Tag Archives: Yoga

YOGA FOR RUNNERS

YOGA PRACTICE FOR RUNNERS

Yoga,they say is very complementary to running and that the runners should include atleast twice a week yoga practice in their routine.Because YOGA  improves their form and balance and decrease their susceptibility to overuse, injuries of the lower extremities, including plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, patellofemoral (knee) pain, IT band syndrome and trochanteric bursitis (hip pain). Yoga also improves their focus before and during the race, when mental staying power is as important as physical endurance.

During the course of an average mile run, your foot will strike the ground 1,000 times. The force of impact on each foot is about three to four times your weight. It’s not surprising, then, to hear runners complain of bad backs and knees, tight hamstrings, and sore feet.

A typical runner experiences too much pounding, tightening, and shortening of the muscles and not enough restorative, elongating, and loosening work. Without opposing movements, the body will compensate to avoid injury by working around the instability. Compensation puts stress on muscles, joints, and the entire skeletal system.

The below mentioned yoga poses will help the runners not only to run but also will prevent them to be sidelined by injuries and discomfort brought on by your running program. Chronic injuries can eventually self-correct through a gentle yet consistent yoga practice. Remember, your body is on your side. It has an inherent intelligence to bring about a state of equilibrium no matter how many times your feet hit the pavement.

yoga-poses-for-runners-01-fiss431DOWNWARD FACING DOG

“The most common issues for runners are shin splits, knee and foot problems, and IT-band syndrome so poses that are going to lengthen, strengthen, and open the hips, quads, calves and hamstrings are recommended.” Downward Dog does a lot of that, in addition to opening the arms and upper back, she says—which also tend to get tight after long stretches of repetitive forward-and-backward swinging. Lift your hip bones straight toward the ceiling and push your heels into the ground for the best overall stretch.

 

 

yoga-poses-for-runners-02-fiss431UPWARD FACING DOG

Runners often have very strong legs but weak upper bodies including the core and arms, which may hurt their performance. Practicing an upper-body yoga sequence can help build strength in these neglected areas, she says. From Downward Dog, move into plank (or high push-up) position, lower halfway to a low push-up, and then roll over your toes and arch your chest upward into a backbend for Upward Dog.

 

yoga-poses-for-runners-03-fiss431PASCHIMOTTANASANA/FORWARD BEND

Any pose that involves reaching for your toes is great for stretching your hamstrings and calves,  pulling up on your toes can also stretch your arch and your IT band—a perpetually tight muscle in runners that travels from the hip to the outer knee. Harrison likes to do both standing and seated forward folds after a run. For the best stretch when seated, hinge at the waist and reach as far you can with a straight back before folding over your legs. If you can’t touch your toes when standing, bend your knees slightly or stand with your feet slightly apart, or place your palms on your calves.

Yoga_BoundAnglePose_01_300x350COBBLER’S POSE

Sitting in Cobbler pose (also known as Bound Angle pose), with the soles of your feet touching and your knees wide apart, opens the lower back, hips and inner thighs, especially when you fight the urge to hurry through your routine and hold it for several minutes at a time. If your hips or groin feel too tight to sit up straight or to bring your heels in close to your pelvis, sit on a block or a blanket. Don’t force your knees down to the ground, but let them drop naturally so you feel a gentle stretch.

yoga-poses-for-runners-05-fiss431RECLINED PIGEON POSE

This pose is great for improve the range-of-motion and flexibility in your hips, which will in turn lead to better running form. For this stretch, lie on your back with your knees bent, and cross your left ankle over your right quad. Gently pull your legs toward you for a stretch in your left glute and hamstring, then repeat on the other side.

 

 

imagesBRIDGE POSE

Backbends help open the shoulders and the front of the body, and also strengthens the core. “They’re good counterposes to running, because the longer we run the more we tend to hunch forward.” Lift your hips up toward the sky and try to keep your body in a straight line with your core engaged. To open your chest even further, clasp your hands together underneath your pelvis and try to roll your shoulder blades toward each other

 

yoga-poses-for-runners-07-fiss431ARDHYAMATSYENDRASANA

“Running is all forward and backward, and there’s not a lot of turning or swiveling or lateral movement,” says Harrison. “You’re essentially stuck in the same position for however many miles you’re going.” Twists can help loosen and lengthen the spine, and can ease a stiff neck and shoulders after a long run. You can do a basic twist while sitting Indian style—or, try Half Lord of the Fishes pose: Cross one leg over the other, knee pointed toward the sky and the sole of your foot on the ground. Reach your opposite arm across your body and push it against the outside of your thigh, near your knee, to deepen the twist.

 

yoga-poses-for-runners-08-fiss431ANJANAYEEASANA

Low lunges are a great way to start your yoga practice, because they get your whole body engaged,” says Harrison. “They also force you to practice your balance, which is an important skill for runners.” Lunges stretch out both the front and the back of the legs, open the hips, and strengthen the core. To take a low lunge even further, drop down onto your elbows in Lizard pose. This position works all kinds of muscle groups — thighs, groin, abs — and improves flexibility in the split-legged position that’s similar to a running stride.

 

yoga-poses-for-runners-09-fiss431TREE POSE

Balancing on one leg is great for athletes—runners especially. “The more you can strengthen your legs and improve your balance, the less likely you are to twist an ankle or fall down when you’re on a trail or any type of uneven ground.” To master Tree pose, fix your gaze on an object in the distance—whether it’s the horizon line or a spot on your studio wall. Once you’re able to stand in Tree for 30 seconds to a minute, make it harder by practicing with your eyes closed.

 

triangle-pose3TRIANGLE POSE

This type of twist can be really difficult for runners because their hips and glutes are so tight—but it can also be extremely beneficial for the same reasons. If moving into Triangle pose causes pain in your outer hip, she adds, try resting your arm on a block instead of the floor. No matter what sequence of poses you do, Harrison adds, remember that your breath is also important—both on the mat and on the track. “If you can practice lengthening and evening out your breath while you’re stretching, it will also transfer to smoother, calmer breathing while you run.

 

slide_354574_3877179_freeGARLAND POSE

Also called the Garland Pose, the squat in yoga isn’t all that different from the one you’ve done at the gym, form-wise. To get into the position, squat with your knees over your toes — legs at a 45-degree angle from the midline — and hold your hands together like you’re praying. The heels don’t necessarily need to touch the ground. Hold for five to 10 breaths. The squat stretches the back, inner thighs, calves and feet — everything that tightens up from running.
slide_354574_3877180_freeLOCUST POSE

Despite its unfortunate name, the locust is a simple and essential pose for distance runners. To do it, lay on your stomach with your hands by the hips, then lift your torso, arms, and legs simultaneously. Hold this for five to 10 breaths and repeat three times.

It’s not as easy as it looks. This position strengthens the muscles in your neck, back, and the backs of the arms and legs. You’ll find that it improves your posture, especially toward the end of a marathon-length run, when those core support muscles start to give way. Plus, you’ll have a little more protection from lower back injuries that start to plague us mostly in our thirties.

 

slide_354574_3877181_freeBOAT POSE

The boat might feel familiar if you’ve done crunch variations. It’s arguably more difficult, though, if you focus on form and not just scorching the core. To get there, sit with the knees and ankles together, then lift your legs and arms into a V position. Hold for five to 15 breaths and repeat three times. We’ve always found it difficult to know if we’re balancing on the right part of the seat: What you’re aiming for is the triangle formed by your sit bones (the bones that support you on a bike saddle) and tailbone.

The important thing with the boat is to keep your back long and straight, strengthening the core and the hip flexors, which are hard to target but get hammered during runs.

 

Yoga’s internal focus centers your attention on your own body’s movements rather than on an external outcome. Runners can use yoga practice  to balance strength, increase range of motion, and train the body and mind. Asanas move your body through gravitational dimensions while teaching you how to coordinate your breath with each subtle movement. The eventual result is that your body, mind, and breath are integrated in all actions. Through consistent and systematic asana conditioning, you can engage, strengthen, and place demands on all of your intrinsic muscle groups, which support and stabilize the skeletal system. This can offset the effects of the runner’s one-dimensional workouts.

