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Mobilizing The Body With Simple Asanas

To maintain a healthy body, a good Yoga program is essential. There are six basic movements that a body should perform in order to maintain good health. These are traction or stretching, twisting or squeezing, lateral stretching, bending forward, bending backwards and inversion. Let’s see our daily lifestyle. We wake up in the morning, we do our chores and we sit down. Whether we sit on the bed, on a sofa, in our car or go to the office and sit in our office chair, the body is in a bent position. It is actually folded forward. It means that we are not using the full movement of our body in our day-to-day activities.

OUR NORMAL HOUSEHOLD EXERCISES
Opening the cupboard & getting out things. If there is something on the top shelf, maybe we stretch a bit more. If a child pulls on our trouser leg, then we may twist and look back. If something falls from our hand, we bend forward to pick it up. This is the extent of our physical movements in a normal daily situation. There are bound to be blockages in our energy channels. Where there are blockages, there is going to be suffering: aches, pains, hardening of the muscles and stiffening of the joints.

MOBILIZING THE BODY WITH SIMPLE ASANAS
Following Asanas can help loosen up the body.

• TADASANA (THE PALM TREE POSE)
Tadasana involves stretching or traction. In this Asana the entire body is pulled upward and each joint is expanded from the toes right to the tip of the hands.

HOW TO DO
Stand straight with feet together, arms by the sides. Inhaling, stretch the arms up over the head & slowly rise up on your toes, stretching and lengthening the abdominal area. Hold the position for a few seconds. Exhaling, bring the heels down on the floor and hands on top of the head. This is one round. You can repeat 7-10 times

• TIRYAKA TADASANA (THE SWAYING PALM TREE POSE)
The Tiryaka Tadasana is a lateral stretch. It stimulates the lesser used muscles of the body by stretching the side muscles. There is a complete stretch from the legs right up to the arms.

HOW TO DO
Stand straight with feet about two feet apart. Breathe in deeply and raise both the hands over the head. Interlock your fingers, palms are facing towards the sky. Inhale, extend the spine. While exhaling, bend the body to the right from the waist as much as possible. Hold the position for a few seconds. Inhale and slowly come back to the upright position. Similarly repeat the process on the left side. You can repeat 7-10 times each side.

• KATI CHAKRASANA (WAIST ROTATING POSE)
Kati Chakrasana is a twisting exercise which removes stagnant blood located in the different areas of the body and encourages a fresh flow.

HOW TO DO
Stand straight with feet about two feet apart and the arms by the sides. Inhale as you raise your arms level to shoulders. Keeping the feet flat on the floor, exhale as you twist the upper body to the right side, wrapping the right arm behind the waist and the left hand onto the right shoulder. Turn the head fully to the right to look behind towards the left heel. Hold the position for a few seconds. Inhale and return to the starting position. Similarly repeat the process on the left side. You can repeat 7-10 times each side.

• SURYANAMASKARA (SALUTE TO THE SUN)
Another practice which combines forward and backward movements is Surya Namaskara. Following are the 12 positions of Sun Salutation

HOW TO DO

Position of Readiness:
Stand erect near the edge of the mat. Then take measurement with the foot & go one foot behind, keep both the feet together, weight evenly distributed, legs straight, arms are by your sides, fingers together. Now start.

1. Namaskarasana (Prayer Pose)
Bring your hands into prayer position in the middle of your chest where heart is located. Let the breathing be normal.

2. Hastottanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
Inhaling, extend your arms out in front of you with palms together, then stretch them above the head. When both arms reach near both ears on the sides of the head, arch back from the waist as far as you can, legs straight. By the time you have stretched your arm, you should go on inhaling the breath. Do not bend the arms from the elbows.

(Do not bend the head on the backward side before both the hands are positioned on the side of the head. This is because the centre of the body is situated in the head. If head bends towards the back earlier, the centre will go eccentric and there are chances of getting toppled over. Hence, understand the instructions carefully and bend the head only when it is in the centre of both the hands).

3. Hastapadasana (Hand to Foot Pose)
From arching position come back to straight position with both the hands remaining above the head in Namaskara position. Now while exhaling, extend your arms out in front of you, as you bend forward at the waist with your head & go on releasing the breath. Once you reach down, separate the hands, place them down on the floor on both the sides of the feet, fingertips in line with the toes. By the time your hands touch the ground, you should complete exhaling. Knees should remain straight & try to touch the forehead with the knees. If you are not that flexible, then just do the best you can.

