from the side, at shoulder level, palms facing down.
2. Keeping the arms straight, flap the palms up and down.

H. Trunk:
1. Stand straight, with feet 20-24 inches apart with hands on the waist.

Variation 1:
1. Gazing straight ahead, bend the trunk to the right, inhaling. Keep the hips and legs fixed, only curve the spine.
2. Exhaling return to the centre.
3. Repeat the above, to the left.

Variation 2:
1. Gazing straight ahead, bend backwards, arching the spine, inhaling. Keep the hips and legs fixed, only curve the spine.
2. Exhaling, return to the centre and bend forward.
3. Inhaling, return to the centre.

Variation 3:
1. Gazing straight ahead, exhaling, turn right, twisting the spine.
2. Inhaling return to the centre.
3. Now repeat to the justify.

I. Knees:

Variation 1:
1. Stand erect, gazing straight ahead.
2. Tighten the knees and then relax it, alternately.

Variation 2:
1. Gazing straight ahead, balance the body on the left leg and bend the right knee, exhaling.
2. Inhaling, bring it down to the floor.
3. Now repeat, bending the left knee.

Variation 3:
1. Gazing straight ahead, balance the body on the left leg and lift the right leg up from the hips.
2. Bend the right knee to keep the thigh parallel to the floor.
3. Holding the right thigh up, rotate the right knee–clockwise and anticlockwise.
4. Repeat with the left leg.

Variation 4:
1. Stand erect, keeping the feet together.
2. Bend forward and cup the knees with the respective palms.
3. Rotate the knees, keeping the feet fixed, clockwise and anticlockwise.

J. Ankles:

Variation 1:
1. Gazing straight ahead, balance the body on the left leg and lift the right leg up from the hips.
2. Bend the right knee to keep the thigh parallel to the floor.
3. Holding the right thigh up, point the toes outwards and then inwards, several times.
4. Repeat for the left leg.

Variation 2:
1. Repeat the first 2 steps of variation1.
2. Holding the right thigh up, rotate the right feet clockwise and anti-clockwise
3. Repeat for the left leg.

K. Limitations/ Contraindications:
1. No limitations for people with reasonably good health. Those with specific problems can practice sitting or lying down.
2. Can be practised by all, as per individual comfort.
3. Exceptions would be post-surgery or as specified by a physician.

L. Benefits:
1. Practice results in a leaner and stronger body
2. Functions as ‘warm up’ stretches, imperative to any asana session–loosens taught muscles.
3. Helps initiate the flow of blood and energy through the body.
4. Provides a gentle but deep internal awakening of the musculature into action.
5. Breathing rhythms–aids energy flow to each cell.
6. Builds immunity against several infectious ailments.
7. keeps one fit and youthful.
Now that we have the answers to how does one get started with Yoga? Try these simple do it yourself asanas and experience the benefits today.

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