BY-

PRATIBHA AGARWAL

INSTRUCTOR AND DIRECTOR

ANAHATA YOGA ZONE

 

Yoga for children

imageYoga for children

Children have many unexplained and unexpressed problems. They cannot express their problems correctly because their powers of expression and their knowledge of their own psychology is not mature enough. Hence, problems which children have are usually expressed in their behaviour and unless a psychoanalyst analyzes the behaviour of children he will not get an accurate diagnosis. It becomes very difficult for most parents because they are not psychoanalysts, and they consider the problems of their children subjectively. For instance, if a child is arrogant and disobedient, the parents will brand him as ‘disobedient’ but will not go deeper into the cause of the disobedience. If the child does not want to stay at home but wants to be with his friends, good or bad, the parents will brand him a vagabond, a loafer. A psychoanalyst will try to analyze the cause, but most parents cannot do it. It is not because they don’t know how to analyze, but just because they are the parents. They have a kind of prejudice; they are biased.

There is a kind of imbalance between certain tendencies in children from the ages of seven to twelve. Physical growth and psychological growth do not mature together. ‘physical growth’ here is in relation to the brain, nervous system and endocrine system. Sometimes the physical growth is much ahead of the mental growth and many times the mental growth is much ahead of the physical growth, which is the primary basis for problems in children.

As we can see, the pineal gland is very important. In yoga it is known as ajna chakra and it is situated in the brain at the top of the medulla oblongata. It is a very small gland and it acts like a lock. As long as the pineal gland is in good health, the anarchical sexual behaviour does not occur.when the child is about eight years of age the pineal gland begins to degenerate.this decay corresponds to the beginning of sexual maturation,precipitated by the release of hormones from the pituitary gland.many children do not cope well during this transitional period,when sexual awareness is developing.the refore pre-adolescent problems,disruptive behaviour is often envisaged at this age ,such as anger,resentment,or violence,much of which can be directly or indirectly attributed to hormonal imbalance. Sex consciousness should develop when the child is able to balance its reaction in his mind. If the awareness of sexual fantasies develops before he is able to express them, it can hit him hard. He may sometimes have frightening, terrible, fantastic or confusing dreams. At the same time, in his day to day life, he tries to overcome this awareness by behaving in a way that people do not like. Now if the pineal gland is out of the picture too early, the whole confusion starts.The child becomes restless because she is not physically ready to express this new development.

The problem does not stop here,the parents by and large are either unaware or ill equipped to understand these physical changes in the child which results in an aggressive behaviour in them.

In such a scenario,the practice of yoga which can maintain the health of the pineal gland and can give years of life to it comes in handy and becomes very important. This is why, in India, we have been teaching surya namaskara (a dynamic yoga exercise); nadi shodhana pranayama (for health and balance of the pineal gland); mantra (to challenge the child’s distracted mind); Trataka (to maintain the pineal gland).

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Static asanas should be taught after maturity. Until puberty the body of the child- the bones, the nervous system, everything- is growing rapidly, so asanas should be given which involve the growth. After maturity, static asanas and static balancing asanas are very good for them. For children we teach dynamic exercises like surya namaskara and dynamic/static combined, such as paschimottanasana. Static postures like sirshasana can be taught after puberty.

If the children are stooped, then forward bending postures must be avoided and backward bending postures must be frequently practiced.

If the child has congested glands (tonsils, ears) he should practice simhasana, the lions posture.

If children wet the bed, asanas like trikonasana and ardha matsyendrasana must be practiced.

Also the yoga should be adopted and customised for the children.a yoga session for children should include games,fun and challenges.
Even the asanas and pranayama taught should be in an innovative manner for example a set of 10 asanas can be blended in a story and can be practised with a story narration.
Also pranayama,for ex kapalbhatti,or exhalation can be emphasised with the child blowing into his index finger placed closed to his nose as though he is blowing out a birthday candle.

Let us pledge to take yoga to the children and teach them in an effective,fun way….so that they add life to their years.

 

 

BY PRATIBHA AGARWAL

ANAHATA YOGA ZONE

SOURCE-Bihar school of yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREVENT INJURIES IN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

Common-Yoga-Injuries-and-How-to-Avoid-Them_BAG_featuredThe eastern philosophy of “be happy ,in whatever you have”has long been taken over by the western mind set to “always want more”.And this can be seen in our yoga practice too,many people unfortunately are lured to yoga by popular studios across the country as a quick fix alternate to lose wight,look good and feel toned.

A friend of mine recently joined a yoga studio after reading its advertisement for weight loss.The very first day of her yoga class and she was made to 54 rounds of surya namaskars and close to 12 asanas holding each asana for about 3 mins.

After the class all excited,she called me up,saying how lovely the class was,how much she sweated and how light she felt.

After a week or so I got an sos call from her,asking if I knew any orthopaediatrician cause her lower back is hurting a lot.

And unfortunately this is not one stray incident,but this happens all the time to most of us if we continue to do yoga without the knowledge of our own body,the alignment principles and certain safety measures to be adopted during our yoga practice.

 

Pain in the Asana — The Need-to-Know

While most yoga injuries aren’t severe and go unreported, more serious issues do occur, including strains and sprains, fractures, dislocations, and, in rare cases, bone spurs, sciatic nerve damage,back pain etc. But according to yoga experts, injuries can happen any time, in any sport, or even walking down the sidewalk — and scary injuries are rare. Most yoga injuries develop gradually over years of consistent over-stretching and misalignment. As with any physical activity, the safest approach to yoga is

• Yoga includes a sophisticated set of practices that ought to be practiced under the supervision of a competent teacher. Attempting yoga postures on your own could result in improper technique ensuing into injuries. Make certain to search out a qualified teacher before you start practicing

• Developing student physical awareness: Many students (especial beginners) are typically unaware of their physical limits and range of motion. To prevent injuries, make sure the beginners’ are smaller in order to able to keep an in-depth eye on all students.

• Avoid overexerting yourself. Remember, yoga is some thing that you will learn and develop over an extended amount of your time. Enable enough time for the body to develop the desired flexibility and strength before attempting advanced yoga postures.

• Continuously bear in mind to warm up before your yoga session. Never skip a warm up session. Warming up is of utmost importance because it is an injury prevention program for the body.

• Use props – Props are very important in preventing injuries. The unfortunate issue is that several students do not use them. You ought to additionally make sure that you utilize the props yourself. Once you try this, your students will presumably feel comfortable once they use them and this reduces the probabilities of students injuring themselves. When teaching, you ought not label entirely different poses as basic, intermediate, or advanced. Once you label poses, you are sure to have several injuries. Massive numbers of student are aiming at reaching the advanced levels quickly, which can create a mindset of competitiveness and result in injuries. As a tutor, you ought to clearly justify the importance of precaution and do not expect your students to discard their egos no matter how many times you tell them that yoga is not a contest.

COMMON AREAS OF INJURY AND THE PREVENTIVE STEPS TO BE TAKEN

  • Wrists: When it comes to the wrists, it’s all about leverage. Placing all of the body’s weight in the wrists when the hands are on the mat can lead to muscle and joint injuries.
    Find relief: When in doubt, spread ‘em. In any pose where weight is placed on the hands (such as down dog), distribute the body’s weight through both hands by spreading them wide and pressing through the fingers. In down dog, push the hips back to decrease the angle of the wrists to the floor. In arm balances, such as crow pose, look to see that the elbows are stacked directly over the wrist.

Elbows: Joint pain in the elbows can result from bending them out to the sides in poses likechaturanga. While it may be easier to execute, lowering down with outward-pointing elbows can stress the joint and can also put undue stresses on the wrists.

