By Dr. Rita Khanna
This Yogic homework article is designed to bring you to a level from where you can continue the practice at home. It is suitable for those who are already practicing Yoga at home or who have been trained in Yoga practices to some extent. The beginner is advised to consult and practice under the guidance of a Yoga teacher, or a person competent to teach Yoga, before continuing the practice on one’s own at home.
STRUCTURING YOUR DAILY YOGIC HOME WORK
Sit on a folded blanket – in any of the recommended Yoga sitting positions. Make your body still, and when your breath becomes calm and rhythmical, take a slow and deep breath on an inhalation, and then exhale while chanting OM with a long ‘Ooooooo’ and a shorter ‘Mmmmm’, which ends with the end of the exhalation – about 2/3rds of the exhalation on the ‘Ooooooo’ and 1/3rd on the ‘Mmmmm’. Repeat OM chanting three times.
The following group of Asanas removes stiffness from the joints and helps the muscles to become flexible. Co-ordination between bones, muscles, joints, and ligaments improves so that they work naturally and spontaneously. Problems in the knee joints, hip joints, ankle joints, shoulder joints, and wrist joints can all be remedied by these Asanas. It is excellent for those with rheumatism, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart problems, or other ailments, where vigorous exercise is not advised.
Exercise 1: Toe Bending
Assume the base posture with legs stretched directly in front of the body. Place the hands on the floor by the side of the trunk. Lean backward, taking support on the straight arms. Become aware of the toes.
Move the toes of both feet slowly, backward and forward, keeping the feet rigid. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 2: Ankle Bending
Remain in the base position as in exercise 1. Move both feet backward and forward as much as possible, bending them from the ankle joints. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 3: Ankle Rotation
Remain in the base position as in exercise 1. Separate the legs, keeping them straight. Keep the heels in contact with the floor. Rotate the right foot clockwise about the ankle. Repeat 10 times.
Rotate the right foot in the same way, but anti-clockwise. Repeat 10 times. Repeat the same procedure with the left foot. Then rotate both feet together.
Exercise 4: Ankle Crank
Assume the base position. Place the right ankle on the left thigh. With the assistance of the left hand, rotate the right foot clockwise 10 times. then anti-clockwise 10 times.
Repeat the same procedure with the left foot.
Exercise 5: Knee Bending
Assume the base position. Bend the right leg at the knee and clasp the hands under the right thigh. Straighten the right leg, without allowing the heel or toe to touch the ground. Keep the hands under the right thigh, but allow the arms to straighten. Bend the right leg as much as possible at the knee, bringing the heel near the right buttock. Repeat 10 times.
Now repeat the same procedure with the left leg.
Exercise 6: Dynamic Spinal Twist
Assume the base position. Separate the legs as much as is comfortable. Keeping the arms straight, bring the right hand to the left big toe, and stretch the left arm behind the back. Keep both arms in one straight line. Turn the head and look backward, directing the gaze to the left hand. Turn the trunk in the opposite direction; bring the left hand to the right, big toe and stretch the right arm behind. This is one round. Repeat 10 or 20 times.
At the beginning, do the exercise slowly, then gradually increase the speed.
Exercise 7: Half Butterfly
Assume the base position. Fold the right leg and place the right foot on the left thigh. Place the left hand on the left knee, and the right hand on the top of the bent right knee. Gently move the bent leg up and down with the right hand, allowing the muscles of the leg to relax as much as possible. Continue this exercise until the right knee starts to touch, or nearly touch, the floor.
Repeat the same process with the left knee.
After some days or weeks of practice, the knee should comfortably rest on the floor without effort.
Exercise 8: Full Butterfly – i
In the base position, bring the soles of the feet together. Try to bring the heels as close to the body as possible. Interlock the fingers and place them under the feet. Gently push the knees towards the ground, utilizing the elbows, and bend the body forward. Try to touch the ground with the head; this will be difficult in the beginning.
Exercise 8: Full Butterfly – ii
Keeping the soles of the feet together – place the hands on the knees. Utilizing the arms – push the knees towards the ground, allowing them to bounce upward again. Repeat 20 or more times.
