Yoga: Philosophy, Method And Types Of Asanas

The ancient Indian doctrine of Yoga has attained popularity all over the world. Although it was devised centuries ago, yoga become very relevant to our modern day lifestyle. Yoga means ‘union’ and signifies the union of body and mind. The ancient sages of India recognised that body and mind are not separate entities, but are interlinked and interdependent.

The entire philosophy of Yoga consists of eight different forms called “Ashtanga Yoga”. Of these, Hatha Yoga, which consist of physical exercise, ‘asanas’, have become popular even in west.

The ‘Asanas’ include a variety of poses that benefits the entire body. They are particularly beneficial for strengthening the body and the spine, making them flexible, supple and youthful. The asanas are combined with breathing exercise, thus improving oxygenation and purifying the organ system. Yoga is ideal for counteracting stress.

The advantage of adopting yoga as daily exercising programme is that it can be performed at one’s own pace. Even older people can learn and do exercise easily.

One of the important aspects of yoga is that each pose must be held for about 10 seconds. With regular practice, you can increase the time gradually, holding each for 20 seconds, as long as it is comfortable for you. No elaborate equipment is required for yoga. All you need is a mat.

Perform the exercise in front of an open window, or out door, if possible. Another important feature of yoga is that at the end of your session there will be no fatigue. Instead, you will feel very relaxed and experience a sense of well-being.

ASANAS

Ideally, you should learn yoga from a qualified person, in order to know the exact way of performing each asanas. However, some of them are easy to learn and can be taken up as daily programme.

Paschimottanasana:yoga
  • Sit on the ground, with legs stretched out.
  • Bending forwards, hold your toes with thumb, index and middle fingers.
  • Breath in, keeping legs stretched.
  • Then breath out slowly, and continue bending your body.
  • So that your forehead touches the knees.
  • If you find the exercise difficult, being by holding the toes only.
  • Then you will be able to complete the asana, after a few days of practice.
  • Hold the pose for 10 seconds and return to sitting position.
  • The duration of holding the position can be gradually increase.

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Uttanpadasana: yoga
  • Lie on your back.
  • Arms should be resting by your sides.
  • Legs should be stretched out straight, with feet touching.
  • Raise your legs slowly, without bending the knee, till your feet are about a foot above the ground.
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds, or as long as comfortable and the bring the legs slowly back to the ground.

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Bhujangasana: yoga
  • Lie on abdomen.
  • With palm resting on the floor and elbows bend, raise your head, shoulders, and chest.
  • You should be supporting yourself on the palm.
  • Hold the position and then slowly return to original position.

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Shalabhasana:
  • Lie on the abdomen.
  • With hands placed on the floor, as in Bhujangasana, raise head, neck and part of chest.
  • Then also raise both the legs, joint together.
  • The body supports to the part of chest and the abdomen.
  • Hold the pose and return slowly to the original position.

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Dhanurasana:
  • Lie on the abdomen.
  • Raise your legs and try to take hold of both the feet with hands.
  • The right foot with the right hand and the left foot with left hand.
  • Head should raise up with body. So, that the body is in the shape of bow.

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Vajrasana: yoga
  • Kneel on the floor.
  • The buttocks should be raise on the heels.
  • Back should be straight with hands resting on the thighs.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply.

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Shavasana:
  • Shavasana can be practice after each exercise, or it can do at the end of the schedule.
  • Lie on your back with the legs slightly apart and hands resting by your sides, palm facing upward.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply.
  • This asana brings about relaxation of entire body and mind.
PRANAYAMA

Yoga is ideal for inducing relaxation of both body and mind. Pranayama is a relaxation technique that had been advocated by the ancient sages of India. A system of controlled breathing exercises, pranayama can easily learn and practice daily as a method of conscious relaxation.

Pranayama is based on monitoring respiration. Normally, we are not even aware of breathing, because it is an involuntary activity. In pranayama, one has to conscious observe the inhaling and exhaling of breath.

The yogis advocate particular sitting postures, but you can incorporate pranayama by sitting in a position in which you are comfortable and relaxed.

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Breathing exercises:
  • Close one nostril with your thumb and exhale through the other. Close this nostril with ring finger and inhale with the other. Thus, you are exhaling through one nostril and inhaling through the other. Do this for 10 times. Next, alternate this by exhaling through the nostril which you used for inhaling.
  • Close the right nostril with your thumb and exhale with the left nostril. Close left nostril with right finger and inhale through the right nostril. Do this about 10 times. Next, close the left nostril and exhale through the right one and close the right nostril and inhale through the left one. Do this for 10 times.
  • Take a deep breath and exhale your breath forcefully, in short spurts, exhaling forcefully. Do this for 5 to 6 times.
  • Breath in slowly and deeply and exhale the air slowly. Consciously observe your process of breathing in and breathing out. In other words, you are concentrating on entire process. You will gradually find that your respiration becomes deeper and slower. As you take in more and more oxygen and expel more carbon dioxide, the mind becomes calmer and more relaxed. The respiratory process slows down.

Pranayama also helps to improve our powers of concentration. It is through their superior power of concentration that the sages practice the mediation.

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