  • Tuck and lower: When bending the elbows in a pose (particularly plank or chaturanga), keep the elbows tucked alongside the ribs as you bend them, and make sure the elbows’ creases face forward. If this is difficult (yes, it’s a serious test of triceps strength!), begin with the knees on the floor. Remember, you can always work up to the unmodified version through regular practice.

Shoulders: Beware the shrug. By raising the shoulders up toward the ears (like when moving intoup dog), yogis stop using the supporting muscles in the arms, shoulders, and neck. Shrugging also compresses the shoulders, which can cause muscle injuries. Even worse: It’s easy to injure the shoulder girdle or rotator cuff (and even dislocate the joint) by over-extending or over-stretching.

  • Let go: Be careful not to pull too hard on the shoulders in stretches, and always keep the shoulders held back and down away from the ears.

Ribs: Twists are awesome for releasing tension, but if done improperly they can overextend or bruise the intercostal muscles (the muscles in between the ribs).

  • Twist, don’t shout: Lengthen upwards through the spine before twisting. Imagine that someone has a string attached to the crown of your head and is very gently pulling you up toward the ceiling. Twist to the point of feeling a stretch but not past it, even if you’re flexible

.Lower back: Lower back pain is the most frequently cited yoga injury, and teachers speculate that it’s likely the result of rounding through the spine in poses like forward folds and down dog. Rounding causes the spine to flex the opposite way that it’s supposed to, which can cause disc problems in addition to that achy feeling post-class.

  • Soothe the spine: Before bending, imagine lengthening the spine up and away from the hips to avoid rounding. Still struggling to stay on the straight and narrow? Try bending the knees in poses like forward folds and down dog,  since the culprit could be tight hamstrings. During seated forward folds, try sitting on a blanket or block to take pressure off the lower back.

Hamstrings: Spend most days sitting in front of the computer, in class, or in the car? Guilty as charged. As a result, many of us have tight hamstrings, so it’s easy to pull or over-stretch them in poses like forward bends.

  • Hamper pain: Down dog and lunges are great ways to stretch the hamstrings (just remember to go slowly and work at your own pace). If you have any kind of hamstring injury, try laying off poses that extend through the back of the body and legs until the injury heals.

Hips: It’s easy to over-extend the hips’ range of motion in splitswarrior poses, and wide-legged forward folds,  which might tear the muscles of the inner groin or inner thighs.

  • Get hip (to proper form): A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the toes are pointed forward in any pose where the hips are squared off in the same direction (think: warrior I). Imagine there are headlights attached to the front of the hips and that you’re trying to keep the area straight ahead of you illuminated at all times.Also if hips are tight ,try to elevate the hips by sitting on a block or blanket.This will help to keep the back straight without causing too much strain on the lower back.

KneeKnee issues can plague even experienced yogis . A common culprit of pain is the cross-legged position. Flexibility carries from the hips first; if the hips are tight in the pose, the knees will be the first place to feel pain or tension.

  • Prevent the pain: For those regularly bothered by knee pain, avoid sitting in cross-legged position or full lotus for long periods unless the hips are already very flexible. Placing a block or rolled-up blanket under the knees in cross-legged positions can also help reduce strain. Any time the knee is bent in a standing pose (such as warriors I and II), look to see that there’s a vertical line from the bent knee to the heel — this ensures that the body is bearing weight properly.

NeckHead and shoulder stands can be the worst culprits for neck pain and injury. Repeatedly and incorrectly placing pressure on the neck in poses such as shoulder stand and headstand can compress the neck and put pressure on the cervical vertebrae, resulting in joint issues and, in some cases, loss of neck flexion.

  • Prop it up: Have chronic neck or shoulder issues? It might be best to avoid full inversions all together (or attempt them only with close supervision and using props that elevate the neck away from the floor). For those who already practice the pose without props, make sure the shoulder blades are drawn down and back so they’re safely supporting the body. Most importantly, never jerk the head once you’re up in the pose, because it can destabilize the body, possibly causing a fall.

597979-1331-11Turn “Ouch!” into Ommm — Your Action Plan

Proper alignment in poses is key, but it’s not the only factor in a safe yoga practice. To stay blissed out instead of stressed out over injury, follow the basic guidelines below.

  • Leave ego outside. It can be tempting to rush into more advanced poses (how tough can handstands be, right?), but pushing our bodies before they’re ready is a recipe for injury. Yoga is “about finding where you are, “not trying to push to a place where your body may never be able to go.”
  • Warm up. It’s an important part of any physical activity, and yoga is no exception. Basic stretches (like neck and shoulder rolls and gentle twists) help prepare the body for more challenging poses later on in a sequence. And remember to give the mind a chance to warm up to the practice: Take a few breaths to get centered at the beginning of class, or establish a pre-flow ritual (such as chanting some Oms) to get grounded.
  • Ease in. No one would expect to run a marathon the first time they lace up their sneakers. Don’t expect to do a headstand or even get the heels to the floor in down dog the first time you hit the mat. Instead, opt for beginner-friendly classes that will develop the foundation for more advanced moves.
  • Communicate. Get to know the teacher and be sure to share any pre-existing issues that might require modifications in certain poses.If you don’t know how to modify or use props, ask. And if a pose just isn’t working, don’t be embarrassed to simply… not do it. Instead, focus on the poses that provide benefit and release.
  • Come out of postures slowly. This is particularly important if you’ve been holding a certain pose for several minutes. A good rule of thumb is to work out of a pose as gradually as you moved into it.
  • Use props and modifications. There’s no shame in not being ready to hold a pose completelyon your own. If there’s tightness somewhere in the body, other parts of the body will have to accommodate it — which is why it’s so important not to push the body past what it’s able to do on a given day.  Props and modifications allow the body to get a feel for a pose and gradually work up to its full variation without injury.
  • Never lock your joints. Hyper-extension (locking) is a sure-fire way to wear out joints and cause injury down the road. Focus on engaging the muscles around the joints to gain stability .
  • If you do get injured, take care. If you tweak, pull, or tear something during a yoga flow, don’t be afraid to step out of class early. Care for it like any other sports injury, and seek a professional’s opinion if the pain persists.
  • Stay for savasana. It’s easy to head for the door as soon as the instructor calls for savasana (the final resting pose of a yoga flow), but sticking around is good for your health. Savasana allows the body’s nervous system to slow down and brings closure to the practice. Even just two or three minutes can have an effect.
  • Above all: listen to your body. At all stages of yoga practice, stay mindful. Really listen to your body so you can be sensitive to any tightness or strain. Just because you did a particular pose one day, doesn’t mean your body will be able to do it the next. “In our yoga practice, “we are building a relationship with our bodies the same way we build them with other people: by listening.”

 

To sum it up,your yoga practice whether its hatha,power,vinyasa or ashtanga or any other style should be holistic,should be under guidance of trained and experienced instructor and above all should be mindfull where you learn to know and respect your own body.

 

-PRATIBHA AGARWAL

DIRECTOR AND INSTRUCTOR

ANAHATA YOGA ZONE

 

 

References:

Understanding and Preventing Yoga Injuries

International Journal of Yoga

 

ARE MEN INTIMIDATED BY YOGA………..?

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Where are all the male yogis?

Yogasana is a practice that was designed by men, originally intended for men. But the undeniable absence of men in the yoga classes makes you wonder….. Why is it that in this new age, men share no interest in taking part in this amazing practice? Is it because, they identify emotions like aggression and competition with physical activity? Or is it because they simply haven’t understood the holistic nature of yoga practices? Are they not aware that these lessons stretch far beyond a body position — they transcend into life. Yoga has seven additional limbs, with asana as only one — the most popular. Are they not aware of the fact, some of the best athletes of today incorporate yoga into their everyday lives? Many celebrity men, not only from India but all over the world are following the path of yoga.

