6. Yoga Asanas – Mithila

4 Oct

Yoga means ‘Integration’ or union or synthesis or holistic state of being. ‘Asanas’ means postures. Yoga Asanas therefore mean postures that promote integration of life force.

The functioning of life force in us is well established when we practice Asanas of Yoga. The ancients found that the practise of these Asanas (postures) helps vitalising body. This is because when we perform the Asanas the life force is stimulated to activate every centre of activity in us.

The Asanas help in keeping the elasticity of the spine and smooth functioning of the joints. A spine that is kept supple helps better reception and transmission of life force. The Asanas also stimulate the glands for proper secretion when they are regularly performed. The body gets revitalised and OLD AGE gets ARRESTED! Yes. It is true. It is the experience of many. The body remains young, elastic, supple, active and energetic. The skin gains shine when Asanas are performed, with oil applied to the body.

Asanas help development of resistance to diseases. A practitioner of the Asanas does not fall sick, even if the environ is not very healthy. He will be able to meet the cold and heat with much ease than others. The changing seasons have no effect on Yoga Asana practitioner.

Another very interesting aspect of the practice of Asanas is that it arrests indiscreet eating. The tongue does not tend to tempt. The digestive system functions better. The bowel movement gains regularity. The tendency for obesity also gets checked.

Man disturbs the rhythm of his breath during the daily life activity through haste, anxiety, fear, anger, irritation, disturbance, jealousy, pride, prejudice, doubt, suspicion etc.

He also disturbs the rhythm of the breath due to lack of balance between work, food and rest. Even while he plays, he disturbs the rhythm of breath. The zeal to win, causes further disturbance. The anxiety of being vanquished also disturbs. Poor human being! He is prone to disturbance of the rhythm of his breath with the slightest impact! The loss of rhythm of breath is the cause for disturbance of the life currents within. It is like dropping a pebble into the still waters of a lake. The disturbance is like the ripples that happen on the surface of water. The life currents get disturbed. It takes time for life currents to regain poise. In the meanwhile man drops another pebble into the still lake of life. Even before poise is gained, another disturbance is caused. When the daily activity of man thus continuously disturbs the life activity within, he contacts disease.

In this context, Asanas offer excellent solution. They put back the rhythm of breath, when performed under the guidance of a teacher. Health is a state where there is rhythmic functioning of life force in us. Asanas help in this direction. They are even considered better than gymnastics and athletics.

Time For Asanas:

The best time for Asanas is considered to be in the morning. In tropics, a few minutes before sunrise, Asanas are practised, exposing the body to the morning sun-rays. They have excellent effect on the body. The time before sun-rise and during sun-rise contain much life giving energies. Hence this time is considered best. If the climate is not favourable for exposure to sun-rays, morning time can be chosen for practice of Asanas indoors, where there is a window to the East.

If the morning time is not convenient, evening time is the alternative for practice of Asanas.

Place For Asanas:

A place where there is enough ventilation and breeze is considered a good place for practice. A place where morning light or evening light falls is recommended. If climate permits open place is preferable. The place shall have to be kept neat and clean always. Keeping a candle and burning incense during and after practice keeps the place pure. One should never practise Asanas in a dark, non-ventilated room. Playing soft string music during Asanas’ practice yields better mental tranquillity.

Preparation for Practice of Asanas:

Asanas should not be performed when the stomach is heavy. There has to be a gap of 3 to 4 hours after intake of food. Empty stomach is preferred. If one feels weak, he may take a cup of milk, fruit juice or lemon water with honey.

Clearing the bowels before the practice of Asanas has much beneficial results.

Clear the bowels, clean the body, entertain quiet disposition before you perform Asanas. Let the breathing in and breathing out be complete while performing . During Asanas while you contract the body exhale and while you expand the body inhale. Do not be in a hurry while you perform.

If you can mildly apply olive or sesame oil and lightly massage for 5 minutes before you perform Asanas it has catalytic effect. Massage joints also when you massage your body.

Asanas for Relaxation

1. Shavasana (Corpse posture)

Procedure:

1. Lie on your back upon a flat surface with arms beside your body. Keep the palms upwards.

2. Slowly move the feet apart. Also move the hands apart with palms upward. The moving apart shall have to be slow, to find a comfortable posture.

