Yoga is not just about flexibility and a tight butt. It’s a holistic system that’ll help your mind too. Global guru B.K.S. IYENGAR and his disciple, RAJVI H. MEHTA, help us train our (feeble) limbs.
“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open,” says the guru of yoga gurus, B.K.S. Iyengar. Here are tips from people who took yoga to every tight-bodied Caucasian chick in the West.
Don’t Think Asana, Think Regularity
“The practice of asanas on a regular basis does improve flexibility. It is not the asana but how it is done that is more important,” Dr.Mehta says. So, mind the posture, will you? If you’ve started, build from 10 minutes a day.
“The practice of pranayama energises the body and removes fatigue,” says Dr. Mehta. Sit cross-legged with a straight back, use your thumb to shut one nostril and breathe in deeply through the other. Close this one and breathe out completely through the former. Done. Try it a few times for optimal effect.
Try the setu bandha sarvangasana (or the bridge) to open up your chest muscles and boost breathing. It’ll also solve basic upper respiratory problems.
“Asanas energise the body and bring clarity of the mind,” says Dr.Mehta. Try an inverted asana such as the dhanurasana (or bow), which relieves stress and strengthens the back. You’ll also boost balance, which means that sitting at your desk for 18 hours will no longer hurt you (it may break your spirit, but that’s expendable, isn’t it?).
Close Your Eyes
Most experts we spoke to believe meditation is experiential. “It is a state where one is totally absorbed. It happens,” explains Dr. Mehta. She advises that trying to “focus the mind or quieten the mind” will work best if your body is relaxed. So, try the shavasana, where you lie flat on your back and close your eyes. Try not to think. You’ll get the hang of it. (Also, try not to snore.)
Work The Stomach
“Asanas are not prescriptions but descriptions,” says Guru Iyengar. The meaning is deep and complete, but here’s what you need to understand: Use yoga without an ailment, because it’s just as effective. Also, even if you don’t watch what you’re shoving into your face, you can get some help from a couple of asanas. One is the supta padangusthasana (or reclining hand-to-toe). To do it, lie on the floor, legs extended. Support your head on a folded blanket. Exhale and bring your left knee towards your torso and press your right thigh to the floor. Inhale and slowly straighten the knee and extend your arms, keeping your shoulder blades apart and on the floor. Bring the straight left leg towards your head, keeping your big toe pointed. Hold for a few seconds and release as you exhale. Repeat with the other leg. Done. This asana aids digestion and backaches.
Don’t Over-Think It
Like meditation, most experts we spoke to believe yoga is experiential. Posture is supreme, so forget that you need a certain “number” of asanas. You only need a couple but you must do them correctly. The uttanasana (or forward bend) is a classic, as good for a warm-up as to give yourself a stretch. Another great pose is the paripurna navasana (or full boat), which powers up your core and back, as well as aids most urban stressors. Get that damn mat now.