There have been many misrepresentations of yoga, especially now that it has been commercialized; many skinny women are seen advertising yoga. May be that is why, yoga is perceived to be a gentle form of physical activity for feminine, delicate bodies. These misconceptions are very common amongst those who don’t fully understand the practice.

For all men out here, let’s be clear… yoga does not make you dainty or feminine. It makes you strong and durable. It provides you with a constant challenge to become a better form of yourself, day in and day out. It teaches you how to find comfort and contentment in some of the most uncomfortable situations.

Is it not funny, when guys say, ‘I don’t think I should do yoga because I’m not flexible’? It’s like saying, ‘I’m too weak, so I can’t lift weights.’ Actually if one is not flexible, that’s the precise reason one should be stretching on the yoga mat.

Majority of the men, are naturally tight. Though boys and girls may be born equally flexible, by adolescence, boys generally lose flexibility faster than girls, and as boys become men, the differences in flexibility tend to grow. Researchers have noted this gap, although they can’t specifically link it to differences in hormones, musculature, or connective tissue. Whatever is to blame, the typical man’s pursuits and lifestyle, does not help them to retain the original flexibility.

While increasing your range of motion and flexibility, yoga postures enhance the aesthetic of the physique. It even enables you to lift heavier weight. Additionally, most yoga poses are held for longer durations than traditional exercises. This causes your muscles to have an isometric contraction which increases overall muscular endurance.

Lifting weights shortens muscle fibers, leading to reduced flexibility. Asanas like plank, cobra, up-dog and most inversions, help in building great scapular durability, which is a prerequisite for upper body strength training. Exercises like bench press, pull ups and seated row all depend on the serratus anterior, trapezius muscles, etc. in order to perform these exercises.

Most yoga classes begin with a reminder to honor your body’s particular needs and limits on that particular day. This basic ability to scan and assess yourself as you practice will help reduce the incidence of injury when running or playing other sports. Plus, flexible, well-stretched yoga muscles will heal and recover more quickly after working out or getting strained.

Men often suffer from tightness particularly in the hips, hamstrings, and shoulders that can lead to injury or weakness. Over-training in any one sport can cause repetitive stress and other more serious injuries.

Yoga is a full-body workout that creates both strength and flexibility. You need to have both. One without the other is a recipe for disaster. The yoga session for men should include the practices which stretch out guys’ tightest spots (like the shoulders, hips, and groin) and strengthen muscles that get no love during workouts (like the low back and knees).

Forward Bend : Padhastasana
Stretches hamstrings, calves, and hips; strengthens legs and knees
What’s good about it ? This is a great move to use as part of a warm-up for any workout.
Sometimes it’s difficult to know that buildup of tension in head, neck and shoulders, and can create headaches, insomnia, poor circulation and decreased lung capacity. If you practice slow, steady breathing along with this pose, it can lower your blood pressure over time.

Downward-Facing Dog : Adhomukh shwanasana
Stretches feet, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves; strengthens arms, legs, and core
What’s good about it? Men often experience back pain due to chronic tightness in the hamstrings and hips. It’s also common for them to have very tight shoulders. Down Dog releases those areas, while building upper body strength. If you can do only one pose a day, start with Downward Dog.

Chair : Utkatasana 

Stretches shoulders and chest; strengthens thighs, calves, spine, and ankles
What’s good about it?  No gym necessary! Chair pose torches abdominal fat while strengthening the thighs and legs.

Crescent Lunge : Anjaneyasana

Loosens tight hips by stretching the groin; strengthens arms and legs
What’s good about it? Tight hips can cause lower back pain, knee strain, and injury, which can keep you out of the game, out of the gym, and in pain at your desk. Add Crescent Lunge to your pre-workout routine to open the hips

 

Warrior I : Veerbhadrasana I
Stretches shoulders and hips; strengthens upper and lower body
What’s good about it? Warrior increases space and mobility in areas where men need it most—shoulders, hips, and knees. It’s another pose that generates great stability in and around the knee, so increases stability for high-impact workouts.

Bridge pose : Setubandhasana
Stretches chest, neck, spine, and hips
What’s good about it? Many men are tight in the intercostals muscles and connective tissue surrounding the rib cage, which can limit lung capacity. Bridge pose opens the chest and releases those tight muscles, allowing for fuller, easier breaths. Over time, practicing this pose can improve performance in all physical activities and is helpful for relieving upper respiratory issues.

Bow Pose : Dhanurasana
Stretches hips, shoulders, and thighs; strengthens back

What’s good about it? One of the best stress-busting poses, Bow opens the chest to allow you to take in more oxygen. Strong abs are great, but can lead to injury if you don’t strengthen the back, too. Bow pose takes care of this, reducing your risk of injury due to muscular imbalance.

 

Boat Pose : Naukasana
Strengthens abs, spine, arms and hip flexors

What’s good about it? In addition to strengthening the core and back muscles, Boat promotes healthy prostate gland function.

Hero Pose : Virasana
Stretches knees, ankles and thighs

What’s good about it? Hero pose stabilizes and strengthens the vulnerable knee joints while lubricating the connective tissues in and around the knee with blood, oxygen, and fluid, making it an essential pose for runners.

Reclining Big Toe : Supta Padangusthasana
Stretches hips, thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves; strengthens the knees

What’s good about it? This pose stimulates the prostate gland and improves digestion. Runners may find it useful for relieving sciatica caused by a tight piriformis.

Bringing yoagsana practice in the routine will make a man realize that the mat offers him a place to calm his nerves and breathe deeply. He returns to the office rejuvenated and relaxed, ready to work with a purpose.

Although the primary mission of yoga is balance (in both body and mind), it seriously challenges your strength and flexibility. There are a fair share of poses that put people—particularly men—to the test. Advanced yoga positions that every guy should strive to achieve are Chakrasana, Shirshasana, Sarvangasana and Halasana.

Even though yoga practices are safe (if done under able guidance), men also have to be more mindful about injuries. As some yoga teachers observe, men also are more likely to push into a position rather than relax into it or avoid it completely. As with anything, the baby-step approach helps. Developing your practice from simple to advance postures, understanding the ways to approach a posture and the non-competitive attitude helps!

MEDITATION:

Meditation—the ability to quiet your mind—is probably the biggest challenge! The ability to obtain focus and clarity is a tremendous advantage for everyone. The practice can also teach a guy who’s overwhelmed by his many responsibilities that the best way to get things done is by being present—focusing on one thing at a time. Meditation has vast benefits from improving your mental focus, clarity, lowering stress levels, to kick starting your immune system. Practice every day to settle the mind.

The countless benefits of yoga extend far beyond gender. Open up to possibility and indulge in opportunity. Be well!

 

BY SUJATA NERURKAR

 

SPRING UP…………..!!!!!

“Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal and transformation in our lives.” ~Mary Ann Brussat

Spring is a time of dawning light, new life, new birth, and new hope — a time of warmth, exuberance, dancing, and blossoming. Spring is a season of renewal and rebirth. It’s a time when buds become leaves and flowers.

As outside, so inside! Watching the leaves fluttering to the ground in the fall, we are reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in our lives. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that have been a burden. All the religious traditions pay tribute to such acts of relinquishment. After the cleaning and letting go, here comes the spring, making way for fresh possibilities and new commitments. It’s a time to revive our senses and expand our horizons. It’s a time to begin again.

Windows are open wide in the spring, carpets hang outside on the line, and the breeze is gentle and warm. It is the best time to rid yourself of unwanted accumulations, vacuum the dust, take down cobwebs. To make way for new growth, it helps to clear our mental landscape of any destructive thoughts or feelings.

Challenge your fears. Anytime new insight replaces an old assumption or a fossilized perception is the spring. New understandings sprout, new tolerances appear, and new curiosity draws you to previously dark places. Just as the sun shines earlier and longer in the spring, changes that seemed impossible appear to be possible with each new insight into your own health.

