Yoga is part of Indian Ayurveda established 5000 years back. ASANAS are yoga postures set out by the wise gurus in India thousands of years ago, by way of observing nature and the movements of animals. TODAY you can enjoy yoga asanas for flexibility EVERYWHERE, since there exist many yoga centres and provide classes worldwide. Besides, many workshops and retreats are continuously being organised.
What is an ASANA? | Explained by the Wise SADHGURU
This philosophy was back then spread throughout the world by great spiritual leaders, among who are; Swami Shivananda, Shri T.Krishnamacharya, Swami Kuvalayananda, Shri Yogendara, Swami Rama, Sri Aurobindo, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, Acharya Rajanish, Pattabhijois, BKS. Iyengar, Swami Satyananda Sarasvati.
Stretching, breathing and relaxation are of vital importance to give your body ease of movement and elasticity and to enhance your general health.
Apart from balancing your doshas (constitution) at a physical and emotional level, doing regular asanas will strengthen your tissues and enhance your energy levels.
Therefore , yoga postures are a great way to maintain a functional system and secure your good health.
Causes of Body Aches and Pains
Repeated bad posture causes pressure on joints and ligaments and by time the muscles contract, minimise the possibility of movement and then ailments start arising; you will get a stiff neck, tense shoulders, your lumbar and dorsal muscles feel painful, and you get throbbing headaches.
Does any of this ring a bell to you?
Improper breathing limits your oxygen intake. We already breathe environmental toxic gases and the way we breathe is incorrect. This is why you get shortness of breath, lower blood flow, feel weak and less alert and also get tired and stressed easily.
Stress and anxiety is part of our daily hectic lifestyle and when it accumulates over time then you will age faster. The function of the endocrine, the nervous and the immune system are highly affected by stress. Acute stress causes insomnia, depression and even Alzheimer and other ageing diseases.
Can Anyone Practice Yoga Asanas For Flexibility?
The beauty about yoga poses is that you do not have to make much effort. You can start with the basic postures and move along according to how your body responds to the exercise.
Besides, you can make use of yoga accessories to help yourself out when doing the postures.
If you make time to practice on a frequent basis; daily or at least 3-4 times a week, then you will see an improvement in your posture and flexibility straight away.
Moreover, once your body gets used to the stretching, automatically you will feel like extending the pose or moving to the next stage or to a more advanced pose to be able to reach further.
Ideally you get trained by a qualified instructor, especially until you learn the correct poses and philosophy behind Yoga and YOGA ASANAS.
Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation
This is a complete Yoga exercise, a series of yoga asanas, ideal for all levels and all ages. You can do it at a slow or fast pace as you prefer, for as long as you can endure.
Stand tall, breathe in and out a couple times before you start, then follow the steps in this video or chart below.
Important points: Do not make extra effort to reach the floor when you forward fold. If you reach only up to your knees it is good, if you reach to your shinbone it is also good, and if you can make it to your toes, that is great.
This flexibility has nothing to do with age really, as when doing this same posture, I cannot reach the floor myself, unless I practice many times, and my mum, who is now 80 years old, can reach the floor without any effort.
Another trick is to bend your knees a little if you are struggling to do the forward fold position.
It is considered EXCELLENT if you can do the Sun Salutation for 5-10 minutes per day. Studies show physiological benefits and progress in pulmonary function and respiratory pressures.
Variations According to Level of Flexibility and/or Experience with YOGA
By now I assume you wish to find out what ASANAS are like.
Check the below chart to find out more.
The above chart illustrates some of the most important postures and below is a classification from easy to more complex postures.
Corpse pose; lying down flat on your back, palms facing up and totally relaxed. Generally this is the starting and finishing pose in yoga and whenever you rest in between the practice of asanas.
Butterfly pose, sitting position with your knees bent and your feet tucked towards your groin, you can hold your feet with your hands and flap your legs up and down like a butterfly.
