International Yoga Day: A complete guide to get the lazy person started


My yoga journey, like that of many, has had different phases– starting off in a place where I thought yoga was boring, to rediscovering yoga, partially propelled by my favourite Hollywood stars, understanding that yoga went beyond a physical practice and so on.Somewhere on this journey were also a few “advanced asana” phases where I was determined to accomplish the most difficult of asanas– Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrkshasana) Scorpion (Vrikschasana) and others– usually followed by injury of some kind. Part of the motivation for doing these asanas was the social media posts that would follow (not a good reason).It was only a decade into my yoga journey that I realised that yoga asanas were neither meant for fitness, nor toning, nor achieving shapes with the body. A daily yoga asana practice was fundamentally about aligning the body, the breath and the “prana,” “chi” or “life-force.” This neither took hours nor did it need to be complicated. After twenty years of practice, I know that the most effective asanas are the most basic, the most fundamental ones; the asanas that can be accomplished by nearly everybody, especially with the use of simple props like cushions, a strap or a block.A complete yoga practice does not have to take more than 30 minutes of your time and is best practiced in the morning so that you can face the day and the inevitable challenges that come with it, with a balanced body and mind. Yoga in the evening is fine too– but you can’t reap the benefits of a morning practice that gives you an entire day to work with the benefits achieved in a short practice.What does a complete and safe yoga practice consist of?Here are a few suggestions from what I like to include in my daily morning practice.Simple Warms UpsWe have to warm up our bodies and gain some strength and stamina to prepare ourselves to do asanas.- Stretching the arms over and above the head- Rolling on the spine after making a small ball with the body- Twists to the right and left along with the breath.Find what feels good to you, and make accommodations based on your body and its requirements.PranayamaMake sure to do these in a clean environment, ideally with fresh air available. Two are enough.Kapalabhati (stomach pumping exercise) This is technically a kriya. It is a great way to improve blood circulation and strengthen the lungs.Anulom Vilom (alternate nostril breathing) helps in clearing the nasal passages and increases oxygenation.Surya NamaskarsThis is a complete warm-up. It really wakes up the body. The twelve different postures help increase flexibility and strength.InversionIdeally, this should include a headstand or shoulder stand (followed by Hal asana and Matsya asana) but even something as simple as placing the legs against the wall would work. 83705329Forward BendAny sort of forward bend works, my favourite is the classical Paschimotanasana or sitting forward bend. Padhastasana (standing forward bend) is a good choice too.These would help soothe the endocrine glands and give a good stretch to the intervertebral joints.TwistMy favourite is the Bharadvaj asana and the Ardha Matsendrya asana. These asanas would be a great addition to relieve any spinal, hip and groin problems.BackbendsChoose what feels right for your body. Bhujang asana, chakra asana, Shalabh asana are are options. They help in circulating blood deep into the vertebrae and keep the lungs healthy.If your daily practice includes these movements, then you are all set to go.Remember that ultimately disease is energy trapped in the body and yoga prevents disease by allowing the energy to flow freely in our nadis or astral bodies.A few more points to keep in mind:The longer you hold the asana the better it is. It is through long holds that the asanas start to work on various levels of the body– the physical, the emotional and the mental.Each asana needs to be combined with the breath, else it is not yoga, merely gymnastics or stretching. The breaths need to be long and slow.Asanas are defined in the Yoga Sutras as steady and comfortable, so you should not be overwhelmed with discomfort in any of the asanas.Lastly, there is no better time to start yoga than now. This practice has transformed my life in so many ways, and this magic is open to everybody. With yoga going online, there is no excuse anymore so find your favourite online yoga class and get started, even if it’s for 30 minutes a day.I hope you find your yoga bliss as I did.- The author is an author, columnist and a Yoga Acharya. She is the founder of Yog Love – a yoga studios, and also Master at, a meditation and mindfulness app. 83690452


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