All forms of life are designed to adapt to their environment, becoming dormant in the autumn and reactivated in the spring. We humans are no exception. Spring is the perfect time to effect a positive change in our lives because the ever-lengthening days of warmth and light — and all of nature’s responses to them — are powerful cues for new growth.

It’s time to stimulate the growth cycle by syncing yourself with nature. The sun is the ultimate source of energy, light, and warmth for all of life on earth. Simply witnessing the solar ascent is enough to lift our spirits, but bright sunlight also stimulates serotonin production, gifting us with a sustained elevation in mood and vitamin D production, providing us with an essential pro-hormone with many rejuvenating properties.

The spring wakes us, nurtures us and revitalizes us. So, if the spring is in our mind, we do not have to check the calendar and be restricted with it. We can bring our own spring more than once in a year.

Yoga practices open up the “spring state” of mind. By practicing asana, pranayama, meditation, or OM chanting, we nurture and revitalize our inner self.

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We evolve !

Creating the fertile ground of the peaceful mind is what we need to do and then just observe silently the inner world blossom, spreading its fragrance outside.

Amongst the yoga practices the most practiced one is asana. The health benefits of asanas are very well known, be it flexibility, strength or the soothing effects on mind. If we learn to look beyond… asanas release trapped energy improving our sense of well-being. Asanas give a firm foundation to psychological and spiritual growth. The movement to get into an asana, is the journey towards stillness. We learn to accept. And the breath awareness during asana elevates asana,… the physical posture to a higher level of experience.

Engaging the mind by breath awareness starts a positive creative process towards the meaningful progress. Pranayama takes us from gross to subtle. The mind calms down. Fine tunes our awareness on the journey inward. Peace becomes the natural state of mind.

It’s astounding how quickly your creativity unleashes itself in the fertile ground of a peaceful mind. The creative impulse seems to be activated as soon as there’s a little breathing space in your mind. Spring season strikes. Seemingly from out of nowhere, a spark of creativity is ignited and you have a vision, plus the optimism and enthusiasm, and even a sense of urgency, to bring it into being. Suddenly, you find yourself doing things which were found to be difficult earlier.

To tap into our potential, we simply need to make space for it. Too often the creative aspect of the Self gets hidden or pushed aside in the hustle and stress of everyday life. Whoever you are, whatever you are seeking, you rely on creativity to meet everyday challenges. And you thrive on its ability to fill your life with beauty, purpose, and meaning.

If we are in sync with the nature we may realize that our creativity as humans, our creative impulse is related to the evolutionary impulse of the universe.  There is vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action.

Creating authentic power is continual spring-cleaning. That power can be created by adopting yoga as the way of life. Awareness built by practicing asana, pranayama will bring forth what’s to be discarded…  the “unwanted” emotions, the destructive habits, behavior within us. All those unwanted things …waiting to be uprooted and thrown out. Giving way to the emergence of a new-self. The self which is ready to create the life that is calling you–a life of more joy and less pain, more freedom and less limitation, more love and less fear!

So, your spring is here…. Right on your yoga mat !

UPSIDE DOWN………………

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“−−On the first day he should remain [only] a little while in the headstand, with legs in the air. Increase the practice time a little each day. After six months gray hair and wrinkles disappear. He who practices three hours a day conquers death,” ….Hatha Pradipika claims. Is it tempting enough to bring inversion postures in our practice?  Unfortunately daily practice of three hours sounds a bit too difficult.  Lets keep aside the death conquer part, just tackling “gray hair” and “wrinkles” itself is good enough reason. Still not many students are willing to venture into this area of turning yourself upside down.

 

And what is so difficult about learning this? Purposely turning ourselves upside down is contrary to our human physical locomotion-nature. The transition from childhood to adulthood has taught us to be “upright”. We have forgotten the playful ways of experimenting. And probably it’s the fear in the mind which is restricting the body from turning upside down.

 

Just as yoga gently encourages us to move away from any unconscious habitual patterns, the invitation to invert is simply another way to step out of the comfort zone.

 

Inverted poses are an important group of asanas. Inverted asanas reverse the action of gravity on the body; instead of everything being pulled towards the feet, the orientation shifts towards the head. As you age, fat and skin sag, which physically and, perhaps emotionally, drags you down.

 

As gravity pulls your body down, tissues and fluids in your body pool towards the lower extremities — resulting, potentially, in varicose veins. Anatomist David Coulter, PhD explains in a Yoga Journal article that “when you turn upside down, the fluid in your lower body drains better to the veins and lymph vessels, helping to clear up congestion in all parts of your body. Blood goes quickly to the heart and circulation improves, which may help your body get rid of waste products more efficiently and enhance the flow of nutrients to working cells. Fluid and blood that tends to concentrate in the lower lungs due to gravity is distributed to the upper lungs during inversions and this may enhance the health of your lung tissue”

Continued practice of shoulder stand eradicates common colds and other nasal disturbances. Due to the soothing effect of the pose on the nerves, those suffering from irritation, shortness of temper, nervous breakdown and insomnia are relieved. The asana is recommended for urinary disorders and uterine displacement, menstrual trouble, and hernia. It also helps to relieve epilepsy, low vitality and anemia. It activates the abdominal organs and relieves people suffering from stomach and intestinal ulcers and severe pain in the abdomen.

By reversing the pull of gravity on the organs, especially the intestines, it helps to cleanse them and overcome problems of the liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines and reproductive system. Headstand increases gastric fire and produces heat in the body. When done properly, headstand helps the spine become properly aligned, improving posture, facilitating good breathing and reducing muscular stress. The weight of the abdominal organs on the diaphragm encourages deep breathing, which gently massages the internal organs. Sirsasana is used to treat asthma, hay fever, diabetes, headaches, anxiety and menopausal imbalance.

Inversions give you temporary relief from the pull of gravity. Similarly, on the emotional and psychic levels, inverted asanas turn everything upside down, throwing a new light on old patterns of behavior and being.

 

Inversion postures build the core strength as well as the strength of shoulders and arms—especially for women who tend to be stronger in the lower body, inversions create body balance by developing upper body strength.

Generally, these practices improve health, reduce anxiety and stress and increase self-confidence. They also increase mental power, concentration and stimulate the chakras. There are four major systems in the body that the practice of inversions positively influences: cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine. The circulatory system is comprised of the heart, the lungs, and the entire system of vessels that feed oxygen and collect carbon dioxide and other waste products from the cells. Arteries fan out in an intricate tributary system from the heart, which pumps freshly oxygenated blood from the lungs outward. Veins return blood to the heart, and, unlike arteries, make up a low-pressure system that depends on muscular movement or gravity to move blood along. One-way valves at regular intervals prevent backwash and keep fluids moving towards the heart in a system known as “venous return.”

The lymphatic system is a key player in keeping the body healthy. As lymph moves through the body it picks up toxins and bacteria to be eliminated by the lymph nodes. Because lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity, getting upside down allows lymph to more easily travel into the respiratory system where much of the toxins enter the body.

 

Shirshasana (Headstand) and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) are seductive poses—physically challenging, visually dramatic, and exhilarating. Like all things in life, the suggestion to get upside down should not be universally prescribed. Unfortunately, however, beginning and veteran yoga students are seen seeking help of medical professionals with compression of the upper spine and impaired mobility in the neck, presumably from the practice of inversions. This indicates some students are clearly flinging themselves into inversions too soon.

So, to Invert or not to invert? How, then, do we evaluate and approach inversions, poses that are said to be invaluable and that possess distinct physiological benefits?

 

If you are new to yoga, take your time before inverting—Self-study or swadhyaya plays an important role here as self-awareness makes our practice safe. Even if you are inverting consistently now, there will be times when the practice is inappropriate. We practice yoga to decrease suffering and develop our capacity to be fully present in our lives. Why persist in practicing Headstand and Shoulderstand if it causes you pain?

