6 meditations that actually work

We live in tense, turbulent and for many people, unrelaxing times – of that reality there is really no doubt. What we need today is more of us who have no intention to further add to the turbulence, who can stay calm in a crisis, cool in the midst of chaos and focused on positive when all around are inclined to reinforce the negative. I have put together these five tried and tested meditations that can be tried by anyone, even the newbies and non-meditative people amongst us. First things first – develop your meditation posture. In order to relax during meditation, it is important to sit comfortably. Lotus pose is the traditional posture for practicing meditation. Half-lotus or simply sitting upright on the floor or a cushion is an easier option. IMG_1068

  1. Be inspired by clouds. There’s a zen saying that goes “the sky does not impede the clouds in their flight”. Meditate on this principle. Allow your thoughts to be like clouds – let them drift across your mind’s surface without attempting to push them away or hold on to them.
  2. Meditate on a candle. Place a lit candle in front of you and focus your gaze on the flame until you can see nothing but light bordered by shadows. Lower your eyes slowly until your eyes are almost closed. You will see shafts of golden light shooting out from the flame.
  3. Meditate on the face of your watch. As you gaze at your watch, fill your consciousness with nothing but the circle of the face. As you do so, you will notice that the second hand seems to come to a stop. It is as if you have entered a realm that is free from the constraints of time and space – the ultimate relaxation.
  4. Use a Mantra in your meditation. A mantra is a word or sound which is repeated over and over again to provide a focus for the mind during meditation. “OM” is a widely used mantra – believed to be the primordial sound from which the entire universe was created. When chanting OM, sound the final consonant for about four seconds, so it becomes a hum.
  5. Dissolve your body in a visualization. Lie comfortably on your back. Starting at the toes and working towards your head, imagine your body turning to warm liquid as you tense and relax each part. Finish by relaxing the mind, concentrating deeply, then letting your thoughts dissolve and float away.
  6. Visualize little balls of light in a box. In your mind, open the box and take out the balls, placing each in turn on an area of your body that is tight or tense. Imagine the light dissolving into your body, relaxing and healing as it does so.
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5 guidelines to practice Yoga safely

Any type of fitness activity, aiming at improving your physical fitness carries a certain level of risk with it. Any physical exercise challenges the body in order to improve its health. It triggers changes that make the body stronger – increased muscle mass, stronger bones, more flexibility and range of motion – depending on the specific fitness goal.

That being said, can yoga wreck your body? Can yoga cause injuries the same way that weight training or competitive sports can? I would say no, not to that degree, but as is the case with any physical activity – one needs to exercise certain caution and maintain awareness to stay safe during the practice. Yoga has numerous documented and well-established health-benefits but these days you hear more and more people complaining about injuries attained during yoga. Is it really Yoga? Or is it the state of their mind while practicing Yoga? I prefer to think it’s the latter.

Let me list 5 simple changes that you can make to your practice to keep yourself safe.

  1. Listen to your body. I repeat this in my every class – your body knows it’s limit, the teacher doesn’t. So don’t shy away from moving back in a pose. Feel free to say no to a teacher if he/she asks you to move deeper and your body isn’t willing to. Rest in child’s if you have to. You are not in this class to compete, so if something doesn’t feel right, ease out of it.
  2. Don’t look at your neighbour. You are here to honour and work on your own body, not your neighbour’s. If 5 people in the front row can bring their foreheads all the way down to their shins in a forward fold, you don’t have to too. You hear your hamstrings howl in pain and you still keep going; you can’t breathe but you still keep pushing. Well, STOP right there. You are not doing anyone a favour by pushing that hard. Be patient with yourself – it will come to you in good time.
  3. Pick the right teacher and style. When it comes to yoga – it’s not one size fits all. You might find a teacher brilliant when your friends find their classes a tad too slow. If you are young and fit, you can try out a variety of yoga styles. However if you are in late 40’s and just starting out your Yoga journey, it’s prudent to go for a slow paced class. Same holds if you are trying to recover from a chronic illness or injury. Never be ashamed to ask if a particular class is suitable for your fitness level or health condition. Your teacher would be happy to guide you. If the teacher cannot offer any help or insight, maybe it’s time that you changed them.
  4. Breathe! I can never say it enough during my classes. If you are all red in the face and not breathing – you are pushing it too far. Breathe, breathe, breathe. The calmer your breathing is, the easier the pose becomes for you. As the breath relaxes, the body gets more comfortable in a pose – thereby minimizing the risk of injuries.
  5. Look for a sweet spot in every pose. That is where you challenge your body and mind but still stay comfortable. So your sweet spot is the place where your muscles feel a delicious soothing, sometimes deep, stretch without any pain or fatigue.

