By Shameem Akthar
It is essential to identify a particular school whose tradition works for you, and adhere to it
Shameem Akthar has trained as yoga Acharya with
the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and
is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology.
Suddenly there is an upsurge of interest in yoga in India, creating an ideal ground for yoga shopping. People flit between different schools of yoga, shopping for styles, as they do for clothes. This cacophony of interest is good as none existed earlier. Yet, it is also creating, in its wake, a casual approach to an extremely serious science. All yoga must eventually lead towards meditation. Where that integrity is not maintained, such a practice would not qualify as yoga, despite the label being casually attached today to anything that involves stretches.
Serious yoga schools, which have been true to the traditional style, follow a sequence of asana and pranayama practice for scientific reasons. Once you are educated about these reasons, sustaining a practice that is true to this sequence is important to reach into the healing impact of yoga. Even on a purely physical level, this adherence and loyalty is what will maximise your health, build your stamina, and increase your energy levels. To shift schools because the sequence is repetitive, can create more harm than good, or regress your gains.
It is essential as a student, to identify a particular school, whose tradition works for you, and adhere to it. This will invite growth on your mat, not just in asana practice, but also in other areas of your life. A traditional yoga school has the guru’s energy, his or her reasoning of why a practice may be done only in a particular fashion. It has a system that has a scientific basis, and is a powerful package entirely wrapped in experiential wisdom. To keep unwrapping a gift without looking at it fully, then dropping it to unwrap another packet would simply mean that you are denying yourself the joy meant for you from a particular school.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-facing dog):
Lie on your stomach. Chin on the floor, palms flat on the ground on either side of your waist. The top of your feet should be flat on the floor. Inhale, pushing down your palms and pushing yourself off the floor, so that the torso lifts off as well as your knees, as shown in the photograph. Look ahead or overhead, keeping the torso straight ahead. Continue normal breathing. Hold position as long as is possible. Exhale and release gently back to the starting position.
Avoid: If having wrist problems or headache.
Point to note: This is an advanced variation of the cobra, needs wrist strength and muscular stamina, and may hence be attempted only by those who have done regular exercise.
Benefits: Removes emotional blockages. Is a mood elevator. Aids in respiratory ailments, and strengthening lung power. Heart and immune system are both impacted. Face becomes younger due to the powerful stretch from neck upwards. Spine enjoys a powerful traction. Builds mental and physical stamina.
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