Exercise 8: Full Butterfly-iii
Maintain the same position, but place the hands on the floor behind and to the side of the back, keeping the arms straight. Move the knees up and down 20 times or more.
Exercise 9: Hand Clenching
Hold the arms straight out in front of the body, so that they are on the same horizontal plane as the shoulders. Stretch and tense the fingers of both hands. Close the fingers over the thumbs to make a tight fist. Again, stretch and tense the fingers. Repeat this movement 10 times.
Exercise 10: Wrist Bending
Maintain the same position as in exercise 9. Bend the hands at the wrist, as if you are pressing the palms against a wall. From the upward pointing of the fingers, bend the hands at the wrist and point the fingers downward. Again, point the fingers upward. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 11: Wrist Joint Rotation
Stay in the same position as in exercise 10, but with only the right hand extended. Clench the right fist and rotate it clockwise 10 times about the wrist. Then, rotate the fist anti-clockwise 10 times. Repeat the same movement with the left hand.
Extend both arms in front of the body, with the fists clenched. Rotate the fists together, 10 times clockwise, and then 10 times anti-clockwise.
Exercise 12: Elbow Bending
Maintain the same position as in 11, but hold both arms outstretched with the hands open and the palms uppermost. Bend both arms at the elbows, touch the shoulders with the fingers, and then straighten the arms again. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 12: Variation-i
Perform the same exercise, but with the arms extended sideways- Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 13: Shoulder Socket Rotation
Stay in the same position as in exercise 12 Variation-i. Make a circular movement from the shoulder joints, keeping the fingers in contact with the shoulders. Repeat 10 times clockwise, then 10 times anti-clockwise. Try to make the circular movement of each elbow as large as possible, bringing the two elbows in contact with each other in front of the chest.
Exercise 14: Neck Movement-i
Assume the base position. Slowly move the head backwards and forwards 10 times.
Exercise 14: Neck Movement-ii
Slowly tilt the head to the left and to the right, first while facing directly forward, and then while turning the head to the left and right. Repeat both methods 10 times.
Exercise 14: Neck Movement-iii
Slowly rotate the head in as large a circle as possible, 10 times clockwise and then 10 times anti-clockwise. Do not strain.
PREPARATORY PRACTICES (PART II)
This group of Asanas strengthens the abdominal muscles and organs. They improve the digestive system, which is important for the proper functioning of other systems of the body and beneficial for stamina and endurance.
Exercise 15: Leg Rotation
Lie flat on your back, with the legs straight and the arms beside, and in line with, the body. Keeping the right leg straight – raise it off the floor. Rotate it clockwise 10 times, and then 10 times anti-clockwise. Keep the rest of the body, including the head, flat on the floor during the practice. Do not strain.
Exercise 16: Cycling-i
Stay in the same position as in exercise 15. Raise the right leg and make 10 forward cycling movements, followed by 10 reverse cycling movements. Repeat the same procedure with the left leg.
Exercise 16: Cycling-ii
Using both legs, make alternate cycling movements 10 times forward and then 10 times in reverse.
Exercise 16: Cycling-iii
Now keep the legs locked together and do 10 forward cycling movements, followed by the reverse movements. Keep the rest of the body, including the head, flat on the floor during the practice.
Exercise 17: Leg Lock Posture-i
Lie flat on the back. Bend the right leg and bring the thigh near the chest. Interlock the fingers and place them over the knee. Inhale deeply and exhale, emptying the lungs. While retaining the breath outside, lift the head and upper portion of the chest, and try to touch the knee with the nose. While inhaling, slowly return to the supine position. Relax the whole body. Repeat 10 times with each leg.
Exercise 17: Leg Lock Posture-ii
Fold both legs and wrap the arms around the knees. Repeat the head and upper chest raising movement 10 times, taking great care that the respiration is coordinated with the physical movement.
Exercise 18: Rocking and Rolling-i
Lie flat on the back. Fold both legs up to the chest. Interlock the fingers, and place them around the shin, just below the knees. Roll the body from side-to-side, touching the side of the legs on the floor. Do 5-10 times.
Exercise 18: Rocking and Rolling-ii
Remain in the sa