 

When we think of inversions the postures which come to the mind are, head stand, shoulder stand, hand stand or forearm stand. But any pose that has you put your head below your heart is classified as an inversion. So, the gentler options like Adhomukhshwanasan, Setubandhasana are safer to start with. While the intense inversions (handstand & headstand) energize, inversions of the cooling type (Downward facing dog and bridge pose) work to calm the nervous system, thereby activating the parasympathetic nervous system and producing feelings of balance and calm.

 

Work closely with an observant and knowledgeable teacher. Attend class regularly. Learn the fundamentals: Find the extension of the spine first, open the shoulders with and develop balance, clarity, and strength by practicing appropriate postures.Structure a yoga practice that is balanced and wise. Practicing alone will help you purge the urge to perform your asanas for others and cultivate a deeper understanding of your body and its rhythms so that you can practice in ways that respond to your needs. With mindfulness, even a beginner can practice inversions without injury.

 

If you already invert, ask yourself how you do it. Do you use muscle to stay up? How much do you observe yourself in the pose, focusing on your alignment? If you wish to work towards longer poses, by all means do so. But do so intelligently, and be willing to progress slowly if you want a healthy neck in your old age. Observe the subtle changes in your neck and throat, and watch your breath. Stay up for short periods of time first—a minute or two. Back up on occasion. Always come down if there is pain.

 

There are certain contraindications that should be observed so as not to cause or aggravate previous injuries or illnesses: un-medicated high blood pressure, some heart conditions, neck injuries, recent stroke, detached retina, glaucoma, and epilepsy are common issues that should be addressed before inverting. Talk with your doctor and teacher if you are unsure about your status. Additionally, women on their “ladies holiday” should indeed take a vacation from inversions.

BLOG CREDIT-SUJATA NERURKAR

PHOTO CREDITS-ANAHATA YOGA ZONE

YOGA FOR LOVE

 

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Well love is in the air………

And how does yoga fit in here…….It does,it fits in perfectly because yoga teaches you how to be in love with your own self and have a harmonious and loving relationship with others…..

READ ON……..

Most of us wish to maintain a healthy relationship with people around us so that we live in harmony. But learning how to stay happy in a relationship can be challenging at times. While not all relationships are meant to last, it is possible to avoid some of the common pitfalls that can throw any relationship off-track and cause unhappiness. Being happy in a relationship can take some work, but the results are well worth it.

Bringing mindfulness to your relationship allows you to work with the inevitable difficulties and disappointments that arise. As you bring mindfulness to your relationship, you begin to see that the mind endlessly grasps after things, clings to expectations. Love and affection are easily forgotten amidst such hindrances. The mind can so cling to images of how things are supposed to be, that “what is” is never explored as a chance for deepening love.

You can use mindfulness to stay present in a relationship and to acknowledge “what is” rather than what your ego wants to be true. Your practice can help you avoid defensiveness and getting caught in fear, and help you give up being controlled by your needs. When the partnership model fails, it is because one or both partners aren’t in touch with their own emotions or because of unrealistic expectations. The relationship deteriorates into dysfunctional cynicism, and bargaining takes over as both partners try to protect themselves.

Being more grounded in your spiritual practice provides the strength and awareness to cope with all of these problems. Worked with mindfully, relationships become a vessel to help you travel deeper into yourself and, in time, to become more self-contained and less fearful or needy. Bring awareness into the situation. Become the observer of your thoughts, your emotions, your needs, and your ego.

The most important relationship in your life: your relationship with yourself. Although loving yourself may sound like a simple matter, many of us often exhibit a lack of it. By embracing the 4 Immeasurable as discussed in Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras , we have a wonderful support system that encourages positive attitudes and behaviors to create a fufilling relationship towards self and others. These are maitrikarunamudita and upeksha: loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. Patanjali suggest that we cultivate friendship toward the happy, compassion toward the miserable, goodwill toward the virtuous and indifference toward those who are sinful.  They are a practical means by which the individual may step out of his narrow individuality to realise the larger oneness of life. It seems clear that Patanjali expects the practice of yoga to be carried far beyond the yoga mat. In the Yog Sutra‘s Chapter 1.33, Pantanjali gives us a four-part process to help us clear our hearts of negative energies in relationships.

maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatas citta prasadanam 

This statement by Patañjali shows us how we can eliminate our misconceptions by developing these traits in ourselves. On closer scrutiny, we see that these traits are also crucial for any successful relationship.

  • maitrī means loving acceptance of others. No human relationship is possible without this. If we manifest hate rather than love toward the other, the relationship will end. Instead of being jealous we should be happy for other people’s happiness. Rather than living with mental scarcity thinking one person’s happiness will cause us to run out of happiness we must appreciate their joy, realizing the potential for all of us to be happy at the same time. By cultivating friendship toward the happy we learn what it is to be happy and content with what is.
  • karuṇā means compassion. Compassion for those who are in pain, those that are suffering including yourself. The practice means no longer self-sabotaging oneself but instead learning how to self-comfort. It implies you see yourself as deserving of compassion. By cultivating compassion toward the miserable we can see our own miserableness.   This applies outwardly as well, that we cannot be selective to be compassionate but it is universal and unconditional.
  • mudita means joy. It’s enjoyable to spend time with people who exhibit these traits. Respect, admiration and honor for those who embody noble qualities. In practice this means eliminating envy towards those that are living honorable lives. We must genuinely celebrate their achievements. This reminds us that we can be inspired by others greatness to then be inspiring.  We all have innate greatness. Practicing goodwill toward the virtuous can help us to overcome our natural tendency toward jealousy.
  • upekṣa means equanimity. In any relationship you’re bound to notice a trait in the other person that’s not to your liking. Neutrality comes in handy in such situations. Equanimity towards those who hurt us. Peacefulness towards those whose actions oppose our values.  Instead of choosing the “like” button or even the “dislike” button choose neutral. There will be some people that purposefully will try to harm you or people you love. Your choice is not to engage them in a fight. You can simply stop struggling. This is where the idea of “would you rather be right or be happy” comes from. Indifference toward the sinful keeps us from judging and hating others.

These four basic traits nurture each other, which mean that developing one helps to develop all the others.

Patanjali considers relationships important and relevant to spiritual evolution.  So, he gives us the guideline to nurture our attitude towards others to have a harmonious state of mind in all our relationships.

Let’s be honest, being human guarantees that we will all be hurt in relationship, however, we must also do the work to heal in relationship.

 

Love yourself to love your life!

 

By-SUJATA NERURKAR

 

 

DETOX WITH YOGA

DETOX WITH THESE VERY SIMPLE YOGA ASANAS!!

 

Do you want to start your new year with a clean slate?

People love to start each New Year with something new. If you are looking to kick off 2014 on a healthy, fresh, positive note, try yoga. Yoga helps you to remain in the present, moving forward, never looking back.

The right yoga routine can also help you detox your body and mind.

 

How detoxification works

There are three main systems of the body that play a crucial role in the elimination of wastes —

  1. Circulatory system: pumps blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen to and carrying waste products away from cells.
  2. Digestive system: processes the food we eat, separating nutrients from waste and eliminating anything the body doesn’t need.
  3. Lymphatic system: collects intracellular fluid from throughout the body and transports it to the lymph nodes where anything harmful (such as bacteria or other contaminants) can be removed before the lymphatic fluid is returned to the bloodstream.

It’s a robust system that works well on its own. But to cope with the heavy demands, thanks to the modern lifestyle (increased stress levels, poor diet, increased pollution etc.) we need something else to be part of our lifestyle. Most forms of vigorous exercise stimulate all three systems of elimination to some extent, thereby helping the body in its quest to cleanse and detox. But yoga’s inside out approach gives it an extra edge.