And in the end, always remember – Yoga is not an extreme sport. Do not strive to turn it into one.

Plank Pose all you need to know – Plus a 5-minute plank challenge

Plank pose is a very basic pose used as a core and upper body strength builder in Yoga as well as other fitness regimes. Plank is truly a foundational pose – not only does it bestow you with the power and strength to hold your body together when staying in a pose, it also helps you to achieve grace when making transitions during your practice.

Performed correctly & consistently it has many benefits:

  1. Strong wrists, arms and shoulders.
  2. Strong and toned abdominals.
  3. Quads strength builder.
  4. Great for spinal support and strengthening and a better posture.
  5. Builds up wrist integrity.
  6. Improves nervous balance and develops a sense of inner equilibrium and harmony.

Which muscles it works on:

As you must have figured out by now that holding the plank pose stretches and strengthens many muscle groups at the same time. If you spend the bigger part of your day sitting in a chair, planks can be a wonderful way to achieve a full body strengthening. Starting from the top, it lengthens the neck, builds up the strength in your shoulders and your biceps. Moving along, it also works on the chest although this is a secondary muscle group that is worked. One of the major muscle groups that we work in planking are the abdominals. And obviously we work the muscle groups directly on the opposite side of the abs – the lower back muscles. Moving along, we are also working on our buttocks, thighs and calf muscles. So there, you have it. An end-to-end work out and you do not need an equipment other than your body to reap the benefits.

But in order to achieve these benefits, it’s important that the pose is executed correctly. I once heard a teacher saying – “hold your plank stiff as a board but light as a feather”. And this is what I practice and teach now. When you find the correct alignment in plank, there’s a clear line of energy running from the crown of your head through your hips and your heels.

How to Plank:

  1. Begin on hands and knees with wrists below the shoulders and knees below the hips.
  2. Grasping the mat with your toes stretch the feet back until the body is straight. Scoop your tailbone slightly in.
  3. Engage your abdominals, press down flat into the palms and lengthen the neck.
  4. Focus your gaze at a fixed point to the front so that you lengthen your neck in line with the spine.

Contraindications:

Do not practice if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or hernia or if you have a history of degenerative lower back problems.

The 5-minute Plank Challenge:

I have put together a five minute plank workout plan that you can try out. It uses relative inactivity to challenge the abdominal muscles and strengthen them. To get the maximum benefits, tense your abdominal muscle group in each pose. So just five minutes a day and you get strong abs, strong core, more power, better coordination, stronger arms and shoulders plus you look more toned. Here’s how to execute:

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  1. High Plank – hold for 30 seconds
  2. Elbow Plank – hold for 30 seconds
  3. Wide Legged Plank – hold for 30 seconds
  4. Superman Plank – hold for 30 seconds
  5. 3-Legged Plank – 30 seconds on each side
  6. Knee To Elbow Plank – 30 seconds on each side
  7. Side Plank – 30 seconds on each side

In your practice, try to consciously find pockets of tension and relax them. As always, listen to your body and approach each pose carefully and respectfully. Good luck planking!