3. Gently close your eyes and mentally and physically relax the body – every joint, every limb and feel total comfort with the body.

4. Gain rhythm of breathing applying your mind upon it. If the mind goes away, bring back and apply upon breathing.

5. Become quiet and remain.

Effect:

Physical and Psychological relaxation.

2. Advasana (The Reversed Corpse posture)

Procedure:

1. Lie on stomach.

2. Stretch the legs and the hands straight.

3. Relax the body in the same manner as described in ‘Shavasana.’

Benefits:

This Asana is good for people with back-ache, slip-disc and cervical stiffness. One may move the neck slowly to the right and the left to yield elasticity of the neck joint.

Effect:

Physio and Psychological relaxation.

3. Makarasana (The Dragon posture)

This is a slightly altered posture of the preceding Asana (Advasana).

Procedure:

1. Lying on the stomach slowly raise the head and the shoulders.

2. Rest the head on the palms, with elbow support.

3. Ensure that your elbow joint and your ears make a vertical line.

4. Ensure the head horizontal to the floor.

5. Ensure that the soles of the feet are kept upwards by stretching the ankles.

6. Follow the relaxation steps as given in Shavasana.

4. Siddhasana (Meditative posture)

Procedure:

1. Sit with your legs stretched forward.

2. Fold the right leg and place its foot upon your left thigh.

3. Fold your left leg and place the foot upon your right calf.

4. Your legs are now locked with the knees on the ground. The left heel should

be on the right heel and the right heel pressing the Perineum.

5. Make your spine straight.

6. You may use a cushion under the buttocks to achieve the posture.

Effect:

Excellent Asana to redirect sexual nervous impulse back up the spinal cord to the brain. It gives control over sexual functioning. Useful for Spiritual purposes.

Apply your mind on the Heart or Eye-brow Centre after you accomplish the posture. It calms the mind and the nervous system.

5. Vajrasana

Procedure:

1. Stand on your knees with the back stretched backward.

2. The knees have to be together and the heels apart.

3. Settle your buttocks within the hollow of the feet.

4. Sit erect, placing your hands on the knees with palms touching the knees.

5. Close the eyes and apply the mind on respiration.

Benefits:

Aids the digestive system – a posture recommended after meals.

Prevents hernia

Aids women in childbirth.

Helpful to people with peptic ulcer and hyperacidity.

6. Supta – Vajrasana

Procedure:

1. Sit in Vajrasana and bend backward.

2. Take the support of arms and elbows until the head touches the floor.

3. Rest the top of the head on the floor.

4. Slowly remove the elbow support and keep the hands on the thighs. Effect:

Helps strengthening the spinal nerves.

Prevents abdominal troubles.

7. Sasankasana

Procedure:

1. Sit in Vajrasana. Lift the hands slowly upwards inhaling. Slowly bend forward exhaling, touching the floor with the nose and with the stretched hands, the palms touching the floor.

2. Rest in the posture. Again, lift up the hands and the trunk inhaling and bend forward again exhaling. Perform as many times as you feel comfortable, not exceeding 10 times.

Effect:

In the bent posture when hands are joined behind while bending, it stimulates the adrenal glands.

8. Bhujangasana

Procedure:

After Vajrasana, slowly raise on the knees, rest your hands vertical to the ground and stretch the body backwards. The spine bent forward is now bent backward to relax. Raise your head as much as you can to look up.

Effect:

Strengthens the back. Tones up the liver. Useful for women to achieve timely periods.

Helpful to the pregnant women.

Recommended for people with back-ache, slipped disc and displaced ribs.

9. Tadasana

Procedure:

Raise Your arms and the toes simultaneously.

Keep the palms together and the two big toes of the feet together. Inhale as you raise. The whole body shall have to be raised on the two toes that are together.

Effect:

Promotes spinal bone growth.

Develops balance.

Cleans congestion of spinal nerves.