How yoga facilitates detoxification

  • Focus on systematically stretching and compressing every part of the body, is particularly well-suited to keeping the waste-removal departments of the body functioning well. This facilitates the removal of waste products such as carbon dioxide, lactic acid and lymphatic fluid from the deep tissues and extremities of the body that other forms of exercise just don’t reach.
  • Yogic breathing also plays an important role in promoting detoxification. Sitting with poor posture obstructs the lungs from inflating fully, and our chronic state of low-grade stress often leads to a clenched diaphragm. As a result, we don’t take in as much life-sustaining oxygen when we inhale, or expel as much of the potentially hazardous carbon dioxide when we exhale.
  • Yogic breathing helps clear out carbon dioxide from the lung tissue, stimulates the organs of digestion and can, over time, retrain the diaphragm to move freely. And when the diaphragm moves with its natural fluidity, the abdominal organs are massaged and the lungs are fully emptied with every breath — not just the ones you take on the yoga mat.

Clear mind, clear body

In addition to its physical benefits, yoga aids in mental detox as well.

  • Slowing Down: Reducing stress and mental over-activity is perhaps the most important element of a successful detox plan. Habitual rushing, multitasking, and dealing with information overloads are the main reasons of toxicity. And like an overtaxed liver, an overtaxed mind and nervous system can lead to a host of health issues, including adrenal fatigue, insomnia, irregular menstrual cycles, indigestion, and unwelcome weight gain.
  • Inward focus of  Yoga practice teaches us how to say “no” to the outside influences that pull your attention and energy in so many directions—and replacing them with healthier choices—you’ll begin to tune in to your body’s natural rhythms and detox more effectively.
  • Heightened awareness of a yoga practitioner helps purge toxic thoughts by teaching you to move your awareness away from the chaos of the mind and back to the present moment.

Yoga poses to detoxify the body

Specific yoga pose/practices can help expedite the detoxification process. The heating and twisting sequence designed for this plan can help move toxins from your tissues through your lymphatic and digestive systems so that they can be eliminated from the body.

 

Kapalbhati

Easily the best practice to cleanse your lungs off the residual carbon dioxide. This could also be your start up practices as it exercises abdomen muscles and massages inner organs.

 

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Twisting postures : Squeeze the abdominal organs and stimulates digestion and elimination.

  • Marichiyasana 3 (Marichi’s Twist)  :

Sit up tall with your legs straight. Bend your right knee and bring the sole of your right foot to the floor just in front of your right sitting bone. Rest your right hand on the floor behind your back for support.

Reach your left hand up so strongly that your ribcage lifts up. Rotate your torso to the right and bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Stay for 5 deep breaths, gradually and gently using the sensation of your left elbow pressing into to your right leg to encourage your torso to twist further to the right.

Either look behind you, over your right shoulder or straight ahead, depending on what feels best to your neck. Repeat on the other side.

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  • Supine Twist:

Lie on the ground, hug right knee into chest, “T” arms out to either side, and allow right knee to fall to the left.

You can stay with a neutral neck or, if it feels good, look to the right.

You can also take left hand to right thigh to allow its weight to ground right leg.

Stay here for at least 5 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

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Downward Dog

Getting the heart higher than the head reverses the pull of gravity and aids in the circulation of blood and lymph. Also gently tones the abdomen, which stimulates digestion.

Start on your hands and knees with the entire surface of your palms pressing into the floor and your toes tucked under. Slowly lift the knees and straighten the legs. Press equally into the hands and feet and lift your sitting bones up as you move the thighs back. Allow the head to hang. Stay for 5–10 deep breaths.

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Legs Up the Wall

Bathes the abdomen in fresh blood and stimulates the digestive organs. Soothes the nervous system.

Sit in front of a wall with your right hip and shoulder touching the wall. Bend your knees and roll onto your left side, so your feet and seat are touching the wall. Roll onto your back and extend your legs so that they rest on the wall. Either rest your hands on your belly or let your arms lie on the floor, palms up. Stay for at least 10 deep breaths.

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Do these poses in order any time you feel like you need a cleansing. As you do these moves, use each inhale to lengthen and each exhale to wring yourself out like a sponge, getting rid of anything you no longer want or need. One must practice on an empty stomach.

 

By-SUJATA NERURKAR

 

GET THE GLOW WITH YOGA……….

What’s In a Face?

 

Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. Appearance predicts behavior in surprising ways—some of the time. “I am a big believer in the fact that if you focus on good skin care, you really won’t need a lot of makeup” a quote by the beautiful Demi moore. It’s easy to spot a yoga practitioner. If there’s one thing seasoned yoga practitioners are known for it’s great skin.

 

What’s a great skin? A mirror of great health! A healthy skin is smooth, soft, evenly toned and appropriate for natural aging. It makes sense, right? And what’s most important is that these external factors symbolize that your skin is functioning properly in that it protects your body from the sometimes unkind effects of the environment, prevents harmful germs and bacteria from penetrating your body, and preserves the skin’s natural waterproof property.

Ever wonder why yoga instructors always have a natural glow to their faces, and their skin seems so relaxed? Is it the deep, restorative breaths and meditative state that keep wrinkles at bay, or is it the focused flows of movement that increase circulation or is it the yog nidra, the deep relaxation? Well, it is known that practicing yoga can reduce the signs of aging and give your skin a natural, clear and beautiful glow.

 

  • Yoga postures increase circulation in your body, which helps to smooth your skin.
  • Inversions are especially wonderful, as being upside down sends blood to your brain, which nourishes your face with vital nutrients at the cellular level.
  • Yoga postures also help to balance your chakras, which stimulate your hormonal systems that are responsible for slowing down the aging process.
  • Yoga in general improves the skin by reducing stress (a common catalyst to breakouts and fine lines) and removing toxins from the body.
  • Yoga practise balances your hormones and boosts the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your skin. This naturally keeps your skin resilient and prevents dryness as well as excessive sagging.
  • Yoga tones the muscles of your face and neck.

Though certain practices like Surya Namaskar, forward bending postures like uttanasan or adhomukh shwanasan, or inversions and seated twisting postures are especially beneficial for the skin regular yoga practice is what it takes to get that healthy glow.

 

So here we go for a practice which will help flush out the entire toxin content from our internal organs.

 

Kapalbhati: 

 

This has been practiced by yog gurus and saints for ages and has been referred to as the sanjeevani medicine because of its multilevel benefits. It clears your body of all toxins leaving you feeling fresh and rejuvenated. Kapalbhati infuses a new life into you.

Kapalbhati literally is ‘that which shines or brings a glow to the forehead – kapaal’. In Sanskrit, ‘kapaal’ means ‘skull’ or ‘forehead’, and ‘bhati’ means ‘luminous’ and ‘perception’. Kapalbhati is the practice that brings a state of luminousness, or clarity in the mind as well as the body by

–          cleansing the nasal passageway and the sinuses

–          removing carbondioxide gas which is toxic to body and mind

–          supplying the brain with fresh oxygen rich blood

It is essentially a voluntary abdominal breathing practice with focus on forceful exhalations. In normal breathing inhalation is active but exhalation is passive. In Kapalabhati, exhalation is active while inhalation is passive. It is done in quick succession with the help of the abdominal muscles, while the chest is more or less quiet and unmoved. The abdominal muscles are made to contract actively with force, so that the forceful upward movement of the diaphragm expels the air out. The diaphragm then descends easily, creating a slight reduction in the pressure in the lungs, and the atmospheric air rushes in.

Kapalbhati is a rapid diaphragmatic breathing that cleanses and energises. It is the kriya that cleanses the respiratory tract and destroy all mucous disorders. Broadly speaking, it stimulates an all-round activity in the body. It expels the stagnant air in the lower lobes of the lungs, (which remains there due to shallow breathing). It also clears out the air passage, the lungs and the nostrils.

With the practice of Kapalbhati the lungs are cleansed of carbon dioxide – the toxic end product of metabolism. Kapalbhati not only cleanses the lungs, but also rids the tissues and blood of toxic waste products, most of which ultimately get converted to carbon dioxide. This brings a sense of lightness to the body and alertness in the mind. The practice brings a glow to the crown and lightness to the brain; hence the name Kapalbhati.