Looking through the Ayurveda Lens – Imbalances

Ayurveda loosely translated means “knowledge of life”. It is a 5000 year old practice and has it’s origin in the Vedic culture. This traditional Indian medicine practice includes the uses of herbal medicines, mineral or metal supplementation, surgical techniques, opium and oil massages to cure ailments. Ayurveda, is much too wide a subject to be constrained within a concise article. But I’ll strive to get the basic points across to help you identify your ayurvedic constitution and develop practices that can be beneficial for your body and mind to stay in a balance. In a nutshell, Ayurveda emphasizes balance, suppressing natural urges is considered unhealthy as it causes imbalances and imbalances lead to disease.

There are three elemental substances (Doshas) in Ayurveda –

  • Vata – Refers to Movement, space and air within the body
  • Pitta – Refers to Transformation, moisture and fire within the body and
  • Kapha – Refers to Strength and structure, earth and water within the body.

These are the primary forces responsible for sculpting the character of our mind and body. Each individual has a unique combination of these forces that shapes their nature. These are dynamic energies that constantly change in response to our actions, thoughts, emotions, foods we eat, seasons and other sensory inputs that feed our mind and body.

The table that follows gives a succinct portrayal of the three Ayurvedic Doshas. You can read through to figure out what is your constitution and what dietary, exercise and lifestyle changes can you make to get yourself back in balance.

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Please note that the information in this article is meant solely for educational purposes. It is in no way a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment or advice.

 

5 Secret Tips for Yoga Newbies

When someone asks me IF they can practice yoga, I say YES without even looking at them. The best thing about Yoga is that it is accessible. Anyone, at any fitness level, with any ailment and at any stage of life can practice Yoga.

Yoga need not be a mystical and intimidating experience for a Yoga newbie. Just take a look at these 5 tips that simplify Yoga for newbies and novices.

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  1. Yoga is not a “push until you drop” work out. Shavasana and Child’s pose are important Yoga postures for a reason. Use them! You need not prove anything to anyone. You are the master of your body and you do not owe any one an explanation if suddenly in the middle of the class you feel the need to get into child’s pose. Do it – unapologetically!
  2. “I’ve been practicing for months but I’m hardly losing any weight” Even if for the first one month, or two, you do not lose weight; don’t give up. You still are building strength and muscle and improving your stamina. Muscle weighs more than fat and when you are building muscle, you are still losing fat. Do not stop yet, get rid of the scale for first few months. Hang in there and the results will show soon enough.
  3. If you wake up too sore to go to yoga, go anyway! Stretching the sore muscles out is one of the best things that you can do for them. The more you stretch, the faster the soreness disappears. No matter what your mind tells you, the Yoga class you signed up for today is important. Show up. You will feel much better afterwards. I can guarantee that for you.
  4. Always practice on an empty stomach. While a light and healthy snack can be good before cardio, not so much for yoga. You are bending forward and backwards, stretching sideways, twisting and lying on your stomach. You wouldn’t want your breakfast to end up on the mat. Bring water, that’s enough. There’d be enough time for a post workout meal later.
  5. Stretching can be painful. You might want to give up and get out of that pose but take a deep breath in and relax into it. It is a mind over matter game. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t but if you can push past your initial panic and use your breath to calm yourself down then pat yourself on the back. This pain that you feel is just you fighting. Stop. Surrender. Once you let go, the pain stops.
  6. Enjoy your journey. Have fun on the mat. Do not be obsessed with the way you look, no one is watching you. Close your eyes and dive into your practice. Treasure your time on the mat. Make it your “happy place”.

Welcome to the Yoga addiction. Good luck on your journey and feel free to share your first few yoga experiences in the comments section below. If you have any more tips to add on to this please do so as well.

Namaste!

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) – All you need to know

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Ancient Yogic traditions consider the spinal column to be the root to our tree of life. Dhanurasana or the bow pose is one such pose which nourishes the spine in addition to providing several other benefits. Dhanurasana is derived from the Sanskrit word – Dhanush which means bow. In the final pose, the body mimics the shape of a bow with its string stretched back.

