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Concentration

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Spinal Twist in Ashwasanchalanasana

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Assume posture no. 3 of surya namaskar, ashwasanchalan. With the left leg in the front. Allow the back knee to rest on the floor. Take your right arm over the left knee so that the armpit is resting over the knee. This will allow you to turn your upper body to face the left side. Join your hands to make a Namaste at the centre of your chest. Gaze at your left elbow. This is the final posture. Hold for as long as comfortable. Repeat on the other side.

Dancing Natrajasana

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Natraja is one of the names given to lord Shiva, when he appears as a cosmic dancer. Nata meaning "dancer", Raja meaning "king”. How to do Natrajasana? Stand erect with the feet together. Transfer weight to the left leg and bend the right leg to hold the big toe with right hand. As you bend the right knee swivel your shoulder to bring the elbow to face the ceiling, allowing the foot to come near the head. The other hand is stretched out forward, with fingers in jnana mudra. Gaze at the outstretched hand. Stay in this posture as long as comfortable. Come back to stand. Relax. Repeat on the other side. Benefits: This asana is great for strengthening back, shoulders, arms, hips and legs. And for developing a sense of balance, concentration and grace.

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

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Ardha Chandrasana can be performed on its own or as part of chandra namaskar, also known as salutations to the moon. The twelve positions of surya namaskar relate to the twelve solar phases of the year, the fourteen positions of chandra namaskar relate to the fourteen lunar phases, ardha chandrasana being the additional pose in the sequence. The mantra for ardha chandrasana is Om Vahnivasinyai Namaha, salutations to the one who resides in fire. How to do Ardha Chandrasana: - Begin in a lunge position, making sure that the knee is directly over the ankle and finger tips and toes are in one line.   - Tuck the back toes so the weight is on the ball of the foot. - Maintain balance here and raise the hands, stretching both arms over head. - Arch the back and look up, raising the chin. - There should be a gentle curve from the tips of the fingers to the tips of the toes, resembling  a crescent moon. - Hold the pose and breathe deeply. Lower the arms and place the hands on either side of the foot, change the legs and repeat on the other side. How it helps: Ardha chandrasana is great for opening up the shoulders and the hips. Its gives a stretch to the quadriceps and hip flexer as well as manipura chakra, stimulating digestive fire.

Bhramari Pranayam (bumble-bee breathing)

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Bhramari induces a meditative state by harmonizing the mind and directing the awareness inward. The vibration of the humming sound creates a soothing effect on the mind and nervous system. How to do it? 1. Sit in a comfortable meditative posture preferably padmasana with your hands in chin-mudra. 2. Close your eyes and relax the whole body. 3. Raise your arms sideways and bend your elbows to plug your ears with the index or middle finger or each hand. 4. Bring your awareness to the centre of the head ( where the ajna chakra is located ). 5. Inhale slowly through your nose. 6. Exhale slowly making a steady humming sound like that of a bee.     The humming should be smooth and continuous till the breath has been exhaled. 7. Bring your hands down and get back to chin-mudra. 8. Repeat this pranayama 3 times. Contra-indications:  People with heart disease must practice this without breath retention. Benefits:                       Relieves stress and cerebral tension                       Increases healing capacity of the body                       Strengthens and improves the voice.                       Reduces anger , anxiety and insomnia   - Ruchi Renavikar

Jala Neti (Shatkarma practice)

Traditionally, Hatha Yoga included only six internal cleansing yogic practices! They were known as Shatkarmas; literally the SIX PRACTICES; and their combined aim was to cleanse the body so that it was kept pure and efficient. (This was till around 500 years back - however in the modern Yoga context Hatha Yoga refers to an overall physical practice.) The YOGIS spent considerable amounts of time and focus to keep their bodies clean and pure. In fact no system in the world can rival the Yogi's understanding and maintenance of the internal body! Yogis understood that to go beyond the body; they needed to ensure that it was functioning at its optimum so that it would not cause any pain or discomfort - thereby not causing any disturbance to meditation. The 6 Shatkarma practices are: 1) Jala Neti & Sutra Neti to cleanse the Nose and Sinus tracts 2) Tratak - to cleanse the eyes and lachrymal glands 3) Vastra Dhauti and Kunjal Kriya - to cleanse the alimentary canal 4) Agnisaar Kriya and Nauli Kriya - to cleanse the intestines 5) Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana - to cleanse the colon 5) Basti - to cleanse the colon and excretory organs   JALA NETI - Nasal Cleansing Jala Neti is the most useful practice to cleanse the nasal passages and sinus tracts. It is fairly simple to perform and to practice it will only take a few minutes in the morning. It only looks difficult - but most yoga students are able to get it right the very first time. > Get a Jala Neti (pot with a nozzle) > Fill the pot with lukewarm water and mix a pinch of salt so that the water is slightly saline. [...]

Baka Dhyanasana (Patient crane pose)

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Baka Dhyanasana (Patient crane pose) I really enjoy this asana because you can track your progress very easily. At first it feels like you are going to face plant into the floor and end up with a black eye! If you are not comfortable lifting both feet right away, start with one and then the other. Eventually you will get to know how to shift your weight in order to find complete balance in this asana. How to do Baka Dhyanasana? – Squat on the floor with feet apart. – Balance on the toes and place the hands flat on the floor directly in front of the feet with the fingers pointing forward. The elbows should be slightly bent. – Lean forward and adjust the knees so that the inside of the knees touch the outside of the upper arms as near as possible to the armpits. […]

Garudasana (eagle pose)

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Begin in the standing position and fix your gaze at one point. This will help you to focus and stay balance throughout the asana practice. Bend the right leg and twist it around the left leg. The top of the right foot should rest on the calf muscle. Bend the elbows and bring them in front of the chest, wrapping the forearms around one another with the left elbow below (an anagram!) Place the palms together to resemble and eagles beak. Balance in this position for some time, Be sure to keep the knees bent and elbows lifted so they stay aligned with the shoulders. Release the arms and the legs and repeat on the other side. How it helps Garudasana is great for improving balance and focus. It helps to strengthen the legs and the ankles and loosens the joints of the shoulders and the muscles in the arms and the legs. It is a good stretch for the upper back. By Manish Pole and Catherine Juliano

Vrikshasana (Tree pose)

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How to do Vrikshasana Stand upright with feet together. Focus the gaze on a fixed point in front of the body. Bend the right leg, grasp the ankle and place the sole of the foot on the inside of the left thigh. The heel should be close to the perineum. When the body is balanced place the hands in front of the chest in prayer position. Balance on one leg for as long as is comfortable, don’t move your eyes from your point of focus! Release the hands and then the foot, slowly. Come back to the starting position and practice on the other side. How it helps It strengthens the foot, ankle and leg muscles. It a simple balance posture which can be used to improve the balance for everyday life and eventually, more difficult balancing asanas. It helps promote focus and concentration.