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Basics of Hatha Yoga

No matter what your age, Yoga can help you realize your secret bodily desires be it energy, health, beauty, youthfulness or graceful bearing if you practice regularly and sensibly. There is no doubt that Yoga can work miracles. But the instrument through which wonders are worked is you. without your discipline, your faith in what you are doing and your persistence in doing it, there can be no results. There is a right and a wrong way of practicing Yoga and often a little variation will make all the difference. Try to come to the practice of Yoga with out preconceived notions of how to do the exercise. Read or listen to instructions fully and to the end. Too often people will listen half way, think they know what is going to be said next, and go ahead and do their own incomplete and /or incorrect effort.

Practice regularly, even if you have time for only a few exercises on some days Then, do only those that you know do you the most good. If you suffer from tension, do the Chest Expander; if your tummy is flabby, concentrate on the Pump, and so on. But make Yoga as much of your daily routine as eating and sleeping. The change in your health and outlook on life will make it worthwhile a hundred times over.

Never hurry.  Go into the postures slowly, taking 10 15 seconds to get from the beginning to the holding position. This gives bonus benefits and makes each exercise more effective. It also helps to cut down on the number of times an exercise has to be done.

hold each position €once you have gone as far into it as comfort permits. Muscles must receive sustained strain in order to stay in condition. As a beginner, hold each posture at its extremity for 5 seconds. Increase this time by 5 seconds a week as you improve. Through the holding position you are doing an exercise over and over as it were, and therefore an exercise need be done only three times, instead of twenty.

Come out of an exercise as slowly as you went into it. You lose at least a third of the value if you permit yourself to collapse, and you might even risk injury. 

Never force a position, never jerk or bounce in order to "go further". Go as far as you can, then hold it there. Pain is a danger signal devised by the body to stop immediately or risk injury. If, as in calisthenics, you are moving so fast that your momentum does not permit you to stop short, you can easily move past the danger signal and get hurt. This is what happens when you experience muscular soreness or muscle strain.

Never compare yourself to anyone else.  Yoga emphasizes "Personal Progress." by performing the exercise regularly you are bound to do better to say that you did yesterday. In going to the limit of your capability you receive the same benefits as your teacher who can stretch much further but who is also more flexible. In Yoga there is visible progress. You will find that after a time you can get into poses you would never have dreamed possible.

Concentrate intensely with each exercise you perform. It will follow naturally that you then do the exercise well. This is especially necessary in balancing exercises. Moving your head rapidly, or speaking or laughing embarrassedly when you do lose your balance will retard your progress and efficiency. Simply carry on where you left off with out a feeling of disgust or embarrassment at yourself. Then your concentration will remain unbroken and you can achieve much. visualizing encourages concentration which in turn promotes quality of action. For instance, pretend to be a fierce lion in the Lion or a pussy cat just up from her nap in the Cat Stretch. It will make exercising more fun for you too.

Rest between exercises.The beauty of Yoga lies in its gentleness. You need never experience draining fatigue or painful, sore muscles. Catch your breath, let the muscles rebound from a delightful stretch and permit the body to assimilate what it has learned.

Breathe normally during the holding position of an exercise. 
There is a tendency for most people to hold their breath while they desperately and tensely hold on. This is absolutely wrong. 
Yoga stresses relaxation, even while exercising. If at all possible, you should go as far into a pose as comfort permits, then relax there and breathe normally. As a student advances in proficiency there is a prescribed way of breathing with each exercise.

Always keep your body relaxed€ even at the apex of a position, except for those parts which are directly involved in the pose. 
For example, in the Cobra concentrate on the back and keep the buttocks and thighs relaxed. The effort you are making should never be mirrored in a distorted face.

The best time to exercise is either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. It depends on your particular need. In the morning the body is still stiff, but the exercises will help you to work better all day. In the evening the exercising comes more easily and refreshes and relaxes you for a good sleep.

A private, airy place where you can expect little interruption is best. For, the more you concentrate, the better you will do each exercise. A rug or a blanket folded in four will give you good protection from the hard floor without being too soft for efficient performance.

It is wise not to eat a heavy meal for at least 2 hours before exercising strenuously. It is permissible to take a light meal or a little liquid.

Always empty the bladder and move the bowels before the practice of Yoga. The Yoga postures are done more easily after a bath, especially if you are a tense or arthritic person. You will find that constipation is no longer a problem with regular practice, but since the upside down poses promote elimination, it is advisable to start your program with these.

Ladies, you may exercise during menstruation if you wish on a lighter scale than normal, however. Only practice the inverted postures such as the Shoulder stand, if no pains or changes in the amount of flow result. It is quite safe to practice Yoga during pregnancy for the first three months, or longer, but you should always check with your doctor first. There are special exercises to make the muscles of the back strong and elastic, to strengthen the floor of the pelvis, and to master deep breathing techniques as aids to labour.

People with High Blood Pressure, Dizziness or Detached Retina should always check with their doctor. They should not at first do any of the inverted postures such as the Shoulder Stand, but any of the forward bending poses are beneficial To experience a certain amount of dizziness in the beginning is quite normal, since the head usually gets little circulation. In the inverted postures there is a sudden onrush of blood dilating the blood vessels, and a slight headache or dizziness may result.

Even after a knee shaking Yoga work out, you will not suffer from muscular soreness if you follow the sensible rules laid out here. For maximum benefit with a minimum effort, please consider all these points every time you practice Yoga.


This page last updated: 02/27/2018

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