Happy baby pose, lying on your back, bring your knees to your chest and grap your feet with your hands, then open your legs wide while still holding your feet.
Warrior I, standing position, feet apart, turn sideways from the hips, one leg stretched back and the other one stretched forward with bent knee. lift up both hands to the sky and look up.
Tree pose, standing position, stand straight and tall, facing forward, then bring one leg up, bend your knee and touch your inner thigh with the sole of your foot. Then bring your palms together in front of your chest. Balance. A variation would be lifting both hands up over your head.
Squat pose, from standing position and feet apart, squat down as low as you can, bring your palms together and your elbows between your knees.
Down dog pose, from standing position, feet slightly apart, bend forward in an inverted V till you reach the floor. Keep your head aligned in between your stretched arms.
Cat-cow pose, on all fours, knees bent, curve your back up and head down, then alternate curve your back in and lift up your head.
Cobra pose, lying flat on your stomach, feet together, lift up your torso keeping your hip bone on the floor, palms on the ground, elbows bent and head up. Feel the stretch in your lumbar area.
Warrior II pose (triangle), as in warrior I above, but instead of lifting your hands up, stretch your arms sideways in opposite direction and turn your head in direction of your bent knee.
Shoulder stand pose, lying on your back, support your middle back with both your hands, and keeping feet together lift up both legs up putting all the weight on your shoulders. Keep supporting your back with our hands.
Plank pose, from lying flat on your stomach, lift yourself till a plank pose, resting your weight onto your hands and toes.
Seated twist pose, ONE OF MY FAV! from sitting posture, legs stretched, bend one knee and bring your leg over your other thigh, turn your torso sideways and look behind you whilst bringing your elbow over our knee. Also called half lord of the fishes pose.
Standard forward fold, Standing position, feet together, bend forward with your arms and head hanging down. Reach as far as you can.
Bridge pose, lying on your back, feet slightly apart, bend your knees, arms stretched to the sides, lift your back and bottom until you rest on your shoulders, bring your palms together for support.
Seated forward bend, sitting with legs stretched, bend forward and reach your knees, shin or feet, depending on your flexibility.
Plough pose, from the shoulder stand described above, continue bending and bringing both legs stretched over your face and head until you reach the floor and rest on your toes.
Bow pose, lying on your stomach, curve into a bow shape by lifting both your legs up and reach out with both your arms to grab your feet. You are resting on your hip-stomach area.
Head Stand pose, lift all your body weight onto your head and you can support your head with your hands.
Back bend pose, from lying on your back, lift yourself up onto your palms and feet and arch your back into an arch posture.
Warrior III pose, standing position, feet together, bend forward at right angle, stretch both arms in front of you in a straight line, and bring one leg up behind you.
Fish pose, lying on your back, legs stretched, feet together, arms at your side, curve your back inwards and rest on your head. Slide your palms under your buttocks.
Statistics and Yoga Practice
According to a survey carried out in 2017, one out of seven US adults practised yoga in those past 12 months, either for their well-being or to treat a health condition.
Statistics show that PRACTICING YOGA HELPED PEOPLE with;
- 86% reduced stress
- 59% improved sleep
- 67% felt better emotionally
International Yoga Day | To Enhance Public Health
From the year 2014, The United Nations announced that June 14 will be The International Day of YOGA, and since then every year many people congregate in public places to practice yoga together.
Mainly YOGA DAY is to raise awareness globally, of the importance of being physically active (since inactivity is in the top ten causes of death), and reduce diseases such as cancer and diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
The public yoga event is held in various cities around India and also other countries in Asia, as well as prominent places like Times Square.
It is one of my dreams to attend and participate at one of these big YOGA events one day, possibly in India. It will be mere-pleasure, to be able to see a huge number of people practising yoga collectively, and in a public place.
What´s Your Opinion on YOGA?
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193657/ A comparative study of slow and fast suryanamaskar on physiological function