Do you admire the visage staring back at you from the looking glass? Do you sense a yearning within to pause and take a serene respite? Have you ever ventured to a yoga studio where serenity reigns, breaths are deep and thoughts are calm? A flow that is gentle yet strong, slow yet powerful, sweet yet dynamic!
Yoga is a harmonious blend of strength and gentleness, power and slowness, dynamic energy and sweetness. By practicing yoga, you can bring balance and equanimity to your life, which is crucial for success. In today’s fast-paced world, where hyper vigilance and alertness are taking a toll on our mental and physical health, yoga provides a much-needed break. The daily overloaded dose of mundane life is consuming our health away. It is definitely threatening our sustainability. Yoga not only helps to calm your mind and bring a sense of peace, but it also strengthens and tones your body, giving you a sleek and defined appearance and the appreciation and gratitude that we need to live a healthy and robust life.
I refer to my yoga mat as “my Magic Carpet” because it transports me to a state of peaceful escape. Our body image and self-esteem are interlinked, particularly in today’s society where appearances are highly scrutinized and judged on social media. The endless pursuit of wants and expectations puts us under excessive stress to ‘do more’ and ‘be more’. Yoga helps bridge this gap by promoting the idea that the aim of yoga is not perfection, but rather seeking joy through the practice of ‘joy over perfection’ as I like to phrase it. The focus is not on achieving a flawless headstand or handstand to flaunt on Instagram, but on appreciating the journey and relishing in the efforts that go into practicing yoga. Yoga promotes self-acceptance and body positivity as its philosophy is centered on acceptance, gratitude, and being present in the moment.
The connection between our emotions and the outcomes we achieve is indispensable, as our emotions largely dictate our focus and determination. A positive and balanced state of mind is essential for maximizing our performance, while negative emotions can hold us back. Yoga provides a holistic approach to manage stress and emotions, helping us to cultivate a positive and centered mindset. Meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises can aid in acceptance of failures and unmet desires, as ignoring them can lead to the aggravation of the ongoing inner turmoil.
Sun Salutation, a yoga exercise, has several variations but we will discuss the most basic version here. Sun salutation is a rhythmic yoga flow or sequence of poses which is believed to be a basic yoga warm up, preparing the body gently to be more flexible for the advanced yoga poses. The sun salutation is recommended to be practiced on an empty stomach, early morning as the sun rises. It is comprised of different poses that are done in a flow and you keep on repeating according to your stamina and capacity.
The first step is the Prayer Pose, where you concentrate on your deep breathing. To start, inhale deeply and stretch both arms and hands out wide, then bring your hands together in front of your chest as if in prayer, exhaling to purify your chest, mind, and soul. This should be a mindful practice that brings peace and happiness to the heart. I suggest taking a few deep breaths with focused attention.
The next step is the Mountain Pose, where you stand on the tips of your toes to extend the spine upward and create more room. This opens up and releases tension in the nerves, providing relief for the spine. As you inhale and reach upward, standing on your toes, you direct your focus towards the solar energy and allow it to heal your through absorption. Some yogis also incorporate a slight backward bend.
The fourth step involves the Forward Fold. It begins with inhaling deeply and bending forward, reaching your hands towards your toes, allowing your nose to touch your knees. If need be, you can slightly bend your knees to make the position more comfortable and reduce any strain on the joints.
The next pose is the Half Forward Fold. To do this, exhale and bend forward from the waist, maintaining a straight spine and lengthening it. Place both hands on your shins and take a moment to exhale and elongate the spine. This is highly beneficial for the back and can be practiced in the office, at home, or any place where you feel the need to soothe your spine. Ensure that your head is aligned with your spine.
The fifth step is to start walking your hands forward on the mat and coming into a high plank position while exhaling. Make sure your body is aligned and stay in a diagonal line from head to heels. Now lower your chest down, keeping arms directly under the shoulders while pushing your chest forward and perform a powerful Chatrunga Push–up. I strongly suggest seeking guidance from a qualified yoga teacher as it is important to build the necessary stamina and strength to perform the technique in a correct manner. Many women struggle with developing adequate upper body strength for proper push–up execution.
The sixth step involves keeping your pelvis on the mat and lifting your heart up. Place both hands beside you, with straight arms and elbows. This is known as the Cobra Pose and is highly beneficial for strengthening the spine. Physiotherapists often recommend it to patients with back pain, but it is crucial to maintain proper form.
The seventh step is the Downward Dog pose. Ensure that your heels are firmly rooted on the ground, and lift your hip bones towards the ceiling, forming an inverted V shape. Hold the Downward Dog position for five deep breaths. In the next step, as a wind down, move into a Half Forward Fold position. As you exhale, stretch your spine to its full length. Follow this by performing a full Forward Fold by bringing your nose as close to your knees as possible. Remember, the focus should be on enjoying the practice rather than achieving perfection. Lastly, move into the Mountain Pose. I prefer to do it on my toes, reaching up and taking deep breaths.
The next step is to exhale, bringing hands into the prayer pose – hands to heart, exhale. Deepen your breathing with this holistic sequence. Begin by completing five rounds of Sun Salutations, synchronizing each pose with your breath. As you build endurance, you can increase the number of repetitions and incorporate additional poses into your flow. Keep breathing and be very grateful for each breath. HH
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