10. Trikonasana

Procedure:

1. Stand erect with your feet apart.

2. Raise your arms on either side horizontally.

3. Bend the body forward by 90 and look forward.

4. Slowly raise your right hand and touch the right toe with the left hand, also turn your head along the right side to look at the right arm fingertips.

5. Get back to the bent posture (3) and this time slowly lift up the left hand, catch the left foot toe with the right hand, moving the head along with the left hand to look at the fingertips.

6. Do this 10 times.

7. Inhale while raising your arms horizontally and exhale while you bend and while you move the hands to catch the toe.

8. Do the movement slowly and gently.

Effect:

This Asana massages the nervous system of the spine.

Good for persons with nervous depression.

It helps remove constipation. It also massages the abdomen.

11. Shalabhasana (The Locust posture)

Procedure:

1. Lie horizontally on your stomach with face pressed to the ground.

2. Keep the two fists of the two hands under your thighs.

3. Raise the legs straight from the waist backwards – do not bend legs at the knee.

4. Inhale and retain the breath when you raise your legs and the abdomen.

5. Perform the process 3 to 5 times.

6. Concentrate on the Throat Centre.

Effect:

Tones up the liver, the abdominal organs.

Cures the diseases of the stomach, the bowels and tones up apetite.

It strengthens the sciatic nerves.

12. Dhanurasana (The Bow posture)

Procedure:

1. Lie on the stomach and inhale fully.

2. Bend the legs at the knees and hold the ankles with the hands.

3. Draw the legs as near as possible raising the head, the shoulders and the chest.

4. Inhale and hold the breath in the bow posture. Release the breath as you release the posture.

5. Apply your mind upon the Throat Centre.

CAUTION: Do not practise this Asana if you have peptic ulcers or hernia or back-pain.

Effect:

Removes the excess fat of the abdomen.

Promotes the functioning of stomach, abdomen, liver and intestines.

Note: The 2nd posture is a simpler version of Dhanurasana, where the legs upto knees remain on the ground.

It has the same effect of the first but of lower efficacy. It is recommended that this Asana is practised first and the first asana next.

13. Chakrasana (The Wheel posture)

Procedure:

1. Lie on your back with legs folded back to touch the buttocks and keep your arms in folded fashion around your ears on either side, with the palms touching the ground.

2. Slowly raise your trunk with the support of the legs and the hands. Raise as much as you can to form a convex curve to look like a wheel or like an arch.

3. Let your head be in line with your hands.

4. Inhale and retain breath during the posture. After you gain ease in the posture, you can breathe normally in the posture.

5. Apply your mind upon the Solar Plexus.

CAUTION: Not recommended to persons with coronary ailments, high blood pressure and stomach ulcers.

Effect:

Entire glandular and nervous system is toned up.

Abdomen is toned up very effectively.

14. Paschimottasana

Procedure:

1. Sit on the floor with legs stretched and kept together.

2. Catch the two feet with the two hands and bend forward the body as much as you can.

3. The posture is complete when you touch the knees with your nose or with your forehead.

4. The posture becomes easier as you pull the trunk forward and lower it.

5. Do it gently. You will gain the posture through regular practice. Do not force the posture.

6. Do not bend the knees.

7. As you bend forward, exhale slowly. Inhale after the posture is complete. Thereafter let there be slow breathing.

8. Apply your mind upon the Sacral Centre.

Effect:

Removes the fat in the abdominal region.

Eliminates flatulence and constipation.

Activates pancreas, liver, kidneys and adrenal glands.

Cures female sexual maladies.

Causes spiritual awakening.

15. Padahastasana

Procedure:

1. Stand erect and slowly raise your hands together over your head. Let the hands touch your either ears in raised position.

2. Slowly bend forward, along with the head. Let the hands remain in touch with ears while bending.

3. As you go down bending touch the toes with the hands. If possible bend further to touch the knees with the nose.

4. Slowly raise into erect position raising the hands, the trunk and the head.

5. Exhale while bending and inhale while releasing from the bent position. Breathe slowly in the posture when you gain ease.

6. Keep the legs straight while you perform the posture. Do not bend them.

7. Apply your mind upon breathing.

Effect:

Same benefits as in Paschimottasana.

16. Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand posture)

Procedure:

1. Lie flat on your back with your feet together. Keep your palms on either side.

2. Raise the legs and the back as much as you can and then with the support of the hands on your back raise the whole body upto the neck vertically.

3. Inhale and retain the breath while assuming and releasing from the posture. Breathe slowly while in posture.

4. Apply your mind on the Throat Centre.

Effect:

Promotes the function of the Thyroid gland.

Improves the circulatory system, digestive system and glandular system.

Adjusts improper body growth and conducts rich supply of blood to brain.

Cures piles.

Cures diabetes.

CAUTION: Not to be practised by heart and B.P. patients.

17. Halasana (The Plough posture)

Procedure:

1. Lie flat on the back with legs straight and arms beside the body.

2. Slowly raise the legs, the back upwards – keep the legs straight while raising. Use the stomach muscles while raising.

3. Push the legs downward over the head. Take the support of the body to push the back vertically.

4. As the legs touch the ground, relax the body in the posture.

5. Inhale and retain the breath until you move the body vertically. Exhale as you bend the body, bringing down your legs. Breathe slowly thereafter.

6. Apply your mind on Solar Plexus.

Effect:

Has the best effect on all organic functioning viz., the kidneys, the liver, the pancreas. Promotes digestion, removes constipation. Reduces the waist.

Cures diabetes and piles. Gives optimum health.

18. Arthamatsyen

Procedure:

1. Sit with your legs in front of your body.

2. Fold your left leg to keep the foot-palm under the right buttock.

3. Place your right foot flat on the floor across the left knee.

4. With your right hand catch the right toe with your elbow across the left foot.

5. Turn your body from the waist to the left by 90º and face by 180. Alternate the posture.

6. Apply your mind on the Ajna Chakra (Eye-brow Centre).

Effect:

Promotes the functioning of pancreas, tones up the nervous system, loosens the vertebra, massages the adrenal glands, removes digestive ailments, cures lumbago.

CONCLUSION: Conclude the Yoga Asanas with Shava Asana. Later give 5 to 10 minutes pause. Slowly get up and relax in a chair for 5 minutes. Take a shower thereafter.

Do not be in a hurry to eat until after 30 minutes.

Surya Namaskara
(Salutations to the Sun)

 

This is a 12 postured Asana considered as a comprehensive Asana, done exclusively by Yoga students. Strictly speaking this is not part of Hata Yoga Asanas but yet an age-old Asana that tones up the whole body when done 12 times a day before the sun-rise hours.

If one intends doing this Namaskara, it should be done before performing the Asanas prescribed herein. Even if Asanas are not performed on a day, performance of this Namaskara itself tones up the body.

Sun is the centre of our Solar System. It takes 12 months for our planet to move around the Sun. During 12 months Sun gives 12 varieties of Sun Rays which are described in Astrology as the Qualities of the 12 Sun signs. Essentially Sun gives Life force and this Life force has 12 varieties.

The Asana ‘Surya Namaskara’ therefore, offers 12 postures to the 12 Sun-signs as a correspondence. Performance of these 12 postures daily prevents ill-health of any kind and hence should be taught to children from the childhood.

The Asana should be performed facing the East and at dawn before sunrise.

Inhale while expanding the body and exhale while contracting the body as you perform the posture.

Alternate the movement of the legs in posture 4 and 9 and do the ‘Surya Namaskara’ of 12 postures. Thus the complete Surya Namaskara carries 24 postures.

With each of the postures a seed sound is also given for meditation. The seed sounds are six in number to be repeated in two rounds for one Surya Namaskara. Again, they have to be repeated twice when the alternate Surya Namaskara is done. Thus in all, for one complete Surya Namaskara there will be four times utterance of the six seed sounds.

When seed sounds are uttered along with the postures, the practice is more beneficial. They can be uttered vocally and in group while practising the postures.

        

 

Posture Numbers

Seed Sound

1 and 7

OM HRAM

2 and 8

OM HRIM

3 and 9

OM HROM

4 and 10

OM HRAIM

5 and 11

OM HROUM

6 and 12

OM HRAHA

Similarly for the alternate posture.

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