By Sally Janssen
There are some simple practices that will be found common to all yogic teaching of Hatha Yoga.
Preparation before exercising includes having an empty stomach, and suitable clothing before…..
BASIC LIMBERING EXERCISES
All physical practices in Yoga require some preliminary limbering movements to prepare for the Asanas and in order to prevent muscular strain and injury to tendons. There is no specific breath control required with these as total attention is upon awareness of the muscles.
– Preparation for Lotus and x legged positions – involving limbering exercises to ankles, knees and groin
– Lunge exercises to stretch achilles tendons, groin and thighs
– Limbering forward to stretch hamstrings through exercises involving legs and feet
– Gentle limbering of the spine to prepare for further spinal movement
The importance of these basic positions requires constant work until they can be achieved with comfort.
– Good Standing Posture – Tadasana for every-day application
– Seated Posture – upright cross legged Asana or upright in chair for breath control and meditation
– Comfortable Prone Posture – lying in Savasana for Relaxation or Yoga Nidra (“the yogi’s sleep”)
– Inverted Posture – Sarvangasana or modified to increase circulation of blood to the brain
– Beginners are carefully tutored before assuming inverted positions because of possible medical conditions. Children are to hold for short time only. In good physical fitness regular practise of this Asana is encouraged.
These are included in all general practice and classwork exercises to help maintain youth.
– Forward bending -for example, Paschimottanasana
– Side Bending Posture -for example, Nitambasana
– Twisting Posture -for example, Matsyendrasana
– Back bending – for example, Cobra, or Camel – Bhujangasana or Ustrasana
Special attention to respiration used in exercising and in Asanas is designed to replace energy expended and ensure total refreshment of mind and body. Specific exercises in Pranayama are routinely included in preparation for relaxation and meditation to calm the nervous system.
PREPARATION FOR MEDITATION
Initially some simple concentration exercise to assist in focus of the mind is required. A theme may be given as a general class discipline or students encouraged to formulate their own choice of image, prayer or affirmation. e.g focus upon a word ‘peace’ takes a little mental effort – when after a while it is easily held in the mind, we are ready for beginning to recognize the relaxed state of meditation when we no longer try to think of ‘peace’ – we are feeling peaceful.
It is anticipated that each teacher uses knowledge of traditional techniques that have been applied and tested through personal experience. The teacher is responsible for modifying techniques and guiding students appropriately, in relaxation and meditation as well as physical disciplines. It is important that the spiritual aim is seen as integral to all the yogic disciplines.
Sally Janssen is a writer, and Yoga teacher well known both in Australia and abroad for her skill in demonstration of the Hatha Yoga practices and her wisdom in applying the principles of Raja Yoga -the study of the mind and consciousness. More details at http://www.essence-of-yoga.net
Her book “Mental Fitness: A Complete Self-help Guide” explains the principles of mental fitness that can be applied by us all. The book may be found here: http://www.mentalhealthandfitness.com/blog.