Yoga - A healing tool
by Shameem Akthar
Sustained practice in a phased manner can heal the health issues that come in the way of poses
Shameem Akthar has trained as yoga Acharya with
the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and
is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology.
Reports of yoga injuries due to overzealousness in practitioners or instructors put off newcomers from a challenging practice. This is particularly true of a nation where physical activity is still regarded with lukewarm enthusiasm. However, if you look at yoga as a tool for personal development instead of just a physical fitness regimen, you learn to move deeper into your body. This will open you into that still un-largely uncharted expanse that swims between the body and mind. Here is where healing actually happens, as does personal development.
Interestingly, the physical inability to do a pose or the weaknesses displayed may seem far removed from the actual problem the person is suffering. A few examples: A person with respiratory problems may find the simple dandasana (stick pose) difficult. They will negotiate it with a curved spine or lifted knees that refuse to touch the ground. Similarly, those with attention deficit will have a great issue with the adhomukha svanasana (downward facing dog pose): their knees will remain bent, their heels will not touch the ground, and their upper back will curve. Does this mean they should not attempt these poses at all?
On the contrary, they must learn to do such practices in a phased manner. This is crucial since this sustained practice will gently, over time, iron out the psycho-physical blockages that is causing them distress on the physical front.
When you are able to do a pose, which for long gave you trouble, it means that the problem has finally left your body. Often, it also means the emotional imprint and distress that triggered it has also been exorcised.
You can also break into it by learning the preparatory poses that ease you into it. For instance, to negotiate the cobra or bhujangasana more confidently, you can start with the simpler standing backbends like crescent (ardha chandrasana). For headstand, you can start with the pranamasana (prayer pose), or the dolphin pose.
Adhomukha svanasana (Downward-facing dog):
To do this pose, also referred to as parvatasana or mountain pose, kneel down. Lean forward to place palms flat on the ground in front. Exhale. Hoist hips off the floor, pushing down shoulders as you continue breathing, making following adjustments. Push down heels. Focus attention on the stomach. Apply pressure from the shoulder blades. Move your head as close to the ground as possible. Hold the pose as long as you can. Do this several times initially. Later, build up the stamina to hold pose for a minute or so.
Benefits: Is a powerful stamina-builder. Boosts calmness due to blood flow to the brain. Balances blood pressure, both low and high. Alleviates all spinal problems. Tones arms and legs. Removes wrinkles. A great workout for the entire body.
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