Yoga is a series of exercises that stem from ancient India. Though the practice is very physical, the ultimate aim of yoga is to transcend the body to attain higher states of consciousness, and ultimately liberation for the soul. When first beginning to practice yoga, it is wise to learn from an experienced teacher.
Ujjayi Breathing Technique
This breathing technique helps you go deeper into the yoga poses and helps remove phlegm from your throat. It also helps rid you of dyspepsia, coughing and dysentery. To do it, close your mouth and inhale through both nostrils smoothly and uniformly. Partially close your epiglottis in the throat to produce a soft sobbing tone that sounds sweet and is uniform. At the end of your inhalation, close both of your nostrils and hold your breath for 30 seconds. Seal your right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through your left nostril. Repeat the exercise five times to begin, gradually working your way up to 20 rounds. Do the exercise at least three times per week.
This yoga position (also called “salamba sarvangasana”) is said to benefit all parts of your body, which is why its Sanskrit (ancient Indian language of yoga) name derives from “sarvanga,” which means “all parts.” To do the shoulderstand position, start by lying flat on your back, bringing your feet together and stretching your arms behind your head to make sure you have enough space (at least a foot). Keeping your head and neck on the ground, inhale as you lift both legs until they make a right angle with your body. Bring your hands onto your buttocks. Gently push your body up. Try walking your hands down your back to do so. Try to hold this position for at least 30 seconds. Come down from the pose slowly, keeping your hands on the floor as brakes to help you as you first lower your back and then bring your legs down to the ground. Practice the shoulderstand at least three times per week.
Called “halasana” in Sanskrit, the plough pose stretches your entire spine, making it more flexible and healthier while stretching your hips and leg muscles as well. To do this pose, start in shoulderstand. From shoulderstand, slowly lower both of your feet down toward the floor behind your head. Keep your knees straight. If your toes are on the floor, bring your hands to the ground behind your back, with your palms flat on the ground and parallel to one another. If you cannot bring your toes to the ground, keep your hands on your back to prevent straining your back muscles. Keep your knees straight, pointing your toes toward your head and stretching your heels toward the ground. Hold the position for 30 seconds when you first begin practicing it. To come out of the position, return to the shoulderstand. Do the plough pose at least three times per week.
About this Author
Ripa Ajmera has been writing for six years. She has written for ABCNews.com, General Nutrition Center (GNC), TCW Finance, Alliance for a New Humanity, Washington Square News and more. She was a Catherine B. Reynolds Scholar from 2006-2008 and graduated from New York University Stern School of Business with an Honors degree in Marketing.