Yoga means the experience of oneness or unity with your inner being. This unity comes from dissolving the duality of mind and matter into the supreme reality. Asana means a state of being in which you can remain steady, calm, quiet and comfortable- physically and mentally.
Yogasanas have a deeper significance and value in the development of the physical, mental and spiritual personality. Physical exercises have effect only on the muscles and bones- the physical aspect of body only.
Asanas have a physical and psychosomatic affect which is helpful in curing infirmities. Exercise may not be possible for the sick while asanas can be performed by anyone- young and old. They are useful for both concentration and meditation and help in reducing the toxin levels in the body.
GENERAL BENEFITS OF ASANAS
Yogasanas have major positive effect on the body. Some of the benefits are listed here while specific advantages of each Asana are reproduced alongside the technique of performing the same.
The important endocrinal system is controlled and regulated so that the correct quantities of the different hormones are secreted from al the glands in the body. this has a positive impact on our physical health and mental attitude towards life in general. Even if any one gland is malfunctioning, a noticeable change in health is noticed. It is imperative that all organs perform at their peak, diseased organs repaired, rejuvenated and coaxed to function well. Asanas help in this important aspect of healthy living.
Asanas also help in coordinating the functioning of bones, muscles, nerves, glandular, respiratory, excretory and circulatory system to enable each to support the other. The flexibility acquired by the body helps in adjusting to environmental changes. The digestive systems are stimulated to release the correct amount of digestive juices to aid digestion. The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems state is perennially balanced with asanas to enable all internal organs controlled by them to function to their optimal levels.
Asanas maintain the physical health of the body at peak levels to encourage an unhealthy body to heal itself and become healthy. Specific asanas are recommended as remedy for disease and disorders of various parts of the body.
MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS
Asanas make the mind strong and able to endure pain and unhappiness by developing the power of determination and concentration. Equilibrium and vitality of the mental state helps in facing sorrow, anxiety and stressful situation with total control. The practice of asanas releases the dormant potentialities and instills confidence.
Asanas are the third step in the eightfold path of Raja yoga to make the body steady for the higher techniques of pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharna (concentration, dhyana 9meditation) resulting in smadhi (cosmic realization). Asanas though, in themselves may not give spiritual realization but they are the steps to this path. It is a misconception to presume that asanas are only physical and have no other benefit to attain spirituality.
Asanas are forms of meditation and psychic purification. Asanas have been divided into 3 groups. It is not necessary to practice all asanas nor is it possible to find time for this, in today’s’ busy life schedules.
ADVICE AND PRECAUTIONS FOR PERFORMING YOGASANAS
It is important to study and fully understand the contents of the following paragraphs before attempting the asanas to derive maximum benefits. Any person can perform asanas but proper performance is essential to benefit.
Emptying the bowls
Before starting aanas the bladder and intestines should preferably be empty. If you are suffering from constipation, drink 2-3 glasses of water (with slight amount of salt added) and perform the 4 asanas mentioned in the Shankhaprakshalana (tiryaka tadasana, kati chakrasana, tiryaka bhujangasana & udarakarshan asana.
It will relieve constipation and practice of pawanmuktasana series will also help in this. Going to the toilet at a fixed time daily will also benefit. Straining is not recommended and it is better to relax the whole body. preferably do not use laxatives and your system will adapt automatically in a short span of time.
The stomach should be empty while performing asanas. Allow a time gap of 3-4 hours after food and early morning practice is recommended since stomach is bound to empty at that time.
Do not perform asanas after a long period of sunbathing or stay in the sun.
Always breathe through the nose only, unless specific instructions prohibit this. Adjusting respiration with the asana is important and details are mentioned with each asana technique.
Place to practice asanas
A calm, quiet and well ventilated environment is essential. Fresh air circulation in the room or open space with pleasant surroundings is important. A garden with trees and flowers is a good place. Avoid areas with strong wind currents, polluted air with obnoxious, smoky and foul smells.
Practicing near furniture, fire or anything likely to cause injury should be avoided. Many accidents occur because people fall on some object. Practicing asanas under a fan is also not recommended.
Never exert undue force or strain while performing asanas. Initially the muscles are stiff and it may take sometime to adjust. After a few weeks practice muscles become supple and gain flexibility.
People of all sexes and al age groups can practice yogasanas.
Patients suffering from chronic diseases like tuberculosis, hernia, ulcers etc. should consult a yoga teacher or mail your specific queries for advice to our experts.
Time of practice
Asanas can be performed at any time except immediately after meals. The best time is 04.00 to 06.00 AM- since the atmosphere is calm, quiet and pure and is best suited for asanas. The activities of the intestines and stomach are minimal and even the mind has no deep impressions at the conscious level.
Asanas should be attempted first followed by pranayama and meditation.
Awareness of the body
The body and mind must be aware and fully participate in the performance of asanas. This is possible by slow speed of performing asanas and total concentration. Any pain or pleasure felt during the performance of asanas should be felt only- do not react to it.
Lose, light and comfortable clothing are good for performing asanas. Remove spectacles, wristwatches and any ornaments before performing asanas.
A cold shower before performing asanas is recommended to get the maximum benefit of these.
Yoga does not specify vegetarian or non-vegetarian food to be consumed- it is your personal choice. Taking light and natural food in moderation is recommended. Fill half of your stomach with food, one quarter with water and leave the remining quarter empty. Satisfy your hunger and eat enough only to avoid feeling lazy.
Food likely to gas or acidity is not recommended.
Dietary restrictions for any disease must be followed.
Discomfort during asanas
If excessive pain is felt in any part of the body, stop performing asanas immediately. Seek advice of our expert if necessary. Do not prolong staying in any asana if excessive discomfort is felt.
Inverted asanas should not be attempted if there is gas or fermentation in the body or any other blood disease to avoid ill effects on the brain and the nervous system.
It is important to follow the above in letter and spirit and maximum benefits will accrue.