Monday, September 8, 2008

The Begining of a Yoga Session

To ensure that maximum benefit is obtained from yoga, rest in the Corpse Pose for at least five minutes before proceeding with a session. In between asanas it is essential that you relax, breathing deeply, so that the Corpse Pose is also held for a short time between poses, until you regain normal breath and heartbeat rate. After relaxing in the Corpse Pose, sit in the Easy Pose, Sukhasana, for pranayama and the neck, shoulder and eye exercises.

Sukhasana (The Easy Pose): It is a simple cross-legged position, often adopted naturally when sitting on the floor. In yoga, it is one of the basic positions used during meditation, breathing, and warm-ups. Sitting on the floor, bend your knees and clasping your arms around them, press them to your chest to make the spine erect. Now, release your arms and cross your legs, letting your knees drop down toward the floor, keeping your head and body straight. Sit upright and keep your spine straight so that it gives your body firm support. Place your hands so that they rest on your knees.

This asana is one of the classic meditative poses that help to straighten the spine, slow the metabolism and still the mind. If you find that holding the pose is uncomfortable, place a folded blanket under the back of your buttocks. In order to stretch the leg muscles evenly, be sure to alternate which leg you place on top in the posture. When you are ready, substitute the Half Lotus or Lotus at this point.

Neck and Shoulders Exercises: Practise each set of neck rolls 3 times, returning your head to the centre between exercises. Sit in the Easy Pose. In the first exercise, bend your neck forward slowly, hold for a few moments, then bend it back. In the second, tilt your head right, hold, then tilt it left. In the third, look over your right shoulder, hold, then look over your left. Finally, rotate your head thrice clockwise and anticlockwise. Now, raise your right shoulder, then drop it down. Repeat with the left. Lastly, raise both shoulders at once, then drop them down again.

Repeating these exercises eases tension, increases flexibility and tones your muscles. Do them slowly and keep your spine straight, your neck relaxed and your shoulders facing forward,

Eye Exercises: Move only your eyes in these exercises, taking care to relax them in between.

To begin, look up and then look down.

Open your eyes wide. Look from right to left, then from left to right, and finish by looking diagonally.

Move your eyes in circles. Start slowly, and increase speed. Do this movement five times in each direction.

To end, always "palm" your eyes. Close your eyes. Rub your palms together vigorously until they feel warm. Now cup them over your closed eyes, without pressing, for 30 seconds. The heat and darkness soothe and relax your eyes.
These exercises will strengthen your eye muscles, and help to prevent eyestrain and improve eyesight. Breathe normally while you are practising them.

Simhasana (The Lion Pose): Sit on your heels. Place your hands palms down on your knees, fingers splayed, and inhale through your nose. Now lean slightly forward and exhale forcefully through your mouth, making an "aaah" sound. At the same time, stretch your tongue out and down, stretch out your fingers and look up. Hold the pose for as long as you can, then close your mouth and inhale through the nose.

In Simhasana, circulation to the tongue and throat is increased, the voice is improved, and the face and throat muscles are made stronger. The asana also stimulates the eyes. Repeat four to six times.

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