Technique

–          Sit in a comfortable pose with an erect spine, and maintain its natural curve. The position must be such that the belly muscles are relaxed and able to move freely and actively, keeping the body steady and comfortable.

–          Place your palms on the thighs or knees. This helps lift the spine and pushes the shoulders back.

–          Relax the nose and soften the face with a gentle smile.

–          Begin with a chest-expanding inhalation and maintaining it, start the practice. Use your stomach muscles to perform active forceful exhalations, followed by passive soundless inhalations.  All breathing is done through the nose.

–          During exhalation propel out the air through a strong flapping movement of the abdomen in an upward direction. At the end of each exhalation allow the abdominal muscles to relax as the inhalations happen passively, recoiling from the force of exhalation. Inhalation is smooth and effortless and prepares the practitioner for the next thrust of the abdomen.

–          A correct practice of Kapalabhati produces a crisp sound as one exhales out without any facial contortions. The sound is produced by the volume of air being pushed up by the forceful action of the diaphragm and not the muscles of the chest, shoulders, neck or the face.

–          To start with do 10-20 expulsions per round, resting between the rounds. One can increase the speed gradually and the number of expulsions to about 60 per round With regular and sustained practice, one can achieve a speed of 100-120 strokes per minute. It is vital not to sacrifice the force of the abdominal contraction to achieve a greater speed.

–          Exhalations should be regular and consistent like the ticking of the clock. Jerky and erratic breaths will lead to air hunger in the form of gasping for breath intermittently. The rhythm should be slow and steady initially, allowing enough time for spontaneous inhalations to occur.

–          At the end of one round, take a short rest. Sit very still and observe the body and mind and experience the feeling of peace. There will be an automatic suspension of breathing. This is called Kewala Kumbhaka. The urge to breathe stops for a few seconds. Simultaneously the mind experiences a deep state of stillness, silence, calm and peace. Enjoy this state of deep rest and freshness.

–          Wait until the breath automatically resumes and then go on to the next round.

–          How much to practice – If you feel fatigued, dizzy or experience discomfort in the abdomen or the back during the practice, slow down or stop for a while. Stay within your capacity as it is not a competitive activity.

 

Its better done early in the morning with an empty stomach. Pregnant women and high blood pressure patients should not do the practice without consultation.

And so let’s usher in the festive season and the NEW YEAR with a little yoga…..what say folks????

BY

SUJATA NERURKAR

JALNETI…nasal irrigation

Jalneti : yogic way of preventing and dealing with common cold

Colds are considered to be the immune system’s response to viral invasion. Colds are contagious and may be passed on through hand contact or inhaling airborne particles released by someone when they cough or sneeze.

Since most Cold virus survive better in low humidity, Colds is more prevalent in Cold months of winter and fall. The Cold temperature during these seasons can also make the nasal passages’ lining drier thus making it more susceptible to viral infection.

Researches also show that psychological and emotional stress, allergic disorders affect the nasal passages or the throat. The menstrual cycle also have an impact on a person’s susceptibility to Colds.

The strength of a person’s immune system plays an important part in the prevention of Colds. Yogis for centuries have claimed by treating the nose, diseases of the eyes, ears, sinus, throat, and head can be strongly and positively affected.

The nose is the “air conditioner” of the body. One of the many functions of the nose is to regulate the temperature and humidity of the incoming air. In a normally functioning nose, the air is moistened, warmed, filtered, cleansed, smelled, and analyzed as it travels smoothly and otherwise relatively unimpeded to the very back of the two nasal passageways at the posterior nasal apertures. Regular practice of Jala Neti helps to establish the correct working environment of temperature and humidity in the nose.

Jal Neti is a nasal irrigation technique in yoga used to clean out the nasal cavity and make it free of mucus and debris. The jala neti history dates back many centuries and is an important part of the Shatkarmas, that is, the practices to purify the human body. Followers claim that Jalneti can rid the body of a variety of diseases and keep them at bay.  So, it’s wise to consider shedding your apprehension and trying this wonderful practice.

The Jal Neti procedure involves pouring lukewarm salt water into one nostril and bringing it out through the other nostril. Then the nostrils are alternated. The jal neti pot is important to be able to practice nasal cleansing. It is a small pot with a spout that fits inside the nostrils. It looks like a small teapot or a small hand garden sprinkler.

There are many Jala Neti instructions to be kept in mind, if one wants to perform this procedure correctly and to avoid uneasiness. To carry out the basic procedure,

  • Add about half a teaspoon of salt to a neti pot full of sterile lukewarm water.
  • Stand with the legs apart
  • Hold the neti pot in your right hand.
  • Insert the nozzle of the Neti pot into the right nostril.
  • Keep the mouth open and breathe freely through the mouth
  • Tilt the head first slightly backward, then forward and sideways to the left so that the water from the pot enters the right nostril and comes out through the left by gravity. Allow the flow till the pot is empty.
  • Repeat the same on the left side
  • To clear the same on the left side.
  • To clear the nasal passages of the remaining water, blow out the water by active exhalation through alternate nostrils as in Kapalabhati

before starting with jal neti, the stomach should be empty. After jala neti, drying the nose is crucial. If the nasal passages remain wet, you experience cold-like symptoms for a long time and the residual dirty water in the passages can also give rise to infection.

caution :

If the water temperature is too cold, it will contribute to congestion as the tissues in the nose swell, but if it is too hot it will irritate the mucous membrane linings. Thus the best temperature is between 70-100 degrees F, the closer to body temperature the better.

In jalaneti, salt is also a key element. Only pure salt should be used to perform this cleansing technique.

Benefits:

Besides being used to treat full-blown sinus infections, Jal Neti is perhaps the BEST preventive measure.

  • It helps to clear nasal passages. Removes cold, hypersensitivity, headache, sinusitis, bronchitis and stimulates olfactory nerves.
  • Jal Neti helps solve the sinus infection and allergy problems without the use of drugs with immediate, immense and sustained results any without any side effects.
  • At the immediate level, Jal Neti is a great tool for any kind of respiratory disorder – sinusitis, allergy, asthma, hay fever to name a few. People invariably notice an immediate relief, which drugs fail to achieve. It helps to re-program the body’s natural mechanisms against respiratory complaints including sore throats, coughs, post-nasal drips etc.
  • Jal Neti rinses out the dirt and bacteria filled mucous lining as the warm water loosens and dissolves any internal build-ups, and takes them outwards.
  • Jal Neti has a cooling and soothing effect on the brain and is therefore beneficial for headaches, migraine, depression, mental tensions and even hysteria and temper tantrums.
  • It stimulates better powers of visualization and concentration and gives a feeling of lightness and clarity to the mind.
  • It is excellent for those trying to give up smoking. It reduces mouth breathing and re-sensitizes the nose to the indecency and discomfort of ingesting smoke, therefore de-programming the brain of the physical and psychological addiction.
  • Practicing nasal cleansing clears the sinus cavities and in turn increases the body’s capacity to fight against nasal infections. Similarly, with jal neti, allergies such as hay fever can also be kept at bay. More so, jal neti makes the practitioner breathe more freely with the nose. Therefore, problems such as asthma and bronchitis are also reduced. Sore throats, coughs, tonsillitis can also be cured by performing jal neti regularly. It is beneficial for the eyes and ears.

Duration

The duration or the reiterations of the process cannot be stated. But the amount of water to be used can be stated. For one nostril, generally half a liter of water is to be used. The water should be used at a stretch or with some rests. Since this is a shuddhikriya, one should not include it in daily lifestyle.

Whenever, the nasal path needs cleaning, the process can be used. However, till the process is learnt thoroughly, it may be practiced daily. Once learnt, it should be used as per the need.

In jal neti side effects are almost inexistent.

People living in polluted cities should try and make it part of their everyday lifestyle.

This post has been written by Sujata Nerurkar – visiting faculty at Anahata Yoga Zone

JALNETI