I’ve tried to break down and simplify this pose for the readers. Dhanurasana falls in the category of backward bending poses and hence is a stimulating and extroverting pose. Complete beginners should seek guidance from a trained Yoga teacher to execute the pose. As with any backbend, Dhanurasana has beneficial repercussions throughout the body as it tones and strengthens the muscles controlling the spine and decompresses the spinal nerves which give energy to all the other nerves, organs and muscles in the body.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritties now.

How to get into the pose:

  1. Lie on your belly with the head turned to one side.
  2. Bend your knees bringing the heels close to your buttocks and reach back with your hands to grasp the ankles from the outside.
  3. As you breathe in tense your leg muscles and push the feet away from the body. Arch your back and lift the chest, head and thighs off the ground. The arms are straight.
  4. Breathe and relax in the posture. In the final pose, the head is tilted back and the abdomen supports the whole body on the floor. Back and arms are relaxed.
  5. Know your flexibility and do not push beyond it. Try to keep your mind focussed on the physical sensations. Stay in the posture for 10 breaths and then release. Practice 3 rounds.
  6. Follow up with a forward bending posture.

What it does for you:

  1. Helps get rid of menstrual discomfort and chronic constipation.
  2. Treats gastrointestinal disorders, dyspepsia and sluggishness of liver.
  3. Corrects the posture by removing the hunching of upper back.
  4. Strengthens the legs and improves the flexibility of spine.
  5. Improves blood circulation.
  6. Massages the liver, abdominal organs and abdominal muscles. Leads to improved function of digestive, respiratory, excretory and reproductive organs.
  7. Tones the kidneys, pancreas and adrenal glands.

When not to practice the bow pose:

  1. If you have a high blood pressure, weak heart, hernia or peptic or duodenal ulcers.
  2. If you are pregnant.
  3. If you have an excessive lower back curve (lumbar lordosis).
  4. Just after your meals.
  5. Just before bedtime, as it stimulates the adrenal gland and sympathetic nervous system.
  6. If your body is not warmed up enough.

As always, please remember to work within the range of your own abilities and limitations; Approach the posture cautiously and respectfully; And seek guidance of an experienced and trained Yoga teacher to begin your practice.

Brighter morning? 10 steps? Where’s my coffee?

Whether you are a morning person or not, leaving the comfort of your bed could seem like a daunting task on most days. A few established morning rituals might just be what your body needs.

In this article I include ten easy-to-do morning rituals that can be incorporated in your routine with very little effort but they leave you with bright mornings and much brighter days. All of these rituals have been tried and practiced by me for an extended length of time and I vouch for them. Your morning schedule could be a combination of 3-4 activities listed below, some daily while others maybe twice or thrice-weekly activities. My suggestion is to start out by picking 1-2 activities for each morning and expanding from there.