(This type of position is not easily possible in the beginning. Do not get disheartened. Bend your knees if necessary. Make efforts but do not overstrain. Try to perform the pose as accurately as possible).

4. Ashwasanchalanasana (Lunge / Equestrian pose)
Inhaling, move the right leg away from the body in a wide backward step. Let the right knee touch the ground. The toes of right leg should be touching the ground, heel should be on top. Left knee should come near the chest, and should be between the two hands and pointing upward. Now breathe in. Look up and arch back by lifting your chin up.

5. Dandasana (Plank Pose)
Holding the breath in, bring the other leg back and put it alongside the right leg. Both the knees should be straight, up & off the floor. Back should also be straight. The weight of the whole body will be supported on both the hands and the toes of the feet. The whole body should remain in one line parallel to the floor and look at the floor about six to eight inches beyond your hands as you are in push-up position.

6. Sashtanga Namaskara Asana (Salute with Eight Parts)
Exhaling, drop your knees, place your chest on the floor between your hands, hips are slightly off the floor, forehead or chin on the floor, whichever is most comfortable; elbows should be pointing upward and close to the body, toes are curled inward.

7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
(Now lower your hips to the floor; the body position is absolutely straight & flat on the floor. If your hands are not under the chest, adjust them & keep them directly under the chest, keep the elbows half bent & closer to the body. Palms should be resting fully on the ground, feet together & toes curled under).

Breathe in deeply. Push your chest forward and up, raising your head up and back. Shoulders are down and back, away from your ears (try to get your shoulder blades to touch each other). Do not straighten the arms.

8. Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)
Exhaling, push up into an inverted "V" position, raising the knees, back, buttocks and chest, without moving your hands or feet, curl your toes under toward your head. Push the body little more backwards and up and try to get the heels closer to the floor while bringing your head closer to the floor. Share your weight on the palms of both the hands and on the toes of the feet.

Hereafter numbers 9, 10, 11 and 12 Asanas are repetition of Asanas Nos. 4, 3, 2, and 1 respectively.

9. Ashvasanchalanasana (Lunge / Equestrian pose)
(Remember the leg, which was drawn backward in the 4th position. Yes, that was the right leg. Allow right leg to remain straight backward).
Inhaling, take a wide forward step bring the left leg in between both the hands while placing the right knee on the floor, toes inward. Look up and arch back.

10. Hastapadasana (Hand to Foot Pose)
Exhaling, bring the right foot forward in line with the left foot and bend down from the waist. Knees should remain straight. Both the hands should be on both the sides of the feet as in position3.Try to bring the forehead closer to knees without excess strain.

11. Hastottanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
(Now here without changing the position, first bring both hands together in prayer position, head lying in between the arms).

Keeping your arms by your ears, inhaling, come up while extending your arms forward, up, over your head then arch back slowly with feet together from the waist, as in position 2.

(Initially assume standing position with head and legs in a straight line and then bend with the hands and head behind ensuring that knees and elbows do not bend).

12. Namaskarasana (Prayer Pose)
Exhaling, stand straight & bring your arms down in front of your chest in prayer position as in position 1 then down to your sides as you return to your original upright position, Mountain Pose.

This constitutes one Surya Namaskara. One round of Surya Namaskara consists of two sequences, the first leading with the right leg (in position 4) and the second leading with the left leg. With each Surya Namaskara keep alternating your legs.

GUIDELINES
• Keep your hands in one place from positions 3 to 10 and try to co-ordinate your movements with your breathing.
• Start by practicing four rounds and gradually build up to twelve rounds. You will experience a rapid heart beat, increased pulse, and your muscles will be infused with oxygenated blood.
• Irrespective of the number of rounds you are performing, it is a must to do Shavasana after that.
• People with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary heart diseases, hernia or back problem should check with the doctor & practice Surya Namaskara with guidance from qualified & experienced yoga experts.

SHAVASNA
Lie down in relaxation (Corpse) position (Shavasana), legs three feet apart, arms away from the body six to eight inches, palms up, eyes are closed. Focus on your breath. After four or five deep Yogic breaths through the nostrils, your heart rate and pulse will return to normal.

• SIRSHASANA (THE HEADSTAND)
Sirshasana practice involves inversion of the body. But I would not recommend that all of you do it. However, you can definitely try Sarvangasana( The Shoulderstand), or Vipareet Karani Asana ( The Half Shoulderstand), under the guidance of a competent yoga teacher.

So these are a few simple, basic Asanas for the body, which remove blockages from the muscles, improve the circulation and movement of energy and provide flexibility.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna

Aum Shanti

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