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corona virus

Lifestyle Yoga

The Sarvangasana Cycle

March 24, 2020

It is one of the greatest boons conferred on humanity by our ancient sages.  (Light on Yoga p 212)

Sarvangasana variations comprise the ‘Sarvangasana cycle’. The immunity sequence comprises of :

  • Eka Pada Sarvangasana :  In this variation (shown on the left), one leg is brought down to rest on the floor similar to Halasana.  The other leg should be absolutely straight.  This posture draws upon the the flexibility of the hamstrings and the strength of the quadriceps muscles too.
  • Parsvaika Pada Sarvangasana : In this variation (shown on the right), one leg is brought down to the side of the body, diagonal from the trunk.  As with all Sarvangasana variations, this requires control and strength of the core muscles, but this variation also requires an flexible hip joint.

We perform these variations to gain more control over our bodies.  They require us to use more of our core strength, or cultivate the necessary core strength.  All Sarvangasana variations are great to tone and strengthen the muscles of the legs and are a boon for the kidneys.

Contraindications

The contraindications that apply for Sarvangasana apply to the variations as well.

Busting the Myths

When students first start practicing these variations there is a rush to touch the toes to the floor.  This compromises the alignment of the raised leg. Read on for some practice pointers.

Practice Pointers

  • The variations can be performed after staying in the Sarvangasana for 5-10 minutes.
  • Do them for 30 seconds on each side.
  • If your leg doesn’t reach the floor use a stool or chair under it (see video).

 

Stay tuned for more from our Yoga to Boost Immunity Sequence.

Download the Daily Yoga Practice Checklist.

Follow Amrutha Bindu Yoga here.

Follow Medha Bhaskar here.

Follow me (Pragya Bhatt) here.

Lifestyle Yoga

Halasana – The Plough Posture

March 20, 2020

Hala means a plough, the shape of which this posture resembles, hence the name. (Light on Yoga, p 216)

 

There are asanas we encounter so many times that we don’t realize there is a lot more to them than meets  the eye.  The halasana is one such posture…

It helps to:

  • Relieve backache.
  • Bring flexibility in the shoulders and elbows.
  • Relax the mind and body.
  • Promote better sleep.
  • Improve digestion and appetite.

 

Contraindications

Don’t practice if you have diarrhea, or are menstruating.  If you have a neck or back injury then wait until you are completely healed.

 

Busting the Myths

The final posture is usually depicted with the toes touching the floor.  However, if you don’t have the requisite flexibility, forcing your toes to touch the floor can do more harm than good.  Read on for some practice pointers…

Practice Pointers

  • In an attempt to touch the floor with the toes, many practitioners end up  pushing themselves beyond their capacity and injure themselves.  A simple trick is to rest your feet on a chair or a small table instead of on the floor.
  • There is a strong link between the halasana and the paschimottanasana.  When your back gains mobility in one, then the other improves too.
  • Tighten your thighs and roll them in to activate your legs and engage your core.  You are trying to keep the spine extended.

 

Over the years I’ve studied the nuances of the halasana and that has certainly improved my practice.  I found an older picture of me doing this asana here.

Stay tuned for more from our Yoga to Boost Immunity Sequence.

Download the Daily Yoga Practice Checklist.

Follow Amrutha Bindu Yoga here.

Follow Medha Bhaskar here.

Follow me (Pragya Bhatt) here.

Lifestyle Yoga

Prasarita Padottanasana – Wide Legged Forward Fold

March 12, 2020

Prasarita means expanded, spread, extended.  Pada means a foot.  The pose is one where the expanded legs are stretched intensely.  (Light on Yoga, p 81)

Are you unable to do the Sirsasana?  But still want the benefits?  Well, this pose is for you!

It helps to:

  • Stretch the hamstrings, calves, glutes and lower back.
  • Gently open up tight hips, thereby helping to increase hip mobility.
  • Improve posture.
  • Relieve fatigue.
  • Strengthen the feet, improving flat foot.
  • Speed up healing.

 

Contraindications

Avoid practicing the prasarita padottanasana when you have a headache or migraine.  The rush of blood to the head may exacerbate the condition.

 

Busting the Myths

Widening the distance between your feet will not help you in getting your head closer to the floor.  This just makes your stance unstable.  Read on for some practice pointers…

Practice Pointers

  • The body weight should never rest on the head.
  • Many students compromise on the straightness of the legs in an attempt to bend down more.  Instead of focusing on the head reaching the floor, focus on extending the torso forward.
  • As with Uttanasana, rest your head on a block or a chair to enable further extension.

 

Incidentally, I wrote about the adho mukha svanasana a few weeks ago.  Check out the blog, it may shed more light.

Stay tuned for more from our Yoga to Boost Immunity Sequence.

Download the Daily Yoga Practice Checklist.

Follow Amrutha Bindu Yoga here.

Follow Medha Bhaskar here.

Follow me (Pragya Bhatt) here.

Lifestyle Yoga

Yoga to Boost Immunity

March 8, 2020

When Women’s Day rolls around we talk about women.  Strength, equality, acceptance, rights.  This year I wanted to talk about something more relevant.  Immunity.  Immunity to ‘what will people say/think/do’.  Immunity to unrealistic expectations. Immunity to trying to please everyone.  Immunity to self-doubt, self-sabotage.

The key to fighting any kind of external attack is your immunity.  The higher your immunity levels, the less likely you are to fall prey to pesky germs.

I suggested a collaboration to my friend Medha of Amruta Bindu Yoga a day before Women’s Day.  Within two minutes we were ready.  The deadly Corona virus spreading like wildfire across planet earth, we decided to focus on how yoga can help.  Yoga’s positive impact on boosting your immunity is proven and well documented.  A regular yoga practice helps in lowering your stress hormones and stimulates the lymphatic system (which eliminates toxins from your body).  Inversions (asanas where your head is below the level of your heart) help in increasing blood circulation.  This increased circulation helps in taking oxygenated blood to your organs, which helps in keeping the organs healthy.

A couple of days ago I came across a yoga sequence to strengthen the immune system, designed by BKS Iyengar.  It’s being widely circulated on Instagram and I came across it on the IYNAUS page.  Medha and I decided to share the sequence with our followers.

This sequence was created by BKS Iyengar to boost immunity to fortify the body against the invasion of germs, bacteria and viruses. Fun fact: it’s Medha and I performing the asanas in the images.

 

Daily practice is a challenge, specially when you’re practicing solo.  We decided to help by putting together this checklist for you.  You can print this out and place it where you’re likely to see it, be it your practice space, your dresser, your bathroom mirror, in front of your desk etc.  It’s a reminder to you that all of us need a little help with our yoga practice.  You can also download the Daily Yoga Practice Checklist by clicking on the ‘Download’ button at the end of the blog.

Over the next few days we’re going to be discussing how each of these asanas improve your immunity.  We’ll discuss the asanas at length, giving you new insight into them.  Please reach out to any of us (on Instagram/Facebook) with your queries and we will help you out!  We’re incredibly excited about this challenge and hope it really makes a difference to you.

Download the Daily Yoga Practice Checklist.

Follow Amrutha Bindu Yoga here.

Follow Medha Bhaskar here.

Follow me (Pragya Bhatt) here.

 

You can read about the individual asanas below:

  1. Uttanasana
  2. Adhomukha svanasana
  3. Prasarita Padottanasana
  4. Sirsasana
  5. Dwi pada Viparita Dandasana
  6. Halasana
  7. Sarvangasana
  8. Viparita Karani
  9. Savasana