  1. Wake up early, don’t hit the snooze button. After you hit the snooze and go back to sleep, the brain starts the sleep cycle all over again. Now when the alarm goes off a second time, it is likely that you are in an even deeper sleep so you then wake up feeling even worse than you did the first time. So to avoid that grogginess in the mornings, get up and leave the bed the first time your alarm goes off.
  2. Stretch. An early morning stretch is the best way to get rid of achy and tight muscles and to give your body that instant boost of energy to keep sluggishness at bay for the entire day. Here’s a simple early morning stretch routine. But as always, seek help from an experienced trainer before you start and respect the limits of your body to safeguard yourself from injuries. morning stretch (2)
  3. Listen to the sounds of nature or your favourite music. I find that going for an early morning walk is the best way to wake up my senses. Try to do this before the early morning rush of traffic and the chaos takes over the birdsongs. Another way to brighten the morning is listening to your favourite tunes. The simple act of listening to music while you drink your morning cup of coffee or take a shower can do wonders to your mood. If you think you do not have time for this, cut down on the screen time. You can catch up on the news later.
  4. Drink a glass of warm lemon water. Before your coffee, reach out for a lukewarm glass of water with a slice of lemon in it. According to Ayurveda, the lukewarm water stimulates the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis while lemon aids in loosening AMA or toxins from the digestive tract.
  5. Scrape your tongue. Scraping the tongue is another Ayurvedic ritual. According to Ayurveda, the morning tongue fuzz is a sign of undigested AMA or toxins in the digestive tract. Use a metal or plastic tongue scraper gently scraping your tongue from back to front 7-14 times to cover the entire area. Not only does this gets rid of the undigested toxins, it also awakens the taste buds.
  6. Green smoothie. We do not recommend replacing your breakfast with a green smoothie, although some of us are guilty of that. The leafy greens in your smoothie, which can be spinach, kale or anything else provide phytonutrients, fibre and minerals. To get maximum benefits, blend together some seasonal diced fruits, the leafy greens, chia or flax seeds, and some yogurt, water or juice.
  7. Jump on the spot or on a trampoline. Just lightly bouncing on the spot or jumping on the trampoline helps in lymph movement and drainage. Target to do around 100 bounces and when you finish, you will feel happier, firmer and lighter. This works every muscle in your body – legs, core and upper body.
  8. Dry brush your body. Choose a good exfoliating brush made from natural fibres and before you shower, dry brush your body with strokes towards your heart. This is a wonderful way to improve your circulation and slough off dead skin cells.
  9. Meditate or just “be still”. You do not need to sit in lotus pose and chant away for an hour. Just try to spend a few minutes sitting comfortably in silence without any distractions. Controlled thoughts and a positive attitude in the morning leads to lesser amounts of stress during the day. Discard the negative thoughts, discard the worries when you meditate. Work on keeping your mind on the bigger picture rather than nit-picking and getting caught up in small issues. If you want more positives in your life, focus on the positives that you already have. You will be amazed at the number of new positives that magically appear in your life by doing so. The same works for negativities, make your choice wisely.meditation edit
  10. Make a to-do list. After you meditate, take a pen and a paper and make a to-do list of 5 most important goals that you need to achieve for the day. On the onset, writing down 5 goals everyday might seem a bit difficult, achieving them more so. But try to be persistent. If you forget to write a goal which you remember later, it’s because it wasn’t all that important and something else with bigger importance has taken its place. Do not edit and re-edit your list during the day.

The way you start your morning can affect your whole day. Begin with a sense of calmness, coolness of emotions and a smile.

Yoga Home Practice – What you need to know

I think that the most wonderful and liberating aspect about Yoga is that one doesn’t need any fancy equipment or a designated room to practice. Yoga is accessible. The practice meets you wherever you are, whenever you want. Having a disciplined home practice and committing to it is a profound tool to keep your body and mind healthy, raise your energy vibrations and deepen your relationship with Yoga. You need to develop a home practice because sometimes due to restrictions which can be personal, geographical or financial in nature, you can’t be a regular practitioner at a studio.

 

If you have been working towards achieving a disciplined home practice, there are certain aspects to consider:

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  1. Allot a minimum time for your practice each day. Be consistent and show up to the mat. You might want to start small, say 15 minutes to begin with – so that you can stick with the commitment and feel positive about it rather than guilty.
  2. Prioritize and sanctify yourself and your practice. You are important. Honour your time on your mat and do it no matter what, no matter where you are.
  3. Always include “be still” time in your practice. It could be a gentle Pranayama, silent or mantra meditation or just sitting still.
  4. Go for regular tune-ups to a qualified teacher so that you don’t feel stuck.
  5. Use resources available to you to stay inspired. Learn from Yoga blogs and take free online classes.
  6. Sequencing can make or break your Yoga practice. A few guidelines to follow when you create a sequence:
    • Always begin with some gentle deep breathing.
    • Warm up the body with some gentle movements like cat-cow, ragdoll forward fold, head rotations, shoulder shrugs etc.
    • Sun Salutations are a great way to boost your energy levels and gain a full body workout. A must in your home practice.
    • Standing poses and Balances
    • Seated poses and twists
    • Core work
    • Take your spine in all six directions (forward and back, twists on each sides, side bends)
    • Inversions are a great way to conclude the practice and gain a new perspective.
    • Shavasana or corpse pose
    • Take five minutes in the end to just sit quietly and meditate.

Have no shame about your practice. Own it! Do it unapologetically!

Take care of yourself first and everyone around you will benefit from you being grounded and happy. No matter what technique, what style or what sequence you use, BELIEVE in it. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Stay consistent and make it work. See you on the mat!

5 Reasons You can’t do a Headstand (and 5 reasons why you must start doing it)

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More than half of the time has passed and you are proud of yourself for having lasted this long in the yoga class. And then…the instructor says “time for headstand”. Suddenly you get a mini panic attack. Whether you have tried to do it several times before and can’t stay up there for more than a split second or are too intimidated to even try it – you can read on to understand why headstands aren’t happening for you.

  1. Fear of falling. This is a very reasonable reason for not even attempting a headstand but how will you know if you can balance upside down or not if you don’t give it a chance? Give it a go against the wall, seek help from a seasoned practitioner or an experienced teacher to help you lift your legs off slowly or just be in the bound headstand prep where your feet never leave the ground. It still is a headstand if you are balancing on the head.
  2. Your upper body is weak. Although it’s more about focus, balance and core strength but if your upper body is weak, you won’t be able to create a strong base. So work on the biceps, triceps and shoulders. Two words – push ups!
  3. Your core is weak. Story of my life! When the core is weak, you tend to kick up into headstand and the momentum makes you lose your balance. With a strong core you can slowly lift the legs off the ground making for a more stable pose. Practice boat pose and push ups.
  4. Your base is unstable. If this is the case it becomes extremely difficult to manage the weight of the rest of the body in the inversion. If it’s the bound headstand, make sure that the heels of your hands are touching the sides of your head and your elbows are a few inches away from your ears. If it’s the tripod headstand your elbows need to be bent at a 90 degree angle.
  5. You are not aligned. The alignment needs to be perfect with your hips stacked over your shoulders and feet stacked over the hips with your abdomen engaged and torso in one straight line. Ask your Yoga teacher to watch you get into the headstand and teach you proper alignment.

Now that you are aware of the hurdles on the path you should be able to work your way past them.

Headstand or Shirshasana has been referred to as the “king” of all yoga poses and rightly so. If you practice headstand daily for 10 breaths, you can reap several benefits. Here’s a list of five to get you inspired.

  1. It gives you a face lift by reversing the effects of gravity – giving you that beautiful glowing yoga skin.
  2. It increases the nutrient and blood flow to the scalp delaying the onset of grey hair.
  3. It flushes out and detoxifies the pituitary, hypothalamus and adrenal glands regulating the hormonal imbalances in the body and uplifting your mood in the process.
  4. It results in an improved blood circulation and reduction of undue strain from the heart. When you are hanging upside – down, the de-oxygenated blood is able to flow more easily from extremities to the heart. Also, it almost eliminates the risk of ischemic stroke in the practitioner.
  5. Any fluid retained in the feet (oedema) is able to drain, reducing the onset of varicose veins.

I recommend learning headstand from a qualified teacher.

Please note that headstands are contraindicative if you have very high blood pressure, neck injuries, eye or ear problems, acid reflux or are menstruating.

10 Yoga Poses to Strip the Stress Away

Been feeling fatigued, exhausted and stressed lately? Now is the perfect time to hit the mat. Your practice can not only relieve stress, it can ease the symptoms of anxiety and release physical tension.

The following 10 yoga poses have been organized into a sequence that can be practiced together in this order or individually on an as-needed basis to help relieve stress and anxiety. Few things to keep in mind before we start:

  • Focus on deep calming breaths as you move through the poses.
  • Closing your eyes may help you relax and achieve a more meditative calm state.
  • Although the sequence can be done by beginners, please seek assistance of a trained yoga teacher if you are just beginning your practice.
  • Proceed with caution. To avoid injuries, listen to your body and do not push too hard.
  • Hold each pose for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on what feels comfortable.
  1. Sukhasana / Easy pose

Sukhasana

Promotes inner calm, opens hips, lengthens the spine, and amplifies serenity and tranquillity. Focus on the breath and stay in the pose for atleast one minute.

  1. Tadasana / Mountain Pose

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Stand with your big toes touching and feet rooting down into the mat. Lift your knee caps up and engage your quadriceps. Tone the belly by slightly pulling the navel inwards. Open your chest and roll your shoulders back. Maintain the natural curve of your spine and gaze directly forward. Hold the pose for a minute focusing on breathing calmly and evenly through the nose.

  1. Tiryaka Tadasana / Swaying Palm Tree Pose

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Stand with feet more than shoulder width apart and raise your arms up interlacing the fingers and turn the palms upwards. Exhale and bend to the right side from waist, inhale and come back up. Repeat on left side. This completes one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

  1. Ustrasana / Camel Pose

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Stand on knees with arms at sides, keep the knees and feet hip distance apart. Lean backwards, slowly reaching for right heel with right hand and then left heel with left hand. Do not strain if you can’t get there, just support the lower back and bend backwards as far as is comfortable. In either variation, push your hips forward, keep the thighs vertical and relax the whole body, especially the back muscles into the stretch. Focus on breathing normally. Avoid completely if you have severe back ailments.

  1. Balasana / Child’s Pose

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Begin by kneeling on a yoga mat or the floor. Bring your knees together and your buttocks to your feet. Exhale and slowly rest your torso over your thighs so that your forehead touches the mat.

  1. Paschimottanasana / Seated Forward Fold

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Sit on floor with legs outstretched, feet together and hands on your knees. Relax the whole body and slowly bend forward from the hips sliding your hands down on the legs. Try to grasp the big toes with fingers and thumbs or else just hold any part of the legs that can be reached easily. Move slowly without forcing or jerking. Hold the position for 30 seconds at least, breathing deeply. Relax the back and leg muscles allowing them to stretch gently. Keeping the legs straight, slowly bring the trunk downwards towards the legs maintaining a firm grip on the toes or legs. Try to touch the forehead to the knees. Hold for as long as it’s comfortable.

  1. Bhujangasana / Cobra Pose

Bhujangasana

Lie down on the mat in a prone position with your hands next to your ribcage and elbows bent. Begin to raise your head first, then shoulders, then straightening your elbows arch the back. Bend the head back and gaze upwards to eyebrow centre. The thighs and hips remain on floor and the arms support the trunk. Unless the spine is very flexible, the arms will remain slightly bent. Hold for 30 seconds and relax in Child’s pose.

  1. Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Facing Dog Pose

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From the child’s pose, stretch your arms forward, pushing into your palms lift your knees off the floor. Raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms so that back and legs form two sides of a triangle. The legs and arms straighten in the final position and the heels come down towards the floor. Bring the head and shoulders towards the knees but do not strain. Remain here for 30-60 seconds.

  1. Viparita Karani / Legs up the wall or inverted pose

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Lie flat on the back with legs and feet together in a straight line. Place the arms close to the body with palms facing down. Raise both the legs up perpendicular to the floor keeping them straight and together. Hold this pose for a minute. You can also take support of the wall if you are just beginning the practice. Refer to https://mysliceofzen.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/yoga-sequence-for-a-better-sleep/

  1. Shavasana / Corpse Pose

Shavasana

Lie flat on the back with arms about 15 cm away from the body, palms facing upwards. Let the fingers curl up slightly. Move the feet apart to a comfortable position and close the eyes. Head and spine in one straight line, relax the whole body and cease all voluntary physical movements. Become aware of the natural breath and allow it to become rhythmic and relaxed. Stay in the final resting pose for 3-5 minutes, then become aware of the body and surroundings and gently and smoothly release the posture.

Remember

Always work within the range of your own abilities and limitations. Approach each posture cautiously and respectfully. Seek guidance of an experienced and trained yoga instructor to begin your practice.