By Shameem Akhtar
When you can relate to each pose with affection, you can form an enduring bond with it, says Shameem Akhtar
I find that a lot of hassles of learning can be sorted very simply by adopting the relationship of a friend with the pose. A loving relationship which seeks to use the pose to enjoy one’s own mind and body, instead of seeing them as tools (read slaves) to the pose. If this relationship is maintained, then it is very easy to return to the mat without the struggle with discipline that a lot of students confess they have with their practice. Even advanced students find it difficult. How else can it be? If the relationship with your practice is loving, affectionate, involved and engaged, then you do not need an external prod to return to the mat daily. That is why those who use the practice merely as a pill to control some illness, have a negative relationship with the mat: who wants to spend quality or leisure time with one’s doctor?
Similarly, if the same playful, affectionate relationship is established with tough poses, most of them will open themselves up to you. I can offer this suggestion with confidence simply because much of what I have learnt on the mat, including very advanced poses, I learnt in my 40s and continue to learn, now as I enter my 50s. For me, my yoga practice is my friend. Each pose is adored. I listen to them, and what they have to say to me, through my body.
Sit on your heels, as shown. Inhale, raising arms aloft. Exhaling, lower them as shown, beside the hips, palms facing up. Simultaneously, lower the forehead to the ground, as shown. Continue normal breathing throughout. Relax the neck, shoulders and settle the hips firmly on the back of the heels, which should be slightly flared out, as the big toes touch. Hold for a few minutes. To release, lift the arms back to starting position, with an inhalation. And release or stretch out the legs.
Points to note: Though seemingly easy, it can be challenging for those who are stiff. Usually, most people will have difficulty either in reaching the forehead to the ground, or the hips to the heels. Both require dedicated practice. Instead of straining, letting yourself hang loose will reach you faster to the final position in a few weeks.
Benefits: Is deeply relaxing. Sets off the repair mechanism of the body, due to the deep breathing. Is good for the face and skin. Is used to control diabetes, digestive and